This answer is provided by our first guest author, Cheryl Kohen.
Q: I’m just starting to use the online social networking site LinkedIn, but I’m unsure how this will help me effectively network. What are some tips when searching this social media site?
CK: Created in 2003, LinkedIn is an online network website listing professionals from all over the globe, with over half of the members from outside of the US. In fact, LinkedIn just reached the over 50 million member mark this year, meaning that there are now more professionals to network with than ever before! Use this professional network to search for other users who directly relate to you career interests, find job opportunities, and research companies.
When creating a profile on LinkedIn, use the most recent and most relevant pieces from your resume. Also, update your status often with professional information, such as a conference you recently attended, or a presentation you recently gave (in-class or at work). Now that you’ve made the choice to create a LinkedIn profile, stay active with it. Keeping your profile accurate and timely will help build your online brand, and be another way that potential employers may find information about you.
There are several ways to use the advance searching features on LinkedIn especially when you are still exploring career paths. For example, find job titles that you aspire to have, and search for them as a job title in the advance search options. By searching these titles, you can view professionals who are connected to you that hold these jobs, and learn more about these positions. Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about alternative careers for librarians and information professionals, but are unsure what these positions are even called, use the job site LibGig and view the many categories that they’ve created for job titles. Again, search these job titles (e.g. Information Architect) as a job title in the LinkedIn advance people searching, and find people in your network who hold these positions.
Once you’ve located a professional that you wish to connect with on LinkedIn, see which contacts you have in common with and request an introduction. These introductions could lead to informational interviews, where you explore more about a career path by interviewing a professional who currently works in a field you are interested in. To learn more about informational interviews, read Quintcareers.com Informational Interviewing Tutorial.
Aside from searching for individuals, users may also search LinkedIn for company information. The company information in LinkedIn, though not as comprehensive as other reference sources, will provide the user with some key statistics of the institution, along with searching for additional professionals to connect with. User information provided in the company profiles include listings of current employees who are using LinkedIn, former employees, new hires, recent promotions and changes, and the most popular LinkedIn profiles from that organization.
Want more LinkedIn tips? See social media expert, Guy Kawasaki’s famous blog entry on the top Ten Ways To Use LinkedIn.