… In other words, connections of connections… friends of friends... In the late 60’s Mark Granovetter became famous for uncovering the strength of weak ties in job searches. Basically, your friends of friends are going to be more helpful than your friends when job searching. LinkedIn came along in 2003 and has made this theory tangible through its ability to show users a virtual network, getting from A to C through connections.
We recently attended a talk by John Hill, LinkedIn’s Higher Ed Evangelist. A sweater vest and hoodie wearing alumni career services professional turned LinkedIn devotee. In short, he gets it. He understands the power of alumni networks and the need to put those networks to work. Here are just a few of his insights:
- Over 280 million professionals are on LinkedIn. There are 844,000 current CEO’s on LinkedIn.
- It’s all about a quality relational network not a quantity relational network. This isn’t a popularity contest and he with the most connections wins.
- Your resume is currently your job search currency. John estimates that in 5-10 years your personal brand and online footprint will become that currency.
- Companies are beginning to slot people for interviews that didn’t even apply for the job based on their online professional brand.
- Recruiters are pushing that LinkedIn become a normalized piece of the job search process and portfolio. They are using LinkedIn to source talent. Now more than ever, NOT having a LinkedIn profile is a red flag for employers.
The bottom line, he says, is that people need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do. Here are a few of our key insights that may help you better capitalize on the power of LinkedIn:
1. Use Endorsements. Just maybe for a different purpose. We’ve all seen the LinkedIn “endorsements” pop up in our inbox. There have been over 1 BILLION endorsements made on LinkedIn since it was rolled out. Sometimes (maybe oftentimes) these endorsements are from connections that we haven’t even worked with directly. So, why do they matter? They matter because they tell you (and others) about your personal/professional brand – what you are known for.
2.The Alumni Network – There are over 76,000 Georgetown alumni and students on LinkedIn. Click on “Network” and then “Find Alumni.” What you will see is a quick and easy way to visualize where alumni are, in what companies, and in what fields. Simply click on one or more of the bars to drill deeper and reset the parameters. This also allows you to view a cross comparative list of schools who are similar to Georgetown in terms of career outcome. Take that, Harvard! Note: You can change the school visual on the right to toggle between institutions you have attended.
3. Georgetown Alumni Group – There are over 24,000 alumni in the Georgetown University Alumni Group on LinkedIn. Join the conversation, connect with alumni, start a discussion.
4. Follow Georgetown University Page – Follow the official Georgetown University page for university announcements, notable alumni and influencers, and use an aggregator for Georgetown groups on LinkedIn.
5. Follow Company Pages. Follow company pages to learn about company happenings and to do interview research. See your connections who work for, or worked for, that company. Note: sometimes people who worked at the company previously are better able to give you a sense of the company. They no longer have a dog in the fight, as John Hill noted.
6. Leverage Insights. LinkedIn has made a huge effort to surface insights to allow you to stay better connected to those in your network. New jobs, work anniversaries, moves, birthdays, and connections mentioned in the news are now push out to you in your profile and via email. It’s all about relationship building and these are “prompts” for you to connect or reconnect with those in your network. Use them.
7. Follow Industry Groups. Learn about industry trends, buzz, and discussions. Don’t be an aggressive joiner though. Ask for advice, not jobs. Listen first. Post later.
8. Take a Cold Call to a Warm Call. Both the insights provided by LinkedIn (see #6) and the interests section, couple with the connection of Georgetown can quickly take a cold call to a warm call (Thank you, John Hill, for that catchy phrase). While LinkedIn can help manage your contacts, remember, sometimes to connect effectively the conversation happens offline (via phone or in-person).
7. Compile Your Treasury. LinkedIn now allows you to upload powerpoint presentations, links to your blog, videos, etc, effectively creating a portfolio of your work. Use it!
8. Use It, Students! LinkedIn has added student verticals to help make your profile robust. You can now include projects, languages spoken, publications, and organizations to your profile. Just because you are a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a LinkedIn profile. It’s a red flag if you don’t. You can also rearrange the blocks in your profile to re-order based on importance. Thanks, LinkedIn!
9. Track Your Outreach. You can use LinkedIn not only as a connection tool but a relationship management tool if you leverage the “notes” section for each of your contacts to track correspondence, etc.
So, tap into the power of the hidden job market by making strategic, quality, connections through relationship building. Tap into the power of your network and your network’s network. And do it now. People need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do. Thank you, John Hill!