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LinkedIn is a great resource for all working professionals – whether you are seeking a new job, looking to get promoted, or are simply expanding your network. But as soon as you complete your profile, the next question I always get is… “But what do I actually do on LinkedIn?”

Social media is not a science, regardless of how many people want you to pay them to teach you how to apply it as such. There are pieces of the puzzle that help you get the most of out social media, but it’s never a one-size-fits-all.

Ways to Use LinkedIn to Get A Job

If you are looking for a job, you want your profile to be very professional looking, accurate and up to date. I have reviewed several best practices, so ensure that those basics are taken care of. In addition, your profile needs to be keyword rich. In other words, use descriptor words that explain your experience and would attract potential job hunters. Some people get lazy and put a list of key skills in their summary, but I would advise adding your core strengths there and work in the rest of the keywords throughout the description of your experience. LinkedIn allows paid subscribers and recruiters to do a keyword search to find potential candidates – the strongest place it pulls from is your headline and current job title, then followed by the rest of your profile. So focus accordingly.

Now that your keywords are inputted, you need to be interacting on LinkedIn. It’s not supposed to be as all-consuming as a personal social media site, but you do have to interact to build stronger networks and establish yourself as a subject matter expert. The easiest way to do this is to join some groups that are meaningful to you. Do not join a group just to add a badge or expand your reach in theory – you need to start posting, adding updates, asking questions, and become a part of the group’s community. Don’t be spammy… simply use the groups as they are meant to be used – as a place for like-minded people to connect and interact and share best practices. I can’t tell you the number of offline friends and colleagues I have made through online LinkedIn groups because they asked a question, I knew the answer… and vice versa. It’s a powerful tool to get your name and personal brand out there while also showing your expertise. And as a side bonus, many groups have their own job boards that are not found on LinkedIn – so it could be another resource to find your next job.

Share and like updates… I know it doesn’t feel as organic as it does on Facebook, but people post updates and share ideas, new roles, articles that pop-up in your news summary. If you found it valuable, or if you think your network will find it valuable, then share and like away! It will put your name on your contacts radar (in a good way), and it will also help share information to interested people. LinkedIn can be so much more than just a place to “add work-related connections,” and if you are a part of the community and exchanging thoughts and ideas, you will make an even bigger impact.

Expand your network, but do it purposely. I know people who are scared to network on LinkedIn because they don’t feel as though they can invite a cold contact… and others who feel exactly the opposite way and “collect people.” You don’t want to be on either end of the spectrum. Instead, you should seek out connections that make sense to your career and where you are headed. If that’s an HR contact at a company that you would love to work at, then ask to connect. Be sure to add a personalized message to the invite – why you want to connect, or something else along those lines. People are used to strangers asking to connect with them – it’s not as awkward as a cold call, promise. But make it as personal as possible so that the person reads your invite request and remembers who you are. Having a network that you can leverage when you need to, is more important than being in the 500+ club of insignificant peeps.

LinkedIn can be used for many other uses… more to come on that. πŸ™‚