LinkedIn is a professional networking platform where you can create a profile with your work history, current employment, education, and organization involvements. You can get colleagues, friends, and co-workers to recommend you. You can share the books that you are reading and even update your status with a work-related topic ("Excited to teach Psychology 101: The Brain for spring quarter!").
In the article, "How to turn LinkedIn into a relationship filter," Dave Gowel describes how to use LinkedIn to connect with individuals who will help you find and get jobs. Gowel recommends building strong first-degree relationships (the people who you are directly connected to) because these people can refer you to second- and third-degree relationships.
Dave Gowel also provides five key tips for LinkedIn (5 Tricks from a LinkedIn Jedi):
- Don't be a "Johnny Milker"
- Update, update, and update again
- Don't run through walls to make connections
- Don't accept any old schmo
- Search is the best tool on the Internet
LinkedIn is like any other networking tool – you need to both give and receive. Don't just use LinkedIn when you need a new job or advice. Log in to see what others are doing, respond, and share advice and resources. Keep your profile up-to-date and share status updates. Connect with others who will help you and who you can provide help to. If you do not know an individual who wants to connect, then consider whether you will be able to help him or her before adding them to your network.
For more networking tips, read "The Keys to Successful Networking."