For those not already plugged into the Linked-In business networking Website, it’s definitely worth checking out. Here, you can post a personal profile, document your work history, describe your interests, and build a professional network of peers, colleagues, former and current co-workers, and more. You can also provide recommendations for others you’ve worked with, and solicit same from others who’ve worked or studied with you (each element in your work and education history can become a focus for recommendations, and the best Linked-in Profiles not only track your working life, they’re also peppered with positive recommendations from others who’ve known and worked or studied with you at each step along the way).
But it’s also important to recognize the value of the professional network you can build on Linked-In, especially when it comes to searching for freelance or consulting work, investigating a job change, or looking for a new job. You can not only get the word out discreetly to those whom you know, you can also choose to broadcast the information that you’re looking for something new (which is entirely appropriate when you’re unemployed, transitioning from school to work, or you’ve already informed your employer that you’re actively seeking another position elsewhere).
Once you establish a connection with somebody on linked in (for example, take a look at my profile), in most cases you can check out your connections’ connections as well. That is, because you’re connected to them, and the default is to share connections with connections, you can look up other people to whom your connections have connections that you may not share. Why am I telling you this? Because this provides an extraordinary opportunity to seek out potential sources of work or prospective employers without necessarily having to go completely public to do so. You can then introduce yourself to these people, and establish links of your own, to see if your plans or desires to seek new or different work may coincide with their hiring needs, or ask them if they know of anybody who might have such needs.
This is just another way to play the “six degrees of separation” game in your favor. Again, for example, I currently have 220-plus connections at Linked-In. Combined, those people have over 40,000 others in their connections lists. This provides a large and potentially fertile field of investigation to go prospecting for work or a job within. You can put this same phenomenon to work on your own behalf. Basic Linked-In membership is free (and I’ve never found it necessary to promote myself to the ranks of paid members, either, so you may not need to do that either).
Check it out!