Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Boost your career in 2009 with LinkedIn

In my post on Looking for a ‘good’ green job I promised to write about using LinkedIn. has become the online business network of choice for many. It allows you to create an online profile and make it as visible as you wish. Apart from anything else it is a great place to keep contact details for all the key players in your network. You never know when you might leave that battered old filo-fax in the back of a taxi.

You might be asking “Why do I need a LinkedIn Profile?”

Are you legitimate? - If you call someone with a business proposition, they may well look you up on LinkedIn to find out more about you. It certainly happens a lot here at EcoSearch when we are looking for service providers to partner with.
Take a look at my LinkedIn profile and you will see how long I have been working at EcoSearch, what other experience I have and my educational background, as well as a whole wealth of other information.
Not only does it allow you to be found by those you already know, but people with potential opportunities can find you just by doing a search.

Growing your career – LinkedIn is now widely used by head hunters to identify individuals with the right profile to match senior level opportunities with companies they represent. Whilst being on LinkedIn will not guarantee that you will be approached by a head hunter, it will increase your chances of being noticed by people who can help you to progress your career at the right time for you.

Strengthening a connection - If you meet someone at an industry event or even on the train and they work in your niche, it can be easy to let that meeting be forgotten. Down the line potential opportunities for collaboration can be lost. If however you have a philosophy of connecting to everyone you meet on LinkedIn, you never lose their business card, or forget their name or which company they represent.
LinkedIn is reaching the point where the majority of savvy business people are signed up. There is no excuse for not using it to keep up to date with and to grow your network.

Wider networking - LinkedIn groups (discussion forums about a specific topic) have undergone a lot of change recently. Despite the number of groups you can join being capped at 50; I think most of these changes have been for the better. You can now search for relevant groups, start discussions and share ideas without leaving the site. This is a great way to interact with likeminded folks that you are not connected to. Often these can lead you to an external networking website with previously untapped potential.

Creating your profile

LinkedIn has acquired many more features recently so creating your profile may seem a little more daunting than it would have done six months ago. Let me assure you though, the new features make for a much more useful experience. Having a profile is worth the time investment.
Go along and hit the sign up button, the site is very user friendly and talks you through creating your profile. You can include as much or as little information about yourself as you like.

I would encourage you to think about a few key words that should be included in your profile. Try to include your job title (and any other ways your function might be described) as well as the sector you work in. If somebody is searching for a person like you, what keywords might they type into a search box?

Once you have a profile, start looking for people you know (you will probably be surprised by how many people are already there). Invite them to connect, and watch your network grow. Once you have a small network of contacts, you will have a pool to search and find useful folks that work in your field.

From there you can go on to join groups, ask questions or just network with your new community.

For great information straight from LinkedIn, check out their article Start 2009 Strong with LinkedIn. Let me know how you get on creating your profile and any benefits that come of it.

By Katharine Robinson
Research Associate at EcoSearch

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