Can online networking work for you?
You may have heard it said: 80% of job openings are unpublicized.
Have you tapped-in to that bursting keg of opportunity? Maybe you have mingled at a social function, or shook hands at a career fair. Nothing wrong with either of those.
If you haven’t yet seen the results that you want, consider acquiring a few hundred good contacts through LinkedIn.com.
LinkedIn is known as “the social network for work professionals”, but jacket and tie are not required. You’ll find that not all members wear a pocket-protector or carry a briefcase. Also, most of LinkedIn’s 84 million registered U.S. members pay nothing. It is the 7th most popular website in the U.S..
You can quickly build a network of 100 contacts. Sounds good? Mashable.com has great instructions for getting started. It explains how to set up a profile, and to participate in discussions much as you do on FaceBook and blogs.
Groups: the best tool to build a network
To bring your network to 500 contacts or more, the key is to belong to groups. There are over 1.9 million of them, but fortunately a simple “search groups” function helps you find the ones you wish to join. Admission may not be automatic. Many groups are moderated, with the moderator approving all membership requests. Still, if your LinkedIn profile has something relevant, you are likely to receive a welcoming email within a few days.
The largest group is Job Openings, Job Leads and Job Connections! It has 1,599,303 members. Check through the examples below for some idea of the range of group interests, professions, and locales.
|GROUP NAME||TYPE||# OF MEMBERS|
|Real Estate Networking Group||Profession
(21,000 Real Estate groups)
|Finish Carpenters of America||Profession||606|
|Semi Truck Drivers||Profession||262|
|Learning, Education and Training Professionals||Profession
(37,000 Educator groups)
|America’s Best Bartenders||Profession
(76 Bartender groups)
|Let’s Talk Cake!!!||Interest||3,931|
(170 Ice Cream groups)
|John Deere Career Network||Company||12,513|
|Professional Carpet/Upholstery Cleaning||Profession||817|
|Des Moines, Iowa Network||Local Networking||11,126|
|Ozarks Construction Referral||Profession/Local Networking||502|
That’s just a sampling of the 1.9 million groups.
How to add Contacts
Once you have been admitted to a group, you can browse the membership roster and, potentially, expand your network.
- In LinkedIn, select “Groups” from the “Interests” menu.
- Choose the option for “Members”. This will bring up the name and current job title of each member. If the job title is “Recruiter” or “Human Resources Manager” that person could be a good future connection for a job hunter.
- Below the names and job titles, you are likely to find options to “Follow”, “See activity”, “Send message”, and “Connect”. If you choose the “Connect” option, an on-screen box will ask how you know this person. One of the answers is “Groups”.
- When you click the “Groups” option, the names of the groups you both belong to will be listed. It also gives you to write a personal note. Below that, one click will send the invitation.
- In a day or two (sometimes sooner), you are likely to receive an email which announces that you have a new connection. If you have contacted many group members, you may find several of those messages in your email in-box.
LinkedIn has another essential function for job hunters: the ability to download the names, companies, job titles, and email addresses of contacts. A well-worded, friendly inquiry with resume attached is unlikely to be regarded as junk email.