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Everything in your LinkedIn profile can be edited and customized. Use this Visual LinkedIn Profile Checklist, and follow these key tips:
Add to your connections. Invite past and current coworkers, classmates, friends and family to connect with you. Invite only those people that you know, using these connections as a starting point. Be sure to add these three things to your customized invitations: the person’s name, a personal message, and the words “thank you”. The benefit of building your network is that it increases the number of professionals you can contact. Within LinkedIn, you can contact only people who are linked to you, to one of your connections, or who are in a group with you.
There are four levels of connections: first, second, and third degree, as well as group. A first level connection is your direct connection with someone. Second is essentially a “friend of a friend.” A third degree connection is essentially a “friend of a friend of a friend.” We recommend that you focus on your first and second levels, as well as groups. Reaching a second degree contact is done by requesting an email introduction from your intermediary contacts, or via a group you share in common.
Ask for an Introduction. You can ask a first level connection to introduce you to one of their connections. Go to the person’s profile that you would like to message. Hover over the “Inmail” box to see the drop down menu. Select “Get Introduced”. Write a note to your first level connection, asking him or her if they will forward your note along. Make this is a very professional and polite message, since it will be forwarded to the other person. Use the example in informational interviewing sample message, and modify the beginning to reference the name of your first level connection.
Join groups. More connections give you greater access to the millions of other members, so expand your network by joining groups. Using the search toolbar, find groups related to career fields, target cities, professional organizations, current/past employers, or colleges and universities you have attended.
Networking is the most effective job search tool. You can greatly increase your chances of finding job leads or even securing an interview by conducting a type of networking conversation called an informational interview. These informational meetings add to your insight about the company, which will help you write a great cover letter and excel in a job interview. You may later be able to ask those you have interviewed to introduce you to a hiring manager or forward your resume to the right person. (For more details, see the Informational Interviewing page.)
Check out who’s on LinkedIn. Choose “People,” then Advanced Search in the search menu to locate people in your network who work at companies (including corporate, nonprofit, education and government) that you are targeting in your job search.
Use your group memberships to network effectively (and for free).
Go direct into groups to search.
Another option is to go directly into a specific group and select on the number of members, at the top. You can scroll through the first 100 profiles with a free Linkedin account. If you see a member that interests you, hover over their name, then on the right-hand side “Send a message” will appear. When you do not know someone, it is better to “Send a message” rather than ask them to connect with you.
Company pages are a goldmine of information. They include current and former employees, career paths, company statistics, activity, selected job openings and news. Use the “Follow Company” option on the company’s page to have their updates appear on your LinkedIn home page.
Search Jobs that are posted directly to LinkedIn by employers. Some listings include the name of the person who posted the opening.
The purpose of an informational interview is to ask for advice and information, not ask for a job. Useful topics are:
Possible questions to ask: Can you tell me about your career path? Can you describe a typical work day? What are your biggest challenges? What do you enjoy most? What can you suggest to someone starting in this field? Are there any professional organizations I should consider? Is there anyone else that you might recommend I speak with?
Follow up after the meeting. Send a thank you note (in the mail, or via email), to reiterate what you learned and to thank the person for taking the time to meet with you. If a position should open up at the company, get back in touch with that person and ask if you can talk about the opening. He or she might even forward your resume for you.