I was combing through my connections on LinkedIn recently when I noticed a former colleague’s job title had changed.
Since I always tell my nurse entrepreneur clients that they should never stop networking, I took my own advice and fired off a congratulatory email.
My contact wrote back and said she was excited about the new position. I did what any good connector would do and suggested we meet for ‘virtual coffee’ using my web meeting platform.
We met and in the process of getting caught up, I explained my efforts to expand my consulting business by offering blog coaching services to nurse entrepreneurs and healthcare businesses. That conversation turned into a freelance job for me!
Traditionally, applying for a job meant making a cover letter and resume. In today’s digital age, this is fast becoming almost obsolete. Robert Hellmann, author of Advanced LinkedIn for Your Job Search, Business & Career, relates that one of the most important job search trends is what he calls “the continuous job search.”
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Unemployed people should maximize their social media use, he says, but the rest of us shouldn’t be slackers if we want to make sure we don’t miss out on opportunities.
“It’s a lot of work,” Hellmann writes, “but you really have to keep your network active and constantly develop and expand it.”
Keeping track of your career used to be done privately in a file at home.
Today, social media platforms like LinkedIn make it possible to keep track of your career and accomplishments in a systematic way AND share it publicly. This is helpful for four reasons:
- LinkedIn provides a centralized place for regularly recording what you have accomplished.
- It’s a tool to share in real time what you have done and allows others to view your experience in a multi-media friendly platform. Think articles, blogs, video interviews, poster presentations.
- Showcasing your experience can lead to new career opportunities from recruiters, or others in your professional network.
- In today’s gig economy, having a well-written LinkedIn profile is a great tool to transition your career to freelance or consulting work.
What else should we all be doing to maximize LinkedIn’s powers?
Hellmann suggests these four tips:
1. Keep up with your network. When was the last time you went through all of your LinkedIn connections and figured out who had changed or lost jobs, started a new business or written new material? Simply clicking through your list will clue you into all sorts of news and give you the opportunity to reach out to folks with whom you’ve been out of touch. It takes a moment to send out a quick note of congratulations. Just. Do. It.
2. Post updates. Did you get a new job? Has YOUR title changed? Did you switch departments? Did you see a great, relevant article? Sharing updates helps those in your network reach out to you.
3. When someone you don’t know sends you an invitation to connect, hit “reply.” That will bring you to a return email with the sender’s address. Rather than accepting the invite through LinkedIn, it’s better to send a query.
Here’s what I use: “Hi X, I appreciate your invite to connect! As I like to know all the people in my LinkedIn first-degree network, I’m curious how you came across my profile and/or why you decided to reach out.”
After all, it’s YOUR professional network. Fill it with quality connections!
4. Publish on LinkedIn. This can take effort but I am a HUGE champion of publishing posts in your field of expertise on LinkedIn. This helps establish yourself as a thought leader. It can be especially helpful for job hunting if you have gaps in your résumé or you’re trying to change fields. It’s also a great way to connect with new people! My favorite resource? Check out Hubspot’s How to Publish on LinkedIn: A Beginners Guide
When LinkedIn introduced this feature in early 2014, I decided I would try it out for fun. The second post I uploaded was picked up as a feature in the Careers section of LinkedIn. (Reposted here: Nurses: 4 Ways to Secure Your Place at the Table )
Imagine my amazement when my phone notifications started blowing up! The post was viewed 750 times in 24 hours. My one claim to viral fame. LOL Because of that post, I connected with several new people, two of whom became key social media clients!
Yes, it’s important that we not spend ALL our time online. However, if you want to ramp up your thought leadership or transitioning to a consulting career, a day on LinkedIn can be a day well spent, especially if you use it to research the profiles of people you want to work with, make connections with them, and set up meetings.
If you have a job, but take to heart Hellmann’s advice that you should always be looking, spend 15-20 minutes three times a week reviewing your connections, commenting on updates or posts and reaching out for virtual meetings.
Do you have a LinkedIn success story? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to feature your experience in an upcoming blog post!
Read More of my posts on LinkedIn: