For this week’s NextGen Leadership post, we put together a list of four things you can do today to improve your LinkedIn profile and to ensure that you are getting the most out of what the platform has to offer.
#1: Join Groups. There are nearly 2 million groups to join on LinkedIn that can help you grow your professional and personal interest networks. These groups provide you with a common point of interest when reaching out to people on the platform while also keeping you up to date with information on the topic of interest. By joining the best groups in your field of interest, you are able to access and engage in discussions with people across the field. But how do you choose the best groups for you with so many options? Check out these posts on the best millennial and IT groups you can join on LinkedIn.
#2: Make New Connections. Networking is hard, but LinkedIn is not the platform to be shy on. Even if you are an introverted person, take advantage of what the site has to offer and reach out to people you know, or want to know in order to grow your professional network. Scrolling through the “people you may know” page is a good start to finding new connections. Whether it’s fellow alumni, former colleagues, or simply someone working in a field that you are interested in, it can’t hurt to add anyone that could help make your professional network more robust. You never know what opportunities a professional connection can open up and the worst that can happen is someone says no or does not respond to your connection request.
#3: Send the Right Messages. Now that you have connections across companies and your alumni network, you can start reaching out for more information about certain positions, organizations or people. Your message should include how you are connected to the person, and your request. The request should be something like information about their field, a coffee date, or an informational interview. Don’t ask for a job in this message—use messaging on LinkedIn to build stronger ties in your network and learn more about something you are interested in.
Using LinkedIn to contact people in your network is a key tool in your professional development arsenal. However, be sure to make your messages relatively short and concise. While people are usually open to a brief discussion, nobody has time to read a several paragraphs long message. Establish a connection and your request quickly.
#4: Find Your Next Job. While many think you can only find private sector jobs on LinkedIn, more and more government agencies are searching for talent on the platform. LinkedIn’s job search function is unique because it combines the convenience of a job listing site with the personalized aspect of a professional network. When you first start your search, use broad terms related to your job area. Terms like public affairs, policy, international relations, and government can help narrow down open positions based on what field you are looking for a job in.
After a basic search, you can use the advanced search to narrow down results by location, job title, and experience level. One thing to keep in mind when you are narrowing down experience level is to not be limited by the number of years of experience a company needs in a potential candidate. Of course, if you are entry level, you probably will not be considered for a position requiring 10+ years. However, it doesn’t hurt to apply to a position you may be 1-3 years underqualified for if you can make up for it with the experience that you do have. Additionally, entry-level job seekers should be aware that any substantive internships they have held count towards your work experience.