Sunday, July 23, 2017

Use LinkedIn as a tool to kick-start your career!

          In our last blog, we familiarized ourselves with the importance of networking in building a career, ways to prepare for networking, myths surrounding it etc. for a clear pathway to tap your network successfully and access the "Hidden Job Market".

As an added layer, a simple technique can be used to seal the deal and bag the job you want. This involves a combination of using LinkedIn effectively and tapping into your inner courage to put yourself out there and reach out to the right connections.

LinkedIn has become a must have tool for any career oriented individual in today’s market. Remember to set yourself up for success by building your LinkedIn profile out to the last detail (including your summary and your 120 character headline!) Leverage your resume, and use the same covenants we followed there.

With your profile in order, understanding how connections work on LinkedIn can get the tool working for you:

People in your LinkedIn network are called connections. A connection can be a 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, 3rd-degree connections, or fellow members of your LinkedIn groups.

A 1st-degree connection is someone you're directly connected to, either because you accepted their direct invitation to connect or vice versa. These connections can be easily contacted with a message on LinkedIn.
A 2nd-degree connection is someone who is not directly connected to you but is connected to one or more of your 1st-degree connections. You can send an invitation to them by clicking the Connect button on their profile page, or by contacting them through InMail - a premium feature for paying members of LinkedIn. Unless you are a recruiter, I’d say the paid feature wouldn’t be of much value for fresh grads.
A 3rd-degree connection is someone who is connected to your 2nd-degree connections. There are two degrees of separation between you and your 3rd-degree connection.
·       If their first and last names are fully displayed, you can send them an invitation by simply clicking Connect.
·       If their first name and the first letter of their last name is displayed, you cannot Connect with them, just isn't an option due to their connection preferences. However, you can contact them through an InMail if you have LinkedIn Premium.
An icon next to their name in search results or on their profile indicates the type of connection you have with them.

Now, about fellow members of your LinkedIn Groups - These contacts are considered part of your network because you are both members of the same LinkedIn group (there are various groups you can join on LinkedIn ranging from college alumni to people of the same profession. Many of these groups are on an invite-only basis). The Highlights section of a member profile displays the group(s) you both are a part of and you can contact them by sending a message on LinkedIn or through the group.
LinkedIn Member (Out of Network) are those who fall outside the categories listed above. As always, you can contact these folks too through an InMail if you are a paying LinkedIn member. There is no option to filter and search specifically for members falling under this category.

Now as we know, building an effective network of connections is always helpful. For that, connect with everyone you know, now! Ensure you know them in some tangible manner, so it's not completely random, but given this is a professional network- not a social one – it can go beyond friends & family, to classmates, professors, peers, people you met in seminars and so on! If your connection is more of an acquaintance with a background that could match your interests, it may be worthwhile adding a note to your invitations. LinkedIn provides an option to include such a note in invitations (with a default message that’d be wise to customize before sending out).

As a student, you may know just 30-40 people and a handful of professionals in the working world. But don’t despair. You are on the right track as once these 30-40 contacts become your 1st-degree connections on LinkedIn, their network of connections opens up to you as 2nd-degree connections that you can now reach out to!

What does this mean for you? You have access to numerous connections with each of your 30 or so connections having their own set of connections which could be 1 or 30 or 40 or 100 or even 1000. Multiply that by 30, and that’s the field of contacts you have access to as they become your second-degree connections! And what’s more, these 2nd-degree connections, in turn, have each of their networks exposed to you as 3rd-degree connections. These connections can easily become 2nd degree if your original list of 2nd-degree connections accept your direct invite and become 1st-degree contacts. You see how this goes - connecting with people helps & your network is NOT as small as you think which is a wonderful reason to be excited :)

While going on a spree of connecting with the 2nd and the 3rd-degree connections to ask for jobs may be tempting, know that opening your network does not make it okay to simply send connection requests to your 2nd and 3rd-degree connections in hopes of a job. What you’d want to do, is strategically approaching them through your 1st-degree network! And here’s how.

Start by searching for open jobs. Simply search for jobs on the LinkedIn search bar using relevant keywords like you would with Google search. Add in the title, department, location etc. to narrow your search.  You can even set up regular alerts on LinkedIn for the jobs matching your filters.

Read and understand the job description of postings that interest you, and save them. You’ll see the shiny apply button, but don’t click that just yet.

• Look through the common connections you may have. LinkedIn automatically filters and shows any of your direct 1st degree connections, or your 2nd or 3rd-degree connection who works at the organization where this job is available. This is conveniently available right on the job description page, only to you.
• If there are some common connection(s) listed, send an invite to the most relevant connection listed on the job post, and ask if you can chat with them about the opening as you are interested in the job, and see if they would mind referring you to the role. If you know the person and are a connection, make the message personal. If the person is an acquaintance or a stranger, keep the message formal, courteous and actionable.

Remember, your odds of getting an interview if you just applying are 1 in 60, but if you know someone from that organization, the odds rise greatly to 1 in 6.

Hesitant to message 2nd or 3rd-degree connections? Don’t know them well enough, or just plain shy? Just see if any of your 1st-degree connections, who are connected to that relevant contact, can e-introduce you on LinkedIn messaging and you can take it from there!

The simple yet effective way to get closer to a job is just through writing and talking to the right people! It takes guts and efforts to talk to or approach people for help with a job. But if you can overcome that fear of approaching and simply asking people, LinkedIn is one of the best tools that make jobs and the right contacts visible to you and in turn, makes your profile visible to people that matter!

Hope you enjoyed and learned a bit about LinkedIn as a networking tool from the read! In our next blog, we will go even further and look into how you can ace telephone/video/lunch interviews! Stay tuned :)

"If you are facing the right direction, all you have to do is keep walking"

Manish N Gaba
(Pic Courtesy – Unsplash)

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