www.LinkedIn.com is a professional networking site. It has about 200 million users in the United States and more than 400 million users worldwide. And it’s a job seeker’s dream come true. LinkedIn allows registered users to create a professional profile and easily find a network of people who can help them with their career goals. A profile is a personal page on LinkedIn. Profiles can include current and past employers, schools attended, skills, industries, group memberships, etc. There are many benefits to having a LinkedIn account and profile. For people who want to use informational interviews, the biggest benefits of using LinkedIn are:
- The ability to quickly search for and identify people by type of job, industry, school attended, and skill set — and see how you are connected to them
- The ability to easily connect with people to expand your network and get the career advice and information you want
Best of all, a basic LinkedIn membership is free. If you don’t have a personal profile on LinkedIn, create one now!
The Power Of LinkedIn Connections
The people who are part of your LinkedIn network are called your “connections.”
- 1st degree connections are people you are directly connected to on LinkedIn.
- 2nd degree connections are people who are connected to your 1st degree connections. (You can often ask these 1st degree connections to introduce these 2nd degree connections for an informational interview.)
- Group connections are people who are belong to the same LinkedIn group as you.
To turn someone you know into a 1st degree connection on LinkedIn, you simply invite that person to join your network so they can accept. However, be careful not to request a connection to people you do not know on LinkedIn – LinkedIn has been known to kick people off for that.
While it’s not absolutely necessary, to get the most benefit from LinkedIn, I encourage you to connect to the people you know (friends, colleagues, professors, classmates, etc.) who have profiles on LinkedIn. The more 1st degree connections you have on LinkedIn, the more likely it is that you’ll discover 2nd degree connections and other people who can introduce you to the people you who can give you career advice and assistance.
LinkedIn Groups are places where alumni from the same school, professionals in the same industry, and people with the same interests connect. A major benefit of joining LinkedIn groups is that you are instantly ‘connected’ to everyone in that group, which can be remarkably helpful to finding the right people for informational interviews.
You can find groups to join by using the “search” feature at the top of the LinkedIn homepage. (LinkedIn’s Help Center is an excellent and comprehensive guide that covers how to set up your profile, and connect to people and groups.
To access the Help Center, log in to your profile, click on ‘Account & Settings’ and choose ‘Help Center’.)
Here’s your action step now – build your 1st degree and group connections on LinkedIn and read this article on how to Use LinkedIn To Find People Who Can Give You the Career Assistance You Want.