LinkedIn is the largest social network of professionals, now boasting more than 135 million members in over 200 countries and territories. If you have signed up for LinkedIn but rarely use it, or haven’t even signed up yet, consider using LinkedIn more regularly as one of your New Year’s resolutions. If you need a few reasons why, here are 12 ways you might not have thought of to use LinkedIn in 2012:
Look for a Job
If you’re looking for a job, you can use LinkedIn to develop an online professional profile and resume by listing present and past jobs and responsibilities. You can also go into detail about your professional career, which is a great place to write about where you have worked and where you want to go in your career. Once you have this profile established, you can search for specific companies to see if they are hiring, or generally search LinkedIn for open positions related to careers in which you may be interested.
It’s not uncommon to be passed on a job offer because your potential employer was unable to reach your references. LinkedIn resolves this problem, as previous managers and colleagues can leave glowing recommendations right on your LinkedIn profile. Should you apply for a job via LinkedIn, your potential employer may be less likely to move on to the next candidate if they can’t actually talk with your references, as your recommendations already speak highly of you.
Get Answers to Your Questions — Or Answer Questions
The Answers section of LinkedIn is a great way to find expert advice about topics related to your interests or career. LinkedIn’s Answers section is also a good way to increase your own visibility if you often provide helpful responses to the questions of others, especially if the questions are difficult to answer or are very niche topics. If you’re looking for advice related to your job, or are thinking of switching careers, LinkedIn’s Answers is a great place to start.
Stay Connected Wherever You Are
You can use LinkedIn’s mobile apps for Android, iPhone, the BlackBerry, and Palm to view profiles, invite new connections, and access to LinkedIn Answers from your phone whenever you are on the go.
Share Your Content
If you already use LinkedIn, you likely have more than a few connections. These connections are a great resource for sharing your original content, such as blog posts, infographics, or YouTube videos, which can drive traffic back to your blog or business’ website and help your own network grow. If your company is hiring, sharing information with your network is a great way to find trusted candidates for a job that you know your connections believe would be a great fit.
Prepare for an Interview
Nothing is more awkward than going to a job interview for a company you know nothing about, let alone interview with management you have never met. If you know you have a job interview (congratulations!), use LinkedIn to research the company’s history, mission, and culture. If you happen to know who you will be interviewing with as well, use LinkedIn to pull up their profiles to find a common connection. Did you both attend the same college? Developing a personal connection during the interview can only help you turn that interview into a job offer.
Prepare for a New Job
If you were offered or recruited for a new job, you’re likely preparing for the shock of a new company culture. LinkedIn can help you prepare for your new job with LinkedIn’s company profiles. You can use your new company’s profile to browse the profiles of those who currently work at the company to get a grasp of the culture, as well as familiarize yourself with your new colleagues. This will help you get to know people faster — including their potential pain points. This is especially useful if you know who will be your boss.
Since LinkedIn is the largest professional network, it is a great source for connecting professionals who may be able to complement each others’ services — such as a wedding planner with a catering company. If you often play the middle-man, you can use LinkedIn to connect complimentary professionals, or consider using LinkedIn to make a professional introduction of a friend to a hiring manager to whom you’re connected. While Facebook is great for sharing photos of babies and engagement rings, LinkedIn is the best social network to connect your friends and colleagues on a professional level.
Do you have your own business? Are you in charge of promoting a business you work for? LinkedIn is a great platform for advertising by promoting your content — especially ads related to job openings or B2B services — to LinkedIn members on the site. You can even specify exactly who will see your ads, such as specific types of employees or demographics of users.
Find More Customers
Is your business looking for more customers? (That’s rhetorical, of course!) You can use LinkedIn to find more customers by not only have a complete, accurate profile, but by also asking your current customers to write recommendations about your business. These recommendations will be published on your LinkedIn profile and will be broadcast to their entire LinkedIn network.
Network with Like-minded Professionals
Did you know that LinkedIn has a vast array of groups dedicated to helping you find other professionals interested in similar types of careers or hobbies? You can search LinkedIn’s groups to find other LinkedIn users who have similar careers or hobbies, or use this feature to join groups of people who have interests in a career you may be interested in someday. These groups are also a great resource for finding specific types of professionals when you need to plan an event that requires their types of services, such as wedding planners.
Stay in Touch with Your College Classmates
Facebook is an easy way to stay in touch with high school classmates, but how do you connect to the thousands of people with which you graduated from college? LinkedIn now features alumni groups, which are an excellent resource for connecting with alumni who have inside information about companies who are hiring or expanding. Alumni groups on LinkedIn are also a great source for alumni who have moved away from their college’s city but want to connect with alumni in their new hometown, such as for football games or just professional networking. LinkedIn’s search feature can help you find the right alumni group for your college or University.
Are you a current LinkedIn user? If so, how do you use LinkedIn? Share your thoughts in the comments.
CC image via The DEMO Conference