With people spending 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook*, it's the newest way to stay in touch but not the best when it comes to networking for a job.
According to John Hill, director of Alumni Career services at Michigan State University (MSU), in a recent networking seminar at Ford Field in Detroit; "It's more of a social bar than where business happens." He also equated Twitter to a water cooler where people can relate and listen to what is happening within their interest areas but probably will not link directly to a career.
So what should you use if you are looking to land that next job? The recent answer seems to be LinkedIn. New advancements in this social networking web site has let people move past researching a company. Individuals can possess the ability to research the person who is hiring within that company as well.
For those of you who don't use LinkedIn actively this may be the time to understand more about what is available to you on the site. Founded in December of 2002 and launched in May 2003 LinkedIn has begun gaining popularity in the last few years. The company knows what to expect with a CEO like Jeff Weiner (previously a Yahoo! Inc. executive) and founder Reid Hoffman who along with others were founding team members of Paypal.
With 80 million users, LinkedIn has well surpassed other business social networks including Viadeo (30 million users) and XING (9 million users). Growing at about one new member per second; about half of LinkedIn members are in the United States and 11 million are from Europe.
Users not only post their picture, job experiences, and resume; they can also link to others in and out of their fields to build further connections. "I'm not going to use the six degrees of Kevin Bacon example here because not everyone knows what I mean by that anymore," says Hill. With the capability to network instantly to current and previous coworkers and friends, anyone can see the potential leads the may develop.
What are the best ways to use LinkedIn to your full advantage? Here are five important things I learned from the networking seminar I attended last week:
1. Get your resume into the right hands
By using LinkedIn you are connecting to the people you need to communicate with directly. CEOs, marketing teams and headhunters frequent connections within LinkedIn and use them as a resource for potential hires. With 650,000 CEOs using LinkedIn it's like your personal white pages for that next step in your career.
2. Connections and retention
LinkedIn becomes your virtual Rolodex and it stays up-to-date! When someone you used to work with changes jobs or updates their information, you have that new information immediately. Plus, once you connect with previous employers you can ask them for letters of recommendation right away. Nowadays people rarely stay at one or two companies over a lifetime. Since turnover is higher than it used to be this is a great way to keep everything and everyone strait. LinkedIn allows you to concentrate on your future path rather than chasing down your previous one for a reference. Staying in touch with quick messages or receiving updates from the service, through e-mail, is also an essential part of staying in the back of future employers minds when it comes time to hire again too.
3. Know more when you go into an interview
Users can research companies and specific individuals before going into an interview. This can be more beneficial than just viewing a company's web site because you learn beyond the company's mission or products and services. Researching the people who work where you seek to join helps you learn about what kind of people mesh well within the company. You can also learn what you may have in common with the person who is interviewing you. Relatable conversation topics between you and the person who is initiating the interview can ease tension and make for a more genuine personable experience.
4. Learn about your development path
Seeing others in a career you aspire to enter can help you understand the way up the ladder. If you know what to expect, you also know what you are aiming to achieve faster. By connecting to others in a similar situation you can find out how they conquered certain difficult aspects as they ascended into their career path.
5. It's not the best/only way to make a connection
Don't discount what the Internet can do but keep in mind that face-to-face interaction is still the best way to connect with people. Phone conversations and voice interactions are your next best bet when trying to communicate effectively to land your next opportunity. The closest match to this on LinkedIn is adding a blurb about your aspirations or hobbies and keeping in touch through constant contact. It is little things like this that help you break out of a stack of resumes. Give the hiring manager a direct connection to you and you have a better chance of keeping your head above the pack.