Networking has changed over the years. It used be that the only way to network your way into a job was to do a lot hands-on networking - as in, pressing the flesh. In other words, you had to go to an event, work the room, and hand out business cards.
Nothing replaces human contact, those networking events still matter, because you get the chance to meet people in person and make a positive impression. Keep in mind, interviews still (usually) happen in person, and most major decisions are made with face-to-face contact.
But LinkedIn is an amazing tool. It's changed the networking game. In many ways, it's democratized networking, making it easy to make meaningful connections. For the job seeker, it's a boon, because it gives visibility into key contacts as potential employers.
Here are 5 great ways you can use LinkedIn to network your way into a job!
- Grow your network, strategically. This is a long-term strategy. Add people with whom you've had contact, whether it be in person, by phone, or by email. The more people your contacts know, the more people you'll be able to access in their network. By the way, LinkedIn is crawling with recruiters - they're good connections to have.
- Build your brand. Your LinkedIn page is your platform, and an opportunity to present yourself in a positive light. Develop a clean, crisp, and professional profile for yourself, and obtain good, solid recommendations from former bosses and coworkers. Write blogs (LinkedIn calls them Posts) that highlight your expertise in your professional area. All recruiters I know use LinkedIn to actively search for talent. Many will check out somebody's LinkedIn profile after receiving a resume to get an idea of the person's presentation. You have full control over your profile and what's published under your name on LinkedIn, take advantage of it!
- Get introductions through LinkedIn. If you see that one of your connections is directly connected with a key contact at a company you'd like to reach, ask your connection for an introduction. Better yet, ask them if they have the person's email so you can reach them directly.
- Apply on the job boards, then reach out to a company contact via LinkedIn. Go to Indeed, Monster, or any job board, and complete the online application for a position. Then, do a search on LinkedIn for a company recruiter, HR person, or appropriate line manager, and send them an InMail letting them know you've applied to the position, you're qualified, and you're interested. Sometimes this can get you moved to the top of the resume pile; recruiters will easily get over 250 applications for an open position online, and they won't have time to review everybody. By taking this approach, you present yourself as a potential solution to their problem.
- Ask for informational interviews. People, by nature, like to help. Find a strategic contact at your target company through LinkedIn, then send them a note requesting an informational interview. Offer to bring your contact a cup of coffee in exchange for their time. Remember, don't ask for a job - your only mission here is to get information. If you present yourself well, you may be considered for open positions, or your contact might refer you to somebody they know for an opportunity at another company. The key here is to come loaded with great questions and a heap of modesty.
Remember, maintain every relationship as if it's critical - because it is. Don't just be a "taker"; make productive introductions on behalf of others, too. Not every connection has an immediate payoff, but you can certainly move the job search in your favor.
Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. He is a Human Resources professional and staffing expert with almost two decades of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience, and is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Professional Career Coach (CPCC).
Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.