Over the past few weeks I have been inviting people to LinkedIn to help them with their job search or business building.
I have watched them accept the invitation and then do nothing with their account afterwords, probably because of the potentially daunting aspect of LinkedIn. So, to help with that task, I decided to post how I feel this site can best be used. (I am sure there are other ways as well, and I would love to hear your comments on how you use LinkedIn here!)
One of the great aspects of LinkedIn is the ability to build a profile on yourself, telling who you worked with company wise, and what you are currently doing, and what you are looking to do, be it job hunt or business hunt. So, the first step is to set up each and every company you have worked for, and what you did for that company. The more detailed you are, the better off you are, as people get to know you better! (I wouldn't go into why you left, etc, just what kind of wokr/etc you did at each job!)
Next, after you have that in, you have the opportunity to check each company for people already on LinkedIn and invite them to connect to your profile as a contact. Go through each company you have worked for, and invite each person you knew, at any level, and invite them into your list!
After you have completed that, go to your email list and add those people as well, reguardless who they are. (If they don't want to join, they won't!)
Now, after you start getting people in your list, go visit their profile, read it over, and what they are looking for out of LinkedIn, if you can help them, help them, if they can help you, talk to them!
You can, in most cases, now see who is LinkedIn to this contact, and go look at their profiles. Get to know the people (NETWORK!!) in your contacts list and in their contacts list!! Networking is one of the fastest ways of building business, finding a job, etc.!
Now, you have your account set up, you have one or more contacts in your profile, and you are looking for work. When you find a company that is looking for YOU (they just don't know it's you yet), go to your LinkedIn page and do a search on that company. If someone in your contacts list knows someone from that company, ask to talk to that person (by clicking on "Make Contact" in their profile). The people inbetween you and the person you want to talk to, should forward on your request.
That request should be along the lines of:
"Hello, I see that XYZ company is hiring for ABC job, and that you (use to or are) work for XYZ. Would you be able to tell me more about the company? (If they left the company, find out why, if they are still there, see if they know who the hiring manager is.)"
Be brief, but get your request in! Once they get back to you, you should have more information about the company and hopefully contact info on who to send a second copy, you should apply through the requested means as well, hopefully that person is
the hiring manager to insure (s)he gets a copy of your great resume!
I have also posted some comments on networking TDBell Enterprises, Inc's BLog, which includes a link to a GREAT book on Networking in general.