How can LinkedIn get you a job fast? This guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Profile – the LinkedIn page describing you. The Public version is seen by anyone not signed in to LinkedIn and can be found by search engines.
Relationship – “1st degree” users are LinkedIn users that you connect with directly. “2nd degree” connections are those that require you to go through one middle man connection to reach. “3rd degree” means two middle man connections are needed to contact the LinkedIn user.
Connection – a 1st degree LinkedIn user in your network.
Inside connection – a connection employed at a company you're targeting.
Introductions – a way to contact 2nd or 3rd degree connections via middle man connections.
Recommendations – positive feedback about you from another LinkedIn connection.
InMails – LinkedIn's internal emails. Must be a premium member or pay US$10 per InMail.
OpenLink Network – an exclusive network for premium members only. However, premium members can opt to allow any LinkedIn user to send them an OpenLink message which is like a free InMail.
Make the right choices first
Join LinkedIn. 17 million and counting, there's still room for more.
Only join LinkedIn once. Having multiple accounts will only dilute the usefulness of each individual profile, and LinkedIn Customer Support cannot merge accounts for you.
Update your account with all your email addresses that people might use for LinkedIn invitations. This will help you avoid creating multiple accounts by accident.
Consider upgrading to a premium account with features such as enhanced search results containing relevant LinkedIn users that aren't yet connections of yours. You can then contact them with InMails which have a much higher rate of being opened that regular email.
Use a LinkedIn-generated email signature to promote your public profile. It will also help grow your network of connections from your email recipients.
Promote your profile on your blog, other websites and forum signatures with official LinkedIn buttons.
Update your profile regularly. The easiest way to do this is by constantly adding connections. Every change highlights your profile on connections' Network Updates pages, giving you more exposure.
Multiply recommendations, yours and theirs
Who the recommendations are from is more important than the number of recommendations, at least when it comes to job search. Better to have a recommendation from a past boss than from 5 people with no obvious connection to your work experience. If you're a freelancer, better to have recommendations from past clients.
The best way to get recommendations is to achieve success for other people. Recommendations from friends and family or other fans may be nice for your ego but it's the recommendations based on actual success stories that will resonate with a potential employer.
Ask for recommendations from the people for whom you've achieved success. LinkedIn advises asking for recommendations from “former managers, colleagues and co-workers, customers and clients, business partners” but just like when asking for reference letters, start with the people for whom you've directly achieved success, beginning with people of authority such as past employers.
Get as many recommendations as you can from past employers and clients. If all the employers in your work history give you recommendations, your resulting LinkedIn profile will strongly push potential employers to think that you will bring them the success that will make them want to recommend you as well. Make this a goal for completing your profile.
Encourage connections to improve their recommendations to meet the standards of your public profile in promoting you towards your next job. People like to help as long as they don't feel you're wasting their time. Tell them what kind of work you're looking for so that they can give you a message that's more appropriate. Another tack- if it would help make the recommendation “timeless”, suggest which success story you'd like them to mention.
Write as many recommendations as you can about people in your network by first focusing on the people who would want your recommendation most.
Be truthful with your recommendations. This is your credibility that will be on public display.
Don't write solicited recommendations unless you are comfortable doing so. As your personal brand grows, you might be asked for recommendations by people you barely know, such as people looking for a “recommendation exchange”. If you can't be truthful or if you have nothing to say that hasn't already been said by others, don't give a recommendation at all.
Hide bad recommendations that are exaggerated or just plain false. People will rarely ever use a LinkedIn recommendation to give you constructive criticism but there are Internet trolls who might leave you fake recommendations.
Maximize your connections
Get the best
Upload your work and personal address books to LinkedIn to discover potential connections and sources of recommendations. Then begin inviting connections beginning with people who are already on LinkedIn.
Leverage other social networks such as Facebook to find people with whom you can also connect on LinkedIn. Facebook is better than LinkedIn at finding former teachers, classmates and other people who knew you in the past. Once on Facebook, asked them to connect with you on LinkedIn too.
When you invite new connections, write personalized messages instead of the boring default suggestion from LinkedIn unless the recipient is already waiting for your invite.
A great way to grow your network is to write recommendations about potential connections. If the person isn't on LinkedIn, the recommendation will give them a reason to join. Even if they don't join, you will likely leave a positive impression that may help later.
Invite or accept connections only with people you trust and share the same social networking values. This isn't MySpace where the objective is to have as many friends as possible. Your objective is to leverage the network to find a job. You need help from people you can depend on. Only people you trust can possibly write truthful recommendations.
Remove connections that have lost your trust before they can do any damage to your network or waste more of your time.
Reach the best
Install the LinkedIn Toolbar for your browser to make searching LinkedIn easy. The Toolbar also allows you to bookmark other users' profiles from LinkedIn search results.
Use the LinkedIn JobsInsider (part of the LinkedIn toolbar) if you're looking for work on major job sites such as Monster, HotJobs, CareerBuilder, Craigslist, Vault, or Dice. It will save you time by automatically display your inside connections for the company mentioned in any job listing.
Whether via the Toolbar or LinkedIn's onsite Jobs Search, be specific when searching for contacts. Include job titles where relevant and geographic location if you're aiming to work in a specific city or region.
Search for headhunters and recruiters in your domain of expertise. They will always want to talk to you since you represent a business opportunity for them.
Ask your connections to send over profiles of people relevant to your job search.
To contact specific LinkedIn users that aren't in your network even to the 3rd degree, use free OpenLink messages if those users are accepting them or join a LinkedIn Group they're in. As a last resort, consider buying individual InMails.
Use Introductions to contact people in your network at the 2nd or 3rd degree. You'll be more successful if your message includes a suggestion describing how you can help them – even with a simple tip – instead of vice-versa.
You can also use Introductions to reach inside connections as a way to request referrals to hiring managers. This is especially useful if the inside connections' companies have win-win employee referral bonus programs.
Other conversation starters over Introductions are to do company reference checks by asking former employees about a company or hiring manager. This way you get your research done without the company knowing.
Respond to LinkedIn Answers on topics in your industry. Answering relevant industry questions looks great on your public profile where you can display “questions you have asked, answers you have provided, and expertise you have earned by providing the best answers to questions.”
Ask your connections to send you questions they think you can answer via the Share This link beneath the question.
Respond to LinkedIn Answers from employees in targeted companies as a lead-in to generating inside connections.
Join industry-related LinkedIn Groups, as many as you can handle. It's a terrific way to meet people and get relevant new connections. Remember that you can contact group members directly as if they're already connected with you.
Create your own LinkedIn Group as a way to build stature in your industry, but only if your Group will creates value and so will attract users that you currently can't reach directly. Simply copying an existing group for no apparent reason will only lower your credibility.
Guy Kawasaki has more tips in his article Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn.