How Recent College Grads Should use Linked In

Linked In has become an unbelievable resource for job seekers, corporations looking to fill positions, people who want to network and an online database of millions of people who let the world know who they are and what they do. Never before has so much professional information available to anyone and everyone.

If you are applying for a job, having you profile in order is as important as your resume. And the profile should closely follow the resume but with Linked In you actually have more opportunity on your profile to creatively highlight features of who you are and what you can do. Where there are “strict” rules about how to put a resume together, Linked in really allows for much more creativity—even just putting a nice professional, friendly picture of yourself on your profile.

Note: I’ve decided not to discuss about me pages because I don’t know enough about them and don’t really know anyone at a professional level who used them).

The best strategy to start using Linked In is simple: sign up, create a profile--then see who you know that you will connect to you, and start building your network. Join Groups that interest you—you can get connections that way. Ask family and their friends if they can connect. There are people who will link to anyone and everyone—find them and connect. If you send me a connection and refer to my blog or Infobarrel, I’ll connect with you—that will give you thousands of connections to start with.

Then start doing searches and find people who are just like you—similar background, similar career goals. Find  people who have the job you want—see what they have to say about themselves—look at how they entered the job market. See how they positioned themselves. See what words they’ve used to describe themselves. Words are free and can’t be owned or plagiarized. All resumes are compilations of what other people have said, perhaps organized or displayed differently. Note: you can also use this stuff in your profile and resume so go back and revise it after you’ve done this research.

After you’ve gotten something decent together, start playing. See who went to your college and graduated with your major—what are they doing now? I bet they’d link to you if you sent a personal note (Hi Joe, I just graduated from blah university with a degree in journalism and I’m looking to build my professional network…).  If you can’t link to them because they aren’t a connection, consider purchasing “inmails” and see how well they work.

Your Linked In profile is a work in progress that can be changed and improved whenever you want or acquire a new skill. You can use it in many ways as a business tool to market yourself. In terms of finding your first job, here are some specific ideas:

  1. Use the slideshow tool to showcase something that you’ve written that might be impressive—even if it’s spec work.
  2. If you have a blog, link it to your profile so people can see it.
  3. Participate in groups by asking good questions and providing insights.
  4. Ask people if they’d be willing to have a brief phone conversation with you about entering a specific job marketing—what skills are needed, etc. Have specific questions in mind.
  5. Be careful with this but asking people within certain companies if they’d introduce you to an HR person because you know that the has a position open that you are qualified to do.

Never before have so many people become so accessible. Use this tool well and wisely.