When job hunting, savvy seekers know their work isn't over after they've posted their résumé on the Web or submitted an application for employment. If they want to meet their goals, they must continue to manage their job search with consistent, proactive efforts that put them in direct contact with hiring managers, human resources personnel and recruiters.
Your strategy for using LinkedIn, the leading site for professional networking, should mirror this concept. Simply creating a profile isn't enough to help you meet or reconnect with people, find jobs or stand out to potential employers. You have to participate in the community and take steps to market your presence on the site to achieve results.
Diane Crompton and Ellen Sautter, co-authors of "Find a Job Through Social Networking," say it's easier to understand this concept if you liken social networking to advertising.
They explain that "if you know anything about advertising, you know that placing an advertisement once is usually not sufficient. Media campaigns involve repeated placements of ads over time and often in multiple media sources, such as newspapers, magazines, websites and maybe even television or radio. If you are marketing yourself for a job, career advancement or business development, you need to have a multipronged approach to getting out the word about you and what you have to offer."
To help you implement this strategy, Crompton and Sautter offer guidance on how to use LinkedIn more effectively, which will in turn help you do a better job of marketing yourself online. Here are some of their tips:
Infuse keywords relevant to your expertise into your profile
According to Crompton and Sautter, keyword searches are a popular way recruiters and employers uncover potential job candidates on LinkedIn. To ensure your profile turns up in searches related to your expertise, industry or occupation, they suggest that you "enter relevant keywords in your professional headline, in the specialties section and throughout your profile to drive traffic your way. Be sure to use all variations of keywords -- full names, abbreviations, acronyms and alternate words -- to increase the chance that you will be found in searches."
Share your LinkedIn URL with others
"Consider adding your LinkedIn URL to your résumé, e-signature, business cards and other marketing materials," Crompton and Sautter suggest. Not only will this strategy point people to a place where they can quickly learn more about you, it also helps you establish yourself as a professional who is savvy about online networking.
Customize your invitations to connect
When you reach out to potential connections, the default message that accompanies your invitation simply says, "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn."
According to Crompton and Sautter, "Sending this canned note is a sure sign that you didn't take the time or care enough to personalize the invitation to remind the invitees who you are and how they know you. Such a message may even be viewed as spam by some LinkedIn members."
For a more meaningful invitation, Crompton and Sautter say it's best to politely and briefly explain how you know the invitee and why you'd like to connect with him or her.
LinkedIn recommendations are endorsements you can post on the profiles of your colleagues, supervisors, vendors, customers or others you've interacted with in a work environment.
According to Crompton and Sautter, "Writing a recommendation often yields a reciprocal recommendation. In fact, when you write recommendations, the people you recommend are prompted by a message asking if they would like to reciprocate and write a recommendation for you. So if you are timid and reluctant to ask someone for a recommendation, this can be a more subtle approach," they explain.
List your Twitter handle
LinkedIn allows users to connect their Twitter accounts with their LinkedIn profile. This function is ideal if you're hoping to open a dialogue with your LinkedIn connections or if you want connections who are non-Twitter users to be aware of what you're posting beyond LinkedIn.
On the other hand, if you're tweeting off-brand, personal matters, you may not want every one of your tweets to be streamed on LinkedIn. In that case, don't sync your Twitter handle with your profile and consider Crompton and Sautter's following tip:
"On Twitter, you can select specific tweets you'd like to share with LinkedIn connections by manually adding either #in or #li to tag your tweets to 'go live.'"
"Groups are one of the best tools and best-kept secrets on LinkedIn. There are groups for every conceivable shared interest. You'll find alumni associations, professional associations, networking groups and many other special-interest groups," say Crompton and Sautter.
"One of the biggest reasons to join them is to have an easier way to connect with other like-minded LinkedIn members," they explain. "Depending on the protocols of each group, you'll most likely be able to communicate with your fellow group members through direct messages to individual members or the entire group by posting questions or comments for group discussion and response. So it becomes a way not only to expand your network but also to bypass the need to request an introduction or send an InMail to reach others."