By: Lisa Passanisi
As business students and working professionals, we are frequently told that LinkedIn is a necessity when making connections and applying to jobs or internships. However, for too many people, LinkedIn’s usefulness ends where it begins. Successfully utilizing LinkedIn extends beyond merely creating a profile and adding connections.
So what should you do once you’ve set up your basic profile?
- Follow relevant companies and industries.
Keeping up-to-date with industry trends and company news is essential to interviewing and remaining informed at work. Staying informed can help you to shine during your next interview, whether it is professional or informational. Moreover, keeping up-to-date is an easy way to highlight your passion for a certain company or industry.
Pulse and SlideShare offer additional ways you can keep up with relevant companies and industries. If you have smartphone or tablet, these features can even be downloaded as separate applications with more advanced features.
- Send personalized connection requests.
If you select to “connect” LinkedIn will send a standard message expressing your interest in adding someone to your network. This type of request is appropriate when adding peers, classmates, or friends. However, when adding someone with whom you do not have a close relationship, personalization becomes necessary.
Think of your connection requests in the same way you would think of an email. The person whom you have contacted should know why you want to connect with them and should see a clear indication that you have a passion for their field and an eagerness to learn.
- Join groups.
Common groups could include professional organizations, collegiate alumni networks, or even school clubs. LinkedIn groups provide you with another means of expanding your network. Joining groups allows you to message individuals whom you may not know directly without needing to pay for a Premium account.
- Connect with alumni.
Is there a particular industry you want to work in, or a company you dream of working for? Through the alumni search tool, you can see how you are connected to individuals in your target companies. Alumni are great resources because they have gone through similar school experiences and can provide advice for navigating the job/internship search process and can provide insight into industries that you may not have gotten exposed to in a classroom setting.
Please keep in mind that it is never appropriate to ask an informational interviewee to give you a job or to pass your resume along to anyone in their company. If they offer to do so, however, it is appropriate to accept their offer if you have a genuine interest in the field.
- Like, Comment on, and Create Content.
Liking and commenting on content shared by others is a great way to increase your visibility on LinkedIn. Not only will your comments and “likes” show up in your network’s feeds, but it will also show in in the feed of anyone who follows that particular company or publisher.
Creating or sharing your own content, whether that be media or blog posts, is another great way to highlight your interest in a particular field. When you share posts they are visible to anyone on LinkedIn, and when members of your community comment on, share, or like your content, your posts will show up in the feeds of their network.