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Networking Dos and Don’ts: How to Use LinkedIn to Gain Connections and Job Opportunities

If you’ve been looking for a new job, chances are that you’ve heard about the importance of networking and making professional connections. In today’s tech-savvy world, who you know is just as important as what your skills are. If you connect with like-minded individuals who are in the same field as you, you’ll drastically improve your chances of finding a great job that you enjoy. Unfortunately, many new college graduates and even veteran job-seekers aren’t sure how to start networking with others. LinkedIn offers a powerful, effective way to meet other professionals in your field. You just have to know how to use it correctly.

First off, fill out your profile completely. Make sure you choose a professional head shot for your profile image. The picture should clearly show your face without looking like a “selfie.” Also, note any special skills that you have. Potential employers and recruiters will look at your profile, so demonstrating your skills is a “must.” With LinkedIn, you can easily display your achievements, awards, and publications, too. Always include links to your publications so that people can take a look at what you’ve done without having to do a lot of searching. Remember that the easier you make finding information your qualifications, the more likely you are to get a job.

After your profile is complete, you’ll start adding connections. Begin with people that you know. LinkedIn makes it easy to import contacts from your email account. Add everyone you know, even if you haven’t worked with them directly. Friends and family members are fine to add to your contact list. While it may take people a few days to respond to your request, you’ll see that your contact list quickly begins to grow. Once you have a few contacts you know, you’ll be ready to start expanding your network.

LinkedIn offers a number of interest and job-related groups. Join them! Pick a few groups that interest you and that are related to your field. Once you join, you’ll have the chance to take a look at what other people in the group are talking about and what topics are trending. Participate in discussions on a regular basis. Include meaningful links when appropriate. You can also add group members to your contact list. Remember that if someone accepts your request to connect, you should always send a short email to say “thank you.”

Finally, participate in conversations that appear on your news feed. Even if you aren’t actively applying for jobs, responding to links, articles, and comments that your connections share can get you noticed on LinkedIn. Many companies and individuals alike choose to use LinkedIn as a way to meet new people and to explore new ideas, so participating in trending conversations can be an effective way to start promoting yourself as a potential employee. You can also start your own conversations as frequently as you like. Just remember to always post something of value so that your connections don’t view you as a spammer.

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