I joined the professional network LinkedIn early in its life, and immediately reached out to a handful of colleagues and former co-workers to get started. And then essentially stopped.
Oddly enough I had been drawn to it as a tool for finding subject matter experts in our mammoth, matrixed company, but let it more or less idle afterward… until I needed to look for work again. Fortunately during that period I found another opportunity at the same employer, and then again when more business changes occurred. With no need to search, I linked out.
Until the third time turned out not to be a charm, and I was back amongst the ranks of the unemployed, desperate for any edge to separate me from an unusually high swelling sea of job seekers.
It wasn’t until losing out on a few choice opportunities to stay with that employer that I realized I had goofed somewhere. People who I thought knew me really didn’t. I had come across their radar too infrequently. Colleagues who had established and maintained social contact got the opportunities instead.
So I had to rethink my approach to professional social networking. LinkedIn isn’t a stop/start sort of tool. In addition to your profile, you have the opportunity to answer questions, post status updates, converse with group members and numerous other activities. This makes LinkedIn ultimately a dynamic metaresumé, enabled with hooks that grab the attention of potential partners and employers. Stay active there, and your presence is prominent. You’ll also come up in more searches, which can result in more profile views.
LinkedIn allows you to be proactive about your prospects, reaching countless employers and other resources without having to spend time on myriad accounts. The trick is to integrate participation there with your daily routine so that even that is not a great deal of work. Connect your account to Twitter and/or Facebook and the job gets a little easier. Make use of the event and group tools for training and networking, and of course questions for solutions to pressing problems. Follow companies in which you’re interested to see their updates as well– including new job listings.
No matter what, staying on top of LinkedIn has become a near-necessity in today’s tough job market. Thankfully a steady stream of tweaks and improvements have been making this easier. A little activity there goes a long way. If you don’t do it, your competitors will… and are.