In an era of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, PinInterest and Tumblr you might be asking if you really need to register on yet another social network site. Well, if you’re an IT professional seeking to advance your career and move into a new role, it can be a very useful tool as it is geared towards your professional life rather than for sharing your holiday photos.
If you are already familiar with LinkedIn, you can skip ahead to Part 2: How to get the most out of LinkedIn for IT professionals
Part 1 - What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows people to post a detailed work-oriented profile, much like an online CV. A LinkedIn profile can contain information on your current and previous jobs, your skillset, your career goals, your professional memberships, endorsements of your skills and recommendations/references from your peers and managers. In this way it can be seen as a fuller, more rounded version of the CV you use for job applications.
The LinkedIn Network and making Connections
Once you have created your LinkedIn profile and made it public, it can be viewed by people in your network. On LinkedIn you are connected to a “network” of people. The people who are in your network are called “connections”. In order to form a connection with someone on LinkedIn, you need to have something in common with them e.g. have worked with them before, have been a classmate of theirs or be a member of a LinkedIn group they are in. LinkedIn works in a way that encourages people with similar interests, skills and jobs to connect with each other.
There are three levels of connections available in your LinkedIn network:
- 1stlevel connections – people who are connected to you directly
- 2ndlevel connections – people who are not connected to you but who are 1st level connections of your 1stlevel connections
- 3rdlevel connections - people who are not connected to you but who are 2nd level connections of your 1stor 2ndlevel connections
You will be able to view the profiles of your 1stand 2ndconnections but depending on your account, your view of 3rdlevel connections may be restricted in some way and you may not be able to invite them to connect directly with you if you are using the basic, free LinkedIn account.
Once you have formed a connection with someone on LinkedIn, you can send each other messages, introduce each other to your 1stlevel connections, endorse your skills or write recommendations/references and read each other's posts.
The LinkedIn Newsfeed
Once you have created your LinkedIn profile you may tweak it from time to time but you probably won’t look at it too often. When you log in to LinkedIn, your newsfeed is displayed. This includes all posts your connections have made, for example, web articles, personal news updates, company news items etc. The newsfeed also displays alerts about changes your connections have made to their profiles e.g. new skills, new jobs, new connections they have made. You can comment on their posts and share them with your own connections.
Groups in LinkedIn allow people with common interests to make contact, have discussions, post event notices and post job ads. Some groups are very niche in nature and have just 30 or 40 members but other international groups can have tens of thousands of members. You can invite members of a group to connect to you on LinkedIn and it is a great way of extending your network of IT professionals.
Should I pay for a Premium LinkedIn Account
For most people the basic free LinkedIn account is adequate. You get the same basic features and search facility on all accounts. The main difference is that those using paid accounts get to see more profiles in their search results and can view the profiles of and connect to people who are 3rd-level connections. Joining groups that are relevant to your career and interests and connecting with group members is a great way to extend your own network of connections. LinkedIn offers a Jobseeker account for a monthly fee. Among other things, it includes an optional Jobseeker Badge which is displayed next to your name to indicate that you are currently looking for employment.