For those who've never made much use of LinkedIn, utilizing the site can provide the following benefits:
1. It is both simpler and easier to connect with influential people and targeted hiring managers in your field via LinkedIn than by using the telephone. Why? The telephone is more intrusive and personal and directly accesses the receiving person's time (and of course, in most cases, you're likely to get voice mail). In contrast, a linked invite can be deleted or ignored, thereby giving the recipient of the message the option of whether or not to connect with you. Those who wish to retain their privacy can refuse all such requests.
some of these people will even become friends, perhaps the most underestimated "bonus" of the networking process.
2. However in many cases, individuals within a field or discipline related to the person who initiated the invite, are often willing to accept the request to connect for the simple reason that what goes around comes around. In other words, perhaps at this time an experienced professional out of work attempts to link with someone who is thriving in a high-level management job; just a few months later, their situations could be completely reversed. Those who understand the value and importance of networking will generally welcome the opportunity to connect with people they don't know, especially if the request comes from a peer or at the very least someone who works within the same profession.
3. Linkedin offers the cheapest way possible to become part of any number of professional networks, clubs or associations in your field; in fact, many such groups are free. Usually, the only barrier to entry to join one of these groups is that the requesting person needs to be working within the organization's specific field or industry. For example, a forensic accounting group, might require the applicant to have an accounting degree, hold a CPA, or work for a public accounting firm. But not always. Many organizations also let in those interested in the field or those in other professions such as media people and bloggers, educators who teach programs related to the industry, recruiters, human resource people or those involved in charitable causes.
It's far more likely that individual's profile will appear high up in Google, Bing or other search engine harvestings of candidates who are equipped with matching skill sets required by a given employer
4. Once you become a member of a specific group, usually -- unless the individual has restricted access to his or her profile -- you can then send that individual a direct email, a privilege that would normally require a substantial investment, often more than a hundred dollars a month just to reach a few dozen individuals on LinkedIn not currently in your network.
Better yet, once connected to a targeted individual, say a hiring manager, normally -- unless the recipient is someone who has set up their account to protect the privacy of their contacts -- the requester can now explore their new contact's network. If for example, one is a marketing manager looking to reach higher-level executives within their profession, connecting with just one or two VPs may very well lead to then discovering the names, titles and current company affiliations of dozens and sometimes hundreds of others within a similar field.
5. For those that have really not done very much networking in your career, Linkedin's rules enable you to immediately become part of groups that are organic to your profile, namely places you worked at or institutions you attended. So, you may not have stayed in touch with many fellow graduates of your Alma Mater, but 15, 20 or even 30 years later, you can automatically become part of the alumni association for your college or university simply by sending a request through LinkedIn. You can do the same with former companies and employing organizations that you worked at earlier in your career. The one catch: you will need genuine roots with that organization. Someone who didn't go to Yale and has no connection whatsoever to the university will not get granted membership.
6. Perhaps the most under-appreciated aspect of LinkedIn is that once the user has established a detailed and comprehensive profile rich with keyword terms consistent with mission-critical aspects of that person's field, it's far more likely that individual's profile will appear high up in Google, Bing or other search engine harvestings of candidates who are equipped with matching skill sets required by a given employer. An environmental health and safety professional that has a background in air quality permitting would be far more likely to come up in searches for an EHS opening at an oil and gas facility or coal-fired plant than someone in the field whose background may include this function but who neglects to include mention of this specific skill in his or her profile.
So if you do set up a profile, make it as detailed and comprehensive as possible. This will make it more likely for others in your field to connect with you because, if you put substantive content in your bio, others you reach out to will view you as serious and a worthwile contact. It will also get you far more interest from recruiters, staffing professionals, HR specialists and hiring managers in your field.
Linkedin may not only lead you to your next job. It may give you something far more valuable -- a strong network of people in your field with whom you can connect and build lasting, mutually beneficial professional relationships. Along the way, some of these people will even become friends, perhaps the most underestimated "bonus" of the networking process.