LinkedIn: Your New Favorite Networking Tool

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LinkedIn: Your New Favorite Networking Tool

Private: Smith College
Education
October 15, 2013
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By now, you’ve at least heard about LinkedIn, the largest online professional networking site… And perhaps you’ve already made a LinkedIn profile to market your skills and make you look really good when people Google-search your name– great!…But now what? Now that you’ve created your LinkedIn profile, what are the best ways to use it?You’ll be happy to learn– LinkedIn is far more than just a marketing tool: It’s also a networking and research tool that really can, through harvesting valuable connections and focusing your job search, help you get hired.Here’s HOW: Make *Meaningful* ConnectionsYou always want to connect with people you know (otherwise it’s a little creepy [just a little]), so maybe start with your family and friends! Best practice is to delete the “I’d like to add you to my professional network,” and replace it with a personal message about how you know your connection, including their name and the words “thank you.” LinkedIn is not like Twitter, where it’s socially acceptable to follow anyone, or like Facebook where you can friend everyone you met once and their dog (if ONLY puppies had social networking sites!). With LinkedIn you need to be both professional and personable–so channel that deep-seated anxiety you have about your Twitter and Facebook profiles possibly preventing you from getting a job into the idea that maybe LinkedIn will!Research CompaniesThere’s a “Search Companies” function on LinkedIn where you can search companies by size, location, industry, or keyword. This is great for narrowing your job search or researching a company you’re applying to. LinkedIn also shows you if there’s anyone in your network employed at the organization. Prepare for InterviewsBefore an interview, you should definitely look over the company’s LinkedIn Page, as well as your interviewer’s profile. Pay close attention to the company’s values and culture, as well as the skills and job functions utilized by its employees. Think about way you have exhibited the same traits and used the same skills.Join Tufts GroupsThere are over 100 Tufts groups on LinkedIn–many of which are career-specific–so join as many Tufts groups as you find intriguing. Looking for a good place to start? The two largest Tufts groups on LinkedIn: Tufts University Professional Network and Tufts University Alumni are must-joins.Gather Networking Contacts In Your GroupsSearch your groups for potential networking contacts. Anyone doing anything you’d like to be doing? Anyone working for a company you’d like to work for? Using the “Find Alumni” ToolUnder the “Network” tab, LinkedIn has this AWESOME “Find Alumni” tool that can help you search your alma mater’s alumni (THOUSANDS OF JUMBOS!) by keyword, company, location, major, activity, or field! Look for people whose career path is relevant to your interests, and then…Network with Contacts!Even if you’re not connected, LinkedIn allows group members to message each other. So no need to pay money for InMail–Just search a contact’s name in the group to send them a message… But not just any message:THE INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWThis is essentially the meat (or tofu, if you’re vegetarian) of LinkedIn networking. This is what you need to do to get you a job. I strongly suggest reading through this link, especially page 4 on Informational Interviews. In the meantime, here is a sample LinkedIn message:Subject line: Tufts IR major seeking career advice Dear Mr./Ms. (Last Name),I’m a senior IR major at Tufts and I found your name through the Tufts International Relations Program group on LinkedIn. From your LinkedIn profile, I see that you’ve worked at a variety of NGOs, most recently in Syria.As I’ve focused my own studies on the Middle East, including time spent studying abroad in Cairo, I’d like to return to the region after college. I’d love to hear about your own experiences living and working in the region, as well as any advice you might have for me as I begin an international job search.I wonder if you might have 20 minutes to speak, at your convenience, on the phone or via Skype. Thank you for considering my request.Sincerely,Your NameTufts University, Class of XXXXPerfecting Your ProfileBefore you begin using LinkedIn to network, you’ll want to make sure your profile says everything you want it to say and is ready to go! Here are some of my favorite Career Center tips:Fill in your experience; don’t be shy. Your resume should only be one page, so here is the place to show off what you’ve accomplished in detail. Use targeted keywords and don’t forget about any projects, organizations, volunteer work, and causes you’ve been involved with.Update your headline. “Graduating Economics major seeking financial analyst position”–be direct and simple, but also engaging and meaningful.Upload a professional photo. You wouldn’t trust someone without a profile photo–Adding a face to your profile breeds familiarity, which breeds trust, which is essential to networking.Tell your story. The section that says “Summary” is where you can write about what you do and why–or what you’d like to do and why! Write your summary in first person to add a voice to your profile, include targeted words, and keep it career-oriented.Market your skills. Give yourself credit for your areas of expertise– What languages do you speak? Which computer programs or websites can you use proficiently? Are there any skills that you picked up while working in the lab?Pick a location and industry–any location and industry! It doesn’t have to be “Higher Education in the Greater Boston Area” just because we’re Tufts students on the Medford campus. Gives some thought to where you want to be.Include all of your links. Have a blog or Twitter that you’re looking to show off to a potential employer? Link away! You can also link from your blog/Twitter to your LinkedIn.Don’t forget to proofread. Because your skills should never be upstaged by the wrong “your” or “there.” Because you care.Personalize your URL. So that when you include your LinkedIn address on your resume and emails, you won’t have to remember: LinkedIn.com/abcdefg983745905820917452334.Publicize your profile! Your LinkedIn is one of the few things about you on the internet that you want everyone to see. That being said, it’s best to update your privacy settings so you are in fact visible to “everyone.”If you found these tips helpful and want to learn more, call the Tufts Career Center at (617) 627-3299 to pre-register for our next LinkedIn Lab on Wednesday, October 23rd, 12-1pm in Eaton 208.Until next time,Best regards,Nirvanna

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