LinkedIn Basics

LinkedIn is the world’s largest business networking website and very useful to find business contacts in your field of interest.  If you don’t already have a LinkedIn profile, create one right immediately, and connect with friends and acquaintances.

Gone are the days where just being on LinkedIn was all you needed to succeed.

Millions of people are using LinkedIn to find jobs, so you have to make yourself stand out positively. If you want to use LinkedIn to succeed in your job search, you have to use it well.  Your strategy for this should be to create an appealing profile and to make your profile more visible to people . . . PLUS build your network before you need it!

If you look at the picture on the next page, you will see several easy to implement changes and tweaks you can make on your page.

Even if you haven’t built your network before you need it, don’t worry. It doesn’t take long to connect with people you know and ample time to build relationships with people who can help you or want to find you.


Let’s start with the profile. Don’t just cut and paste your resume onto LinkedIn. Think of it this way. If you are with a group of office colleagues and someone walks up to the group and drops off his resume, you won’t take that seriously will you? The point of using social media is to start a conversation that creates a favorable impression of you; it is not a soapbox.

Next, describe yourself in detail. Use adjectives and active verbs to describe yourself. Avoid terms like “Handled creative team projects”. Instead, use terms like “Managed creative projects”. Add a tagline to your profile. It is the first thing that people see when they visit your profile. An example of a good tagline is “MBA with 7 years of Marketing Experience”. It is short but it tells the viewer three important things about you. The first is that you have a Master’s degree, the second that you’re in marketing and the third is that you are experienced.

List your skills and experience in your profile. Next, add links to your social networking pages.  Finally, integrate your blog with LinkedIn, so that whenever you have a new post, it updates your profile.

Put your email address in your profile as part of your name. This will help make it easier for you to be contacted because people won’t use their connection requests to contact you.

One final tip about writing your profile– Think like a search engine and optimize your profile so that someone who is trying to find someone with your experience can find you easily.

Adding to your network:

After your profile has been created, start to add to your network. Start with relationships that are close to you and then branch out. LinkedIn has the capability of scanning your email and picking out the email addresses of all your contacts. Then, it scans its own database to see if people with those email addresses are members of LinkedIn. You can then invite them to join your network.

Also, look for people who list themselves as a “LION.” Being a LION means that you are a LinkedIn Open Networker and will accept connection requests from anyone. These people offer themselves as great connectors thus helpful with introductions. LIONs often have thousands and thousands of first-level connections that lead to tens of thousands of second-level connections and several million total connections all told. These may be people who are in varying positions professionally that may or may not be able to connect you . . . but you just need one!

Once you start building your network, give people recommendations and politely and privately ask them to reciprocate if they feel like it. Recommendations are like online references for people that appear on their LinkedIn page. Recommendations always make a profile look good.  Do not try to force or pressure someone to write one for you . . . if you do, they may only write something luke warm and that will not help you.


Being found:

The key to any job search is being discovered. You have to be able to stand out in a crowd so that the right people know who you are and try to contact you. While it may take some time to set up and achieve this, in the long run, you will actually save more time with this approach.

Start with going to the LinkedIn Answers section.

Look up topics that are related to your areas of interest and expertise. Pick out a few questions that you feel you can answer well and answer them. This will get you exposure and portray you as someone competent in that subject matter.

The next thing to do is to join different groups on LinkedIn. Groups are a fabulous networking tool and make you visible in front of a smaller group of people, thereby reducing the competition that you have to deal with. Some of the different groups you can join are:

  • Groups of professionals in your area of expertise
  • Groups of school and college alumni
  • A Fraternity, Sorority, or service organization
  • Interest related groups
  • Groups based on your geographical area
  • Job search groups
  • Groups in your geographic area

After joining a group, participate in discussions. DO NOT ask for a job or post your resume there unless it is a group that asks for you to do so.  If you do, your messages may be moderated (deleted); you may get thrown out of the group and receive a bad name sooner than it took you to set yourself up in these groups, to begin with. Instead, start conversations, listen to others, and add value. Feel free to ask questions.

Don’t make silly remarks.  Never say anything negative about any person or company and always be respectful. The point is for people to get to know you, get to like you, and more importantly, start to respect you out of which they create a positive impression or halo around you.

If you don’t have respect and popularity, you won’t find out about job opportunities from your connections. However, if people get to know you and like you to the point where they feel they have a personal connection with you, they will bend over backward to help you out and tell you about opportunities.

Be a Resource

Are you aware of any positions that may not be suited to you but a friend of yours may be perfect for? Do you have access to any resources or information that may be useful to your network? If you have such resources, make it known.

Today, if you help someone get a job, it just creates one more networking opportunity for you in the future. If you send people information that they are looking for, they won’t hesitate to forward your resume to their network. Be a resource for your network so that they appreciate you and feel the need to respond to you positively.

LinkedIn and Twitter:

You can post LinkedIn status updates to Twitter once you connect your accounts. Do it. It will save time.

Smart networking

Let’s say you want an introduction to a hiring manager at Microsoft named Raj Raghu (a made up name; please do not waste time trying to find someone by this name; any similarity between this name and a real person is an accident). Raj has a lot of pull and is trying to hire someone. Unfortunately, you don’t know him, so the odds of him accepting you as a friend are probably low. You need to look into your network to see if you know someone who can introduce you to Raj.

Upon reviewing the network, you realize that your friend Francis knows a person called Chris who is friends with Raj Raghu.  Now, you can use the power of LinkedIn to get in touch with Raj. Write a polite letter to your friend, Francis asking for an introduction to Chris who can then introduce you to Raj Raghu. Friends often do favors for other friends, especially those in need. So Francis will forward your email to Chris. Chris doesn’t know you and would probably hesitate to forward your email. However, he knows Francis and trusts him. So, he forwards your email on to Raj. He, in turn, accepts your introduction and lets you join his network because he got the introduction from Chris. This in a nutshell is how you can use LinkedIn to get in touch with anyone.

It is also the prime reason you need to grow your network so that you can create such opportunities for yourself and reciprocate for others.  You see, the larger your network, the more access points you have to information . . .  and the more you can use LinkedIn.

For example, one of my favorite features is in the Advanced Features area near the search box. If, for example, you find an available position on craigslist or in a newspaper, find out if there is someone in your network who already works for the company and contact them or send a connection request for someone in your network for an introduction  (use the “Send Message” on their page) and whether they will introduce you or forward your resume.

After all, if you were a hiring manager, who would you pay attention to (Here are the choices):

  1. A person you report to (yes)
  2. A peer (yes)
  3. Someone who reports to you (yes)
  4. Someone who used to report to you (yes/maybe)
  5. Someone who used to report to you who is now with another firm (yes/maybe)
  6. Human Resources (yes/maybe)
  7. A resume that arrived “from outer space” with no recommendations (least likely)

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2010, 2012, 2020 



JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2000 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter


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