Many of us (most of us?) begin a job search reactively in response to something — maybe we didn’t get that promotion, the culture changed, we’re not getting the training or support we want, or one of a thousand other reasons. But most of us put off changing jobs or even careers until we’ve reached a very high point of frustration.
What LinkedIn does is this: it makes managing your career a proactive affair. It’s kind of like managing your 401(k): sit back, relax, know that it’s paying dividends, and every once in awhile you get a good surprise. I have had three job offers during the past two years, all of which were unsolicited opportunities that came through LinkedIn. It’s given me the opportunity to move my career in in new directions. The catch? Some of the best opportunities will come around when you least expect them.
With just a few simple steps you can turn your LinkedIn presence into a marketing machine that will generate a lot of opportunity:
- Spend some time putting up a good profile. Your LinkedIn profile is a public-facing resume; make sure the quality you put into it reflects that.
- Link to everybody you know personally or professionally. Think quantity, not quality. This can include people who used to sit two cubes down from you, three jobs ago. You want your network to be as big as you can get it.
- Make sure your resume is online. If someone decides they’re interested in you professionally, your resume should be good enough to make the sale. Don’t make them contact you to get it.
- Don’t worry about responses. Some people will accept your invitations; others won’t. It’s no big deal. It may take some people several weeks to respond to your LinkedIn invitations… again, don’t worry about it.
- Now that you’ve connected to all your cube neighbors, all your old bosses, and maybe even your high-school band mates, connect to as many recruiters as you can find that specialize in your area. Recruiters are both actively looking to place people like you AND they have huge networks. Enough said.
I’ve had this exact discussion before, and I usually hear the same objection: Some people aren’t comfortable sending LinkedIn invitations to people they don’t know particularly well. “Shouldn’t I just connect to people I can vouch for, and that can vouch for me?”
Reason One: It’s a volume game. You want to be included in as many employers’ consideration sets as possible. Don’t be embarrassed to be your own advocate.
Reason Two: By linking to someone, you’ve improved your relationship status. You’ve made better friends just by thinking of them and reaching out.
Reason Three: This is just the beginning of creating your own personal brand.
So get out there! Get your LinkedIn profile polished up and start connecting!