Social Media Networking: How to get the most from LinkedIn

 “Think of LinkedIn as the website that does for your career what Facebook did for your social life” – Barry Furby, social media recruitment specialist.

Social media – everyone loves talking about it. With so many platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr to get your head around, why link up on LinkedIn too?

LinkedIn is a global professional social networking site, with over 80 million members and growing. It allows members to network for a variety of business purposes; simply keeping in touch, advertising job opportunities, actively recruiting people, attracting clients to your business or discussing new ventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use it for? How will it work for me?

–       To find people within your network (your network being people you are connected to, and then through them your 2nd and 3rd degree connections)

–       To find people in your network who might be able to support your MBA project

–       To get recommended by other people to advertise your capabilities. This function is hugely useful – these references or ‘recommendations’ can be displayed on your profile, and really sell your skills to potential employers or clients.

–       To join networks. The potential and diversity here is huge; from alumni networks or university related such as the Imperial College Business School LinkedIn Group, to industry-specific groups for legal professionals, for example, or online media professionals, or management personnel… The list is endless, and these are fantastic ways of meeting like-minded people interested in the same areas as yourself.

Do employers really use it?

Yes, they really do. Interestingly, many job-hunting graduates seem to have their doubts about the effectiveness of LinkedIn, but the truth is recruiters actively use it to scope out potential candidates, and four in ten companies admit they check out candidates on social networks, with LinkedIn as their top choice.

How do I make sure my profile is as good as possible?

With recruiters increasingly searching on LinkedIn and also using the site to advertise jobs, it is important that your profile is kept up-to-date and reflects your key skills and personal interests. Consider it a marketing tool to sell yourself to potential employers. It is worth bearing in mind that when an employer searches for a candidate’s name in Google, LinkedIn is likely to be the first listing displayed in the search results.

Social media recruitment specialist Barry Furby recommends, “Photos should be smart and friendly, and language should be articulate and accurate.”

“Ask past colleagues to write recommendations about you,” he says. “Next, start joining groups relevant to your career. Ask and answer questions, find out about events and generally be visible to all the right people in your industry.”

I want to create a LinkedIn account. How do I get started?

Step One: Fill out your profile.

This is as important as a CV, highlighting to anyone browsing your page your key skills and experience. The more complete your profile is, the more likely you are to receive opportunities. LinkedIn estimate that a complete profile is 40 times more likely to receive approaches than an incomplete one.

There are several sections for you to fill out:

–       Experience: companies you have worked for, details of the role, time employed there

–       Skills and expertise: a list of up to 50 skills that can be used as searchable keywords

–       Education: what, when and where you studied

–       Summary: a summary of your experience, interests and key skills and where you would like to go in your career

–       Additional information: this can included links to websites, your blog, information about awards you received…

–       Contact settings: the information you are interested in being contacted about, for example reference requests, new business ventures etc.

TIP: LinkedIn will prompt and advise you on how to improve your profile.

Step Two: Building your network:

Begin by inviting members of the Careers team at your university, if you are still studying. This will give you access to their networks.Then invite people from your programme, colleagues you used to work with and friends and associates. The more people you connect with, the more connections you will have through their contacts.

TIP: keep an eye on which contacts the people you know add – if you know their contacts too then add them.

You can also build connections by using the search box at the top of the page to search for people or companies. It is also worth allowing LinkedIn to search your email address book or Facebook page to find LinkedIn profiles for your existing contacts

Note: you should only connect with people you know or have a connection with!

 Step Three: Networking on LinkedIn – searching for contacts.

Once you have built your connections you can start searching for contacts that might be useful for you.

Think about your area(s) of interest and type this into the search box at the top of the page a list of people with similar interests, job title or industry experience will be displayed. There is also an advanced search option for more detailed searches.

Review the names of the list of people displayed and in particular whether you are already connected to any of them and how. LinkedIn will identify your connections using the following:

– You are directly connected to this person (they are a first contact).

– You are connected to someone who knows this person. If you click on the person’s name you will see how you are connected to them on the right hand side of the page under the heading how you are connected to. You can also have third connections where there is another person in the connection chain.

– You are in the same group (e.g. The Imperial College Business School group) as this person.

If there is no symbol by the person’s name it means you don’t have a current connection to them.

Step Four: Networking on LinkedIn – contacting people

If you are connected through another person, the easiest way is for you to ask that person to put you in touch. To do this you can click on the person’s name and select ‘Get introduced through a connection.’ If you do not have any connections with this person, you can also introduce yourself via InMail but there is a charge for this service. It would be a better option to note the person’s name and organisation, and then make a speculative approach by working out their email address. You can also message people directly through LinkedIn if you are connected to them through membership of a Group. For example you can often contact your university alumni directly through their groups.

TIP: When sending an invitation to connect add a short personal note to the invitation, you are more likely to succeed in connecting with that person than just using the generic invitation wording.

I now have a profile set up; now what?!

 Now you are all set up, you are good to go with making the most of this networking tool! The following are just some things you can begin with:

  1. Researching career paths and companies – even if you don’t want to contact the person you can still learn a lot by reading their profile. You can look at the steps they have taken in their career to get where they are. This might give you an idea of the steps that you need to take.
  2. Company search – click on the companies tab at the top of the page and search by company name. This will give you basic information about the company, a list of anyone who is already connected to who is an employee, used to work there or has just joined. It will also tell you if the company is advertising any opportunities through LinkedIn and also details of any company groups that you may be able to join.
  3. Use Groups – to keep up to date with your industry sector, become involved in discussions and develop your professional network. You can find relevant groups under the groups tab at the top of the page. You will also find jobs boards within groups. Tip if you click on a jobs board within a group and it is empty LinkedIn (based on your profile and the group) will offer a selection of jobs from elsewhere that you may be interested in too. Some groups are open and others are closed, i.e. you will need to send a request to join which has to be approved by the Administrator.
  4. Company groups – You may find that companies you are interested in applying to have their own groups, for example Barclays has an open Global group set up. This is a great way to interact with employees within the organisation and get yourself noticed
  5. Start you own group – You may want to set up your own group. This could be focused around the industry/sector you want to move into, an event you are organising or any other interest/ideas you have that might help you become known as an expert in your field. Look at other groups at how they have been set up, the focus of the group and how they gain followers
  6. Find a job – LinkedIn has a jobs board and there are sometimes roles advertised here that aren’t advertised elsewhere and for which you have to apply through LinkedIn. It also usefully tells you whether you are connected to the person posting the job, or anyone else within that organisation who might be able to refer you or give you further insight into the role or company. Technology, Mobile, Media and Web- Based companies seem to be particularly heavy users of the LinkedIn jobs board (e.g. eBay, Vodafone and Google).
  7. Answer questions – highlight your areas of expertise by answering questions posted on LinkedIn and also participate in discussions on groups. LinkedIn records your activity the more active you are the more likely you are to be noticed!
  8. Other applications – there are other applications on LinkedIn e.g. the Poll function that enables you to gain opinions from your connections, demonstrate your expertise in another way. LinkedIn can also be linked to Facebook and Twitter accounts and tweeting is an increasingly popular way for employers to interact with potential candidates.

Where can I find more information?

Refer to the LinkedIn’s help centre and blog (these can also be accessed from the homepage of their website, scroll to the bottom of the page). LinkedIn also publish helpful careers advice such as how to build professional profiles – check it out by clicking here.

 Good luck linking up!

The Ivy City Team

 

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