I no longer keep a resume. LinkedIn is my resume. I keep it up to date on a regular basis and it contains more information and more clickable links than a paper resume could ever hope to accomplish. If people ask for my resume, I send them my my LinkedIn URL.
Many people stop there. LinkedIn only becomes an online resume but not a social network or a place to build connections. But LinkedIn is set up perfectly to be able to make connections and that is what this blog post will cover.
Start with your Profile
Before proceeding with making connections, it is important to have your own house in order. LinkedIn makes this very easy to do. If you sign into LinkedIn and click Edit Profile, look to the right sidebar and LinkedIn will tell you what you can do to improve your profile. Also, if you created your account a few years ago, there are new features such as the ability to add publications, projects, classes, volunteer groups, etc. Be sure
Otherwise, make sure your summary is filled in and that you write about each of your job positions. For the summary, I encourage people to tie together everything below the summary (experience, education, etc). With the summary, answer the question “What led to your current job position?”
LinkedIn Tip | Export your Profile into a PDF File
The paper resume is slowly dying but there may be instances where you either need to send someone a PDF version of your professional life or you would like to print out a copy of someone’s LinkedIn profile. You can do this by going to any profile and clicking the arrow to the left of the “Send a message” blue button to the right of the profile photo. Choose “Export to PDF” in that drop-down menu and you will have a beautifully arranged PDF file containing all of your LinkedIn information including recommendations.
LinkedIn provides an option that allows you to import your contacts from any of the major email programs like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc. Enter in your username & password for any of these platforms and you’ll have the option to see who is already on LinkedIn from your existing contact list. You can then send out a mass message requesting connections or connect person by person. More on that later.
To do this, go to Contacts > Add Connections in the main menu. That will bring up this screen:
A second item is to click the blue mail icon at the very top of your screen within LinkedIn. You will see people who have sent invitations to you. Make sure you accept the connection if you know the person.
Third, get out your piles of business cards and get out your iPhone. Download the free app in the App Store called CardMunch. This is an amazing app that connects to your LinkedIn account and allows you to simply take photos of your business cards. These cards are then transcribed and you can connect to people on LinkedIn directly from this app or add them to your iPhone contacts. Just a few years ago, card readers cost $50+ and were cumbersome to use. This one is free and connects directly to your LinkedIn profile. Another great way to connect to people you have already met.
If you don’t have an iPhone, CardMunch is coming to the Blackberry soon. If you don’t have that, do what I’ve done for the past three years and just take out your business cards and search for that person in LinkedIn.
The reason to try to connect to everyone you already know on LinkedIn is to make it easier to connect to others. The more people you connect to, the more recommendations LinkedIn will have for you for people you may know and the more ways you will see how you are connected to others who you may be trying to contact.
Once you have connected to everyone you know, it’s time to begin searching for people. LinkedIn again comes to the rescue with a great Advanced Search feature that allows you to pinpoint a person by company, industry, title, location, first name, last name, etc. Simply click “Advanced” to the right of the Search Bar on any page and you will be brought to the advanced search page.
A few weeks ago, one of my clients needed someone with a very specific skill set. I did an advanced search in LinkedIn, found someone just an hour away with that exact skill set, and arranged a meeting for all parties to meet within the week. If you are an employer looking for a new employee with a specific skill set, this is the way to go.
When you invite someone to connect with you on LinkedIn, always change the personal note and make it a little more, well, personal. LinkedIn gives you some words that say “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Don’t ever use that. Change it to add a personal touch. Either describe where you met the person or point out something you found interesting about their profile. This will give someone more reason to connect to you and potentially remember you if the meeting happened long ago. Again, don’t ever send an invitation without changing the note and making it personal.
Another great way to make connections on LinkedIn is to join relevant groups. Based upon what you share in your profile, LinkedIn provides suggestions on groups that you may like. You can find that under Groups in the main menu. This list will include groups that your connections are a part of and groups that you may like based upon your profile experience, skills, etc. Joining groups can assist in making more relevant connections for industry, product, service, or topic.
LinkedIn for Outlook
A final way to make connections is to add LinkedIn to your Microsoft Outlook installation. If you use Outlook for email, by adding this free addition, you can access your LinkedIn connections in your inbox, email your connections, and keep building your network all within Outlook. Click here for more information and to download LinkedIn for Outlook.
The content above is from a presentation given at the Metro Atlanta Chamber on Monday, February 25, 2013 by @ErikRostad