Thursday, April 5, 2012

I’m on LinkedIn – Now what? Part 2

This blog was written by Brittany Moore, CU-Boulder senior pursuing a double-degree in business marketing and broadcast news.

With over 150 million members, LinkedIn is the leading professional social media site on the web.  Resumes are no longer enough, LinkedIn is the best way to network with professionals and search for jobs. With 80% of companies using LinkedIn to recruit it is crucial to have a professional online presence.

Building a Professional Network
Now that your profile is complete the next step is growing your network.  There are several ways you can build a professional network through LinkedIn.  The first and most basic way to do this is by using the contact tab to upload contacts through on your email account.  Additionally, you can search professionals by name using the search bar. Another effective way to network online is by joining groups.  You can do so by using the directory under the groups tab.

You can search groups for alumni, college, high school, fraternity, sorority, clubs, etc.  Some of the best resources for CU student’s are the LinkedIn alumni networks, including CU Herd, Forever Buffs, CU Alums, etc.  As a part of the Association for Women in Communication networking group I have worked a lot with the CU Alumni groups, which gave me a lot of great networking experience.

The group directory on LinkedIn is useful because it also distinguishes members by location, so you can search for professionals in your area. This tool is particularly useful for students looking for jobs away from Boulder. Say you’re going home for the summer, you can plug in your home state and seek out professionals nearby, which will help you build a network at home as well as in Boulder.

When you are asking new connections to be a part of your network it is important to send a personal message with your invitation. This can be as simple as adding on a sentence or two about how and where you met the contact as shown below:

Once you have made connections it is important to build and maintain your network. One way to do this is reaching out to professionals in your network to set up information interviews. You can send a private message that says something like this:

"I am doing career research and interested in learning more about your occupation. Could I talk with you for 20-30 minutes to ask you questions about your background?"

Some questions you could ask during an informational interview or even through a private message on LinkedIn are:
  • How did you get into this field?
  • What do you like best about your job?
  • What recommendations do you have for breaking into the business?
You can also use Twitter and Facebook to search for jobs and network with professionals as explained here.

How to Market Yourself Through Social Networking
In lieu of our ever-changing technological society, Career Services’ Peer Career Advisors (PCAs) facilitate innovative workshops to share resources and opportunities to market yourself through social media. Our “Linkin’ It Up” workshops focus on how to use primary social media sites in a professional way.

The first half of the workshop reviews the best practices for attracting employers on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and personal/professional websites. The second half focuses on LinkedIn with a demonstration and thorough review of the website and its many benefits for students. LinkedIn is extremely useful and easy to use and our Linkin’ It Up workshop is a great way to keep up with new digital media and learn how to adequately market yourself in a professional manner! Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops to follow along for a hands-on learning experience.