As I mentioned in a previous post, I am currently looking for a permanent full-time job in marketing communications, ideally generating web content and coordinating a social media presence. As such, I in the process of trying a variety of job search techniques in order to put myself in front of influential people and hiring authorities.
One tool I have been experimenting with is LinkedIn, a professional social networking site. I say "professional" because the site is all about keeping in touch with one's existing business contacts, and making new contacts, helping you "make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return." This differentiates LinkedIn from, say, Facebook, which originated as a means to keep in touch with college friends (though, of course, Facebook does have business/professional applications - pun intended).
I have had a LinkedIn profile since 2004, and have a fair number of contacts. Several job search books and articles I have read recently have indicated that an increasing number of recruiters rely heavily on LinkedIn profiles in their searches for candidates, so I have been working on 'beefing up' my profile.
As a part of my revamping efforts, I started with the Summary section of my profile, updating it with what I had recently (re)written for my resume. I used bullet points to highlight the following...
- key aspects of my background, such as being a professional writer and best-selling author, with eight years’ experience in magazine article writing.
- my extensive experience with creating and administrating Web content (since 1997)
- my passion for social media, and experience with blogs, Facebook & Twitter
- some positive comments from previous work-related feedback/reviews
I specifically defined my ideal work situation: "Ideally I'd like to help build a comprehensive social media marketing campaign to share company insights and enhance branding efforts."
Then I moved on to tweak my previous Work Experience - adding not only more specific job duties, but also specific accomplishments for each position, in quantifiable terms (or what the Job Search guide at About.com calls, "WOW accomplishments"). The quantifiable part is very important, according to Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0. Essentially with any sort of resume or profile, you need to prove to potential employers that you have desirable skills that can benefit their company.
The accomplishments I listed included specific percentages of improvement, or other similar comments to indicate the scope of the task.
- "Collaborated on online banner ad campaign that outpulled ad agency campaign by 12%"
- "Increased participation in ecommerce reporting program by over 500%"
- "Conceptualized and facilitated industry-first Virtual Book Tour, visiting 15 websites and blogs over a two-week period"
- "Writing featured in four nationally-recognized trade publications, three consumer magazines, and seven websites"
In tweaking my profile, I also made a point of including target keywords for which I would like recruiters to find me, such as "social media marketing" and "web content writing".
After optimizing my profile, I turned to my network of contacts. I made a list of everyone I had worked with in previous jobs, focusing specifically on people I had dealt with in the past couple of years. I sent network invitations to those with LinkedIn profiles - out of 19 invitations sent, 11 have accepted. Not a huge increase to my network, but I'm working on it. I currently have 191 contacts, the majority of whom I have actually worked with in a professional capacity.
My next step was to seek out and join Groups that relate to my interests, both professional and personal. I log in several times a week to review Group Discussions, News, and Job posts, and and have been participating more where applicable. This aspect of LinkedIn has been sort of hit and miss, in that many groups seem to be overrun with irrelevant content, and not a lot of valuable networking. Several groups have masses of posts for job "leads" from outside the US, for jobs not related to the group's focus. It can be annoying to sift through that to verify that there is indeed nothing else new. But the plus side is that every group you join puts you in contact with their member list. While you may not have met someone personally, if you are in a group together, you can contact them via LinkedIn, and start a conversation. I haven't tried this yet due to intimidation, but the option is there.
While logged in, I also review the Answers section, where any LinkedIn user can pose a question to the LinkedIn community. There are thousands of questions on any given topic, such as Internet Marketing, Business Operations, Career Management, Startups & Small Businesses, and Technology. Answering questions help improve your visibility and credibility (assuming your answers are relevant and meaningful). Out of the 10 questions I have answered, three of my responses were chosen as "Best Answers". Whether this gives any "oomph" to my profile, I can't say yet, but it's nice affirmation.
I actually can't report on any specific results from optimizing my LinkedIn profile and increasing my participation - nothing *to* report, at this point. More than likely any results will come from an overall effect of being active multiple communities, and being able to bring that experience with me wherever I end up.
What about you? Any successes to report based on participating on LinkedIn? Anything I should add or do differently?
In closing, I've assembled some links to books on using LinkedIn. Let me know if you've read any of them, and what you thought. [Please note my Affiliate link disclaimer]
- Windmill Networking: Understanding, Leveraging & Maximizing LinkedIn: An Unofficial, Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your LinkedIn Brand
- How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Other Social Networks
- LinkedIn For Dummies
- I'm on LinkedIn--Now What??? A Guide to Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn