How Do I Get Started?
First of all, here's a quick definition of LinkedIn:
"LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals."
Getting signed up with LinkedIn is really easy. Just go to their website (link above) and create a profile. Once you've done that, it's time to make your profile shine!
Creating a Rockin' Profile
There are several components to a LinkedIn profile and as you may notice, a lot of the information you are able to provide may fit in closely with information you already have in your resume. The main categories in your profile will include summary, experience, education, recommendations, contact information, and additional information about yourself. Your best bet is to approach these categories like you would a resume. Avoid spelling and grammar errors; make sure to state your achievements and goals clearly and concisely; and keep everything appropriate. LinkedIn is meant to be a lot more professional than other social media sites like Facebook or MySpace. Try to keep everything on your LinkedIn as professional as possible because there are lots of very important people who may see your profile on LinkedIn and the last thing they need to see if you topless on Spring Break last year.
One great asset you can have with your profile is recommendations. LinkedIn recommends that you have at least 3 recommendations by other professionals because it will help develop your profile and will give you a better chance of getting more hits to your site (visits). These recommendations can come from peers, co-workers, bosses, etc.
Exploring Your Resources
One great thing about LInkedIn is that it doesn't just stop at networking by finding people you already know. LinkedIn is focused on connecting you to people from all over that do all sorts of things with their professional life. You can find other people who similar interests to yourself by getting connected to groups and also by requesting that your connections introduce you to other people.
For example, if I was very interested in working in Company X and my good friend, Joe, was connected to one of the recruiters for Company X, I could request that Joe introduces me to that recruiter. Don't be afraid to use LinkedIn as a networking tool to get your name out to companies you may be interested or people you're very interested in meeting.
Wait, LinkedIn Has Job Postings, Too!?
It's true boys and girls! LinkedIn also has a handy dandy job posting section. With many people out of work due to recent cut back at many companies, this tool can be a HUGE asset for your career search. When apploying for jobs online, make sure that your resume and cover letters are polished, refined, and customized! Sending out mass cover letters and resumes just isn't going to cut it anymore. Make sure to state your qualifications and genuine interest in the company and position.
Since it would take a small novel to list of the great things you can do with LinkedIn, I'm going to leave all of your with some great additional resources to check out if you'd like to do more research on LinkedIn.
Here are some great places to start...
LinkedIn Learning Center:
BNET LinkedIn Crash Course:
"What is Linked In?" Video:
"LinkedIn for Dummies" Video:
Hope this helps!
Good Luck Job Seekers!