Becoming a LinkedIn Black Belt – Part One (The Basics of Being Found)

Once you’ve got a basic LinkedIn profile (which includes your professional history, education and an attractive picture), have added your immediate contacts and joined a few relevant groups, you’re ready to kick your profile up a notch!

Getting Discovered

LinkedIn helps you increase your career prospects by allowing you to:

  • Search for jobs in your area (which is self-explanatory, and helpful if you are actively searching); and
  • Be discovered by recruiters and hiring managers for jobs that you are perfect for (which is extremely helpful whether you are actively searching or not).

According to some of the latest LinkedIn statistics, 93% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to search for and research candidates.  Just think – if no one can find you, you may be missing out on being considered for your dream job!

The beauty of being found is that it’s a hyper-efficient way to job search – imagine that instead of pouring through hundreds of job descriptions, recruiters and hiring managers are actively approaching you with opportunities.

To ensure the right people find you, there’s some initial leg-work to be done upfront, but the potential upside makes the effort well worth it.  The next 2 blog posts will focus on things you can do to increase your chances of being discovered.

Step 1: A Public Profile

The first step in getting found is making sure your profile is public. To ensure this is the case, log into LinkedIn and click on the “Profile” tab.

Click on the grey “Edit” button to the right of your picture and select “Manage public profile settings.” In the “Customize Your Public Profile” column on the right side of the page, under “Profile Content,” select “Make my public profile visible to everyone” and you’re good to go.  Done – whew!

Step 2: Cultivate Your Network

Now that you’ve joined a few groups and are connected to your immediate contacts, you can start growing your network even further. Why is this important?

Unless you have a premium account, your LinkedIn universe is limited to 3 degrees of separation. This may seem extensive at first, but consider the total number of people on LinkedIn (over 270 million)… The more connected you are, the more likely and sooner you’ll be showing up in hiring manager/recruiter searches.

The following tips will help you strategically cultivate your network:

First, Some Relevant Metrics

To assess your network, go to your LinkedIn Home page and look in the bottom right hand corner for “Your LinkedIn Network.” You’ll see your current number of connections as well as the total number of professionals in your network. Your goal should be to get that total number into the multi-millions.

You can also assess your “find-ability” by seeing how many times your profile has been viewed over a specific period of time. Ideally, you want your profile viewed several times a day by different people (so if your profile’s been viewed 9 times in the last 15 days, don’t feel bad! There’s some room for improvement, and that’s why you’re reading this!).

All Contacts Aren’t Created Equal

LinkedIn limits the total number of connection requests to 3000 per account. That may sound like a lot, but this is over an entire lifetime of an account. Thus, you need to use your connection requests strategically. Keep in mind that the more connected your connections are, the larger your total network.

In the upper right hand corner of your LinkedIn Home page is the “People You May Know” section.  These suggestions are based on your experience and your current connections, which is why it’s helpful to have a basic profile before you start doing this. Sort through this list and only send connection requests to people who:

  • You actually know and who are likely to accept your request because you’ve worked together, or had some other significant interaction. There’s nothing worse than a connection request from a total stranger who just appears to want to sell you something. Let’s not be “that guy.”
  • Are likely to be connected to people you also want to be connected to. Request to connect to those people in your peripheral circle who you know are great connectors. Add of a few of those folks and watch your total network grow exponentially.In addition, consider connecting with people from early in your career. For example, if you were one of the initial employees at a start-up years ago, you may have worked with the company’s founding team who’ve since gone on to lead other companies. If it’s been years since you’ve been in touch, you may also be surprised where folks have ended up.  That bright intern you worked with years ago may be CEO of a cool start-up now.
  • Add geographic and industry diversity to your network. Even if you know you’re never going to move, it makes sense in this day and age of global markets to purposely add folks who are outside your geographic area and industry (including those outside your functional area – i.e. add engineers if you’re a lawyer), keeping in mind the above points. You’ll also be a mutually attractive target for them to increase the scope of their networks.

Next Up

Our next post will discuss sprucing up your profile content to increase the likelihood of being found by the right folks.