On Wednesday I got a chance to swing by the Career Centre’s LinkedIn Workshop, the second installment of their Social Media Series, hosted by Perry Monaco, a Recruitment Product Consultant with LinkedIn. It was also probably the most useful workshops I’ve had the pleasure of attending in the last few years, and the Career Centre’s workshop page has easily become one of my favourite tabs. I am no longer (too much of) an awkward turtle with networking…at least not online anyway.
LinkedIn is the largest professional network in Canada, with 187 million members worldwide and 2 members joining per second. Canada is actually the fifth largest national network on LinkedIn (which is pretty impressive considering our population next to countries with populations like ‘Murica). The fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn also happens to be students and new graduates, and when 95% of jobs found in Canada are done through networking, it’s definitely a site you want to be on.
While I have a LinkedIn account, I haven’t really done much with it. To be honest, I found it completely overwhelming, which was ironic considering how much time I spend on Facebook & Twitter. LinkedIn, I came to learn, is a lot like being set up on a blind date, which in many cases with today’s day and age, you’d probably want to do a little google snooping beforehand. Imagine finding nothing except an oddly suspicious super pixelated picture on google images? Similarly, with an employer looking you up, a LinkedIn profile is the best way for them to find out a little more about you. This is something important to remember for generation-insta-tweet-like: your online presence should be the reflection of how you want to be portrayed to the world.
- LinkedIn is not Facebook (I realized this very quickly. Did you know there’s an option to see who has looked at your profile and vice versa? Imagine if Mark Z got creative and did that!? The horror…) The picture you choose to put on your account should reflect the kind of person looking for a job, not a probable political scandal waiting to happen circa 2020. It also means that you should probably use your real legal name. Perry advised keeping it as simple as possible in order to get rid of any obstacles an employer may have finding you.
- Get recommendations, especially since paper is so 2008 and the actual credibility of a recommendation, where profiles of who recommends you is easily accessible, and much more legitimate/not your best friend running to get the phone as your former supervisor.
- Join groups, apparently LinkedIn has somewhere around 1.2 million groups, and you can join up to 50 groups and 50 more sub groups. They should be industry specific for you, and by participating in them, it can help people and other professionals connect with you.
- Connecting with people can be anyone you want to connect with, including past professors, employees or classmates. One thing Perry pointed out –which I’m guilty of not doing- is specifying how you know the person you hope to connect with. It’ll ask you as soon as you send the invitation, don’t ignore it.
- Building your network is one of the primary features of LinkedIn, and your first-degree connections (FB equivalent of friends) are like virtual handshakes. Friends of friends are secondary contacts, but still count as part of your broader network. Eventually, you could have a network of thousands of people, but it’s important not to let it become a numbers game. Perry stressed the importance of a quality network over one full of quantity, so don’t fret about connecting with your Rogers customer service rep, local teller or milkman. The colleague from your work-study last year will probably have more fruitful resources.
Because I already had been on LinkedIn, I didn’t find it to be as much as an information overload as someone who’s never been on, although even after registering it was still a bit of a maze. Luckily, LinkedIn helps you work through it.
And, since it is November and all, and most of us are the storage warring PDF’s like it’s the Gold Rush all over again, here’s a useful LinkedIn etiquette guide from career services.
Finally, I present to you my last gift- LinkedIn’s student job posting arena, where employers can post openings for free, that have to be entry level. It’s also why it’s important that if you’re out to get connecting, you get your LinkedIn going early, because as soon as you’ve finished reading this at least 600 people have joined LinkedIn.