“What is the purpose of LinkedIn?” my friend asked as we sat sipping our Passion Tango teas. She continued, “I don’t get why all these people are trying to connect with me on LinkedIn. If I wanted to talk to someone, I would just pick up the phone.”
I could see my friend’s point. She is a small business owner and she wasn’t sure if connecting on LinkedIn was really beneficial to building her business. Here are three key reasons where I see benefits in using LinkedIn:
1. Get REAL names of REAL people. Picking up the phone works if you know who you are trying to reach. I like that LinkedIn provides a way to do some sleuthing to figure out who I want to talk to, like business owners or hiring managers. Once I have a contact name, I can then figure out the best strategy to get in touch. If you want to do some information interviews to get some advice, LinkedIn is the perfect place to identify potential contacts.
2. Conduct career research. Use LinkedIn to figure out how successful people got to where they are. Look at profiles of people you admire. What type of education or training did they pursue? Where did they work and what types of roles did they take on before they got to where they are now?
3. Find points of connection before a meeting or interview. Recently, I was going to a meeting where I did not know some of the participants. I went onto LinkedIn before our meeting to see what we had in common. It made starting a conversation much easier!
My friend’s comment got me thinking. I agree with her that there are many times when we really do need to pick up the phone instead of hiding behind our computer screens. But this does not negate the importance of trying varied strategies when trying to build a career or conduct a job search. As I reflected on our conversation later, I came up with eight more great reasons to use LinkedIn that I wish I had shared with her. Here they are:
4. Keep in touch with acquaintances, past colleagues, or references. The nature of work is becoming more transient. Clients that I see often have upwards of 5-7 employers on their resumes and it can be tricky to stay in touch if you aren’t comfortable using a personal network like Facebook or when your contacts move on. That’s where LinkedIn is great – you can keep the relationship professional and you always have a way to get in touch even if your contact changes jobs.
5. Get found by recruiters. Recruiters love LinkedIn. I have heard many stories of people being contacted by a recruiter through LinkedIn, particularly for technical, leadership, and trades positions. The question then is “Why not use LinkedIn and see what happens?”
6. Provide more information to potential employers: LinkedIn is often used as a pre-background check. You should expect that you will be googled by a potential employer. Why not use your LinkedIn profile to highlight additional information that you were not able to fit on your resume? You can include recommendations from others, projects you have worked on, or articles you have published.
7. Follow companies and find out about upcoming positions. LinkedIn has become more robust over the years and now allows you to follow thought leaders and companies. This is a great way to stay current on new ideas and potentially see job opportunities from companies you are interested in before anyone else does.
8. Share and gain industry knowledge. I love the LinkedIn groups feature. You can research groups associated with your area of interest and then start to hear other people’s ideas and contribute your own ideas. If you are currently unemployed, this is a fabulous way to stay up-to-date on the emerging trends and ideas. Imagine being in an interview and being able to share some tidbits of knowledge that you have gained through your active participation and contribution to conversations happening in your industry!
9. Show your face. Here we come to the great irony of job search. You are told not to put a picture on your resume, but then you are encouraged to put a picture up on your LinkedIn profile. For better or worse, the reality is that people will feel more connected to you if they see a picture of you. (Note: please make sure that you have a decent picture in your profile!)
10. Have an opinion and promote yourself. The tone of LinkedIn is different than a resume as it is often more casual. And did you know that you can now publish articles on LinkedIn? If you want to share professional ideas or opinions, LinkedIn is the place where this is welcome!
11. Keep changing your profile. Unlike your resume which is static once it is submitted, you can continually look for ways to improve your LinkedIn profile. You can build additional content and publish articles as well as update your profile status on a regular basis.
So there you have it. If you are skeptical about LinkedIn like my friend is, hopefully, now you have a few ideas to consider about how LinkedIn might benefit your career, job search, or business!
Kristin Vandegriend is a Career Coach and Resume Writer at Career Story. With over 10+ years of experience in HR and career development, she has successfully worked with hundreds of clients to find meaningful and sustainable work. Her passion is helping clients identify career paths and creative job search strategies that leverage and market their personal strengths and resilience. Connect with her onTwitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.