Are You Linked In?
Are you getting invitations from strangers or people you barely know, wanting you to join LinkedIn? Maybe you're wondering if LinkedIn can really help you find a new job, or if it's just another Internet scam. Here's the scoop on LinkedIn, and how it can benefit you...
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is the quiet social network. It has over 160 million members, about half them in the United States. But you don't read about LinkedIn members posting embarrassing photos, or bragging about their crimes, or soliciting minors. That's because LinkedIn is all business, all the time.
The most common way that people learn about LinkedIn is through email invitations from existing members who want to connect with them for the purpose of networking or job seeking. But of course, scammers will try to exploit anything online, so you should be aware of the potential for fake LinkedIn invitations that lead to websites designed to infect your computer with malware. Always check email links before clicking, to ensure they're legit. (See Phishing - Are You Protected? for details.)
Founded in 2002, LinkedIn is designed for professional networking. Its profiles are basically resumes. The connections that members form are based primarily upon business and career interests. Through LinkedIn, you can build and work a network of people with whom you once worked, even if you didn't realize you worked for the same company. You can find contacts within potential employers, hiring managers, and people who might recommend you for a job. You can pick up freelance work, too. You can also join groups of people who share your professional interests, asking questions and getting answers.
To get started on LinkedIn, you first create a free account. Then complete your profile, adding every job and educational experience you've ever had. Make sure you don't fudge, though; once a job is added, you can't remove it. A profile can include a photo; make it a tight head shot of you in business attire. To ensure a complete profile, LinkedIn recommends you include the following information:
- Industry and postal code
- A current position with description
- Two more positions
- At least five skills
- Profile photo
- At least 50 connections
- A summary
Where do you get at least 50 connections? You can start by searching for people you know by their names. Also, LinkedIn will try to find connections for you, locating people who match your industry, postal code, employers, schools, etc. You can also upload your contacts to LinkedIn, which will send requests to connect with you to your entire address book.
Note that in order to do this, you'll have to cough up the password to your webmail account. Of course LinkedIn promises they won't poke around while they're in your Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo account, sucking out your contact list, but still it seems a little icky to me. And do you really want to invite ALL of your email contacts to join you on LinkedIn? An alternative that makes me more comfortable is to go through my contacts manually, then paste in a list for LinkedIn to invite. If you're okay with the automatic "invite all my contacts" method, at least change your password afterwards.
Your immediate connections have connections of their own, and you can search those second-level connections for people you would like to know professionally. Be careful about approaching strangers with connection requests, though. If too many members say, "I don't know this person" or "this is spam," you can be banned from LinkedIn.
Companies have profiles on LinkedIn, too. You can connect to a company page to receive press releases, job postings, and other information about the companies.
There are over a million "groups" on LinkedIn where you can find people who share your career and business interests. About one-third of these groups are open to anyone, while the rest require vetting by a moderator before you can be admitted.
Job listings can be searched on LinkedIn, and many employers encourage applicants to apply by clicking a button that submits their LinkedIn profiles. You can search for jobs by location, industry, job title, salary, and other criteria.
Employers pay a fee to list jobs, and recruiters pay in order to search for potential applicants. There are premium accounts for job seekers, starting at $19.95 per month. The key benefits of a paid LinkedIn account include:
- Sending messages to people to whom you are not connected
- Viewing the full profile of people who are not in your network
- Knowing who has viewed your profile
- Research another person's references
A well-developed LinkedIn profile is an important job-hunting and professional networking tool whether you are a seasoned executive or a recent college grad. In order to get the most out of LinkedIn, it's important to stay active in your network. Keep your credentials up to date, occasionally post an interesting link or blog post, or answer another member's question. And check out Inc Magazine's list of 7 Things You're Doing Wrong on LinkedIn to hone your networking skills even further.
Do you have something to say about LinkedIn? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Jun 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Are You Linked In? (Posted: 28 Jun 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved