LinkedIn: Your Number One Frugal Tool for Job Hunting

The social-networking site LinkedIn has turned into the number one business-networking website. It can help promote your small business, establish your industry credentials and -- most importantly -- help you find or upgrade your job. 


I talked to expert Chris Tompkins of GoMediaOnline and GoChrisOnline about establishing a presence on this fabulous, free resource. Here's his step-by-step guide, along with a few of my own thoughts.

1. Joining
This is the easy part. Go to LinkedIn.com and click Join Now. Wasn't so hard, was it?

2. Setting Up Your Profile
Right away this stops many people in their tracks. What should you say about yourself? How do you know if you're doing it right?

Here's the trick: Stop procrastinating and just do it. Create your profile with your basic information and we’ll come back to profile building in a sec.

3. Determine Your Findability
Findability is creating an online and offline presence that helps employers, potential co-workers and career contacts find you.

To achieve findability, answer the LinkedIn set-up questions, keeping in mind the professional presence you want to project. Are you a job hunter, contractor, entrepreneur or solopreneur? Do you want to attract job offers, networking connections or joint ventures? All these questions and more will come up, so choose your answers thoughtfully.

One tip: Be truthful! Nothing kills your online presence more than fudging the facts. You'll be exposed to hundreds or thousands of people over time. Someone you know will know you, so little white lies are a bad move.

4. Consider Keywords
People search for contacts and people they know based on keywords. For example, if you have specialized experience in the IT industry, include IT keywords in your profile that will make it easy for others to find you.

Make sure you include positions from your past and current jobs, much as you would a resume. Educational background, degrees achievements and awards also are a necessity.

The point of LinkedIn membership is to widen your network of connections in a positive way. Pretend you’re walking into a job interview. How do you introduce yourself? How do you answer the question, “So tell me about yourself?

Other LinkedIn members don’t just want a resume recitation, however. They want to know you; what you’re about; what makes you tick; what you have to offer to others. Reading other profiles can provide good ideas about how to present yourself in the best light.

5. View Your Profile
Click on the "View My Profile" button to see what others will see and then adjust as needed.

6. Start Linking
Now that you have your profile under control it's time to begin networking with others. Begin with your closest circle of friends, colleagues, coworkers, etc.

Search for them using the "People" search bar. LinkedIn also can connect you to people you know by syncing with your email inbox and sending out invitations. You'll want to edit the list LinkedIn presents to weed out those who shouldn't see your profile, like a present employer who doesn't know you're job hunting.

7. Ask For References
Now that you've found established connections it's time to ask them for references. You'll find the "Request Recommendations" link on the right side of your home page.

Rather than just use the standard copy, personalize your request and suggest topics they might mention in their recommendation. It's standard practice to return the favor, so you might get a jump on that by writing recommendations for your connections first. Like as not they'll automatically write one for you in return, without asking.

8. Join Groups
LinkedIn groups are available on just about every business-related topic out there. Use the pull-down menu in the search box to access "groups" and search by topic area. For example, if you're interested in a PR job, type in "Public Relations."

Make sure you read the guidelines for each group as some behaviors can get you kicked out and give you a bad reputation.

9. That's It
Those are the basics. Other than continuing to expand your connections and getting involved in groups, you're good to go.

10. For More Information
Check out the Go Frugal post "10 Steps to Landing a Job Using Social Media." You also might want to read Steve Weber's book "Wired for Work: Get a Job FAST Using LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter." Buy this and similar books via free shipping offers from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

In the meantime, why not share your tips for effectively using LinkedIn?

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