I love LinkedIn! As a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and College/Career Transition Strategist, I think LinkedIn is THE tool for job seekers and those who take a proactive approach to their career growth.

Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to present on Leveraging LinkedIn at Career Wardrobe in Philadelphia. The small group of engaged and eager job seekers was so impressive. These women were ready to take their game to the next level, and they were enthusiastic about the possibilities LinkedIn had to offer for networking and career advancement.

So in honor of these incredibly motivated women (who I know are going to take the job search by storm), I give you...

Four Ways to Leverage LinkedIn to Enhance Your Network & Advance Your Career:

1) Marketing - Articulate YOUR Brand

  • Picture - Set yourself up with a professional (and smiling!) profile picture to demonstrate that you are confident and approachable.
  • Headline - Go beyond LinkedIn's default "Title - Company." Who you are as a professional (your brand) isn't defined by your current position and employer.
  • Profile - Make sure your profile gives the reader a clear sense of your professional values, your core strengths and contributions, and your goals.

2) Networking - Connect, Foster and Expand YOUR Network!

  • Connections - Stay connected with current and former classmates, colleagues, neighbors, vendors, etc. Foster those relationships, and expand your network following events and throughout your career.
  • Groups - Join and engage in groups relevant to your location, profession, industry, interests, etc.
  • School/Alumni Network - Use LinkedIn to connect with fellow alumni in your field.
  • Follow companies and organizations you like, as well as industry/thought leaders who inspire you. Then engage with them!

3) Job Search - Discover and Create YOUR Opportunity!

  • Leverage your network - Let people know what your goals are so they can help you get there! Use LinkedIn to conduct informational interviews and to learn from connections in positions or organizations that you are interested in. (Be sure to also ask how you can help them!)
  • Groups - Participate in industry related and job seeker groups and forums.
  • Job Search Tool & Alerts - LinkedIn has a robust job listing and search feature. Use it! Then set alerts so you automatically get updates when new opportunities post.
  • Company Pages - Now that you are following your favorite companies, be sure to check their page to see what new jobs and opportunities are available.

4) Mastering the Interview - Do YOUR Homework!

  • Company Pages - Companies spend valuable time and resources to produce and disseminate information because they want you to know about their mission, priorities, latest news/developments, etc. Take the time to read it, and consider where you can add value to their efforts.
  • Engage Your Network - Who do you know that can share insight into the company, culture, position? Have any of your connections held a similar position elsewhere to help you understand day-to-day functions, challenges and opportunities? Do you have a connection who does a lot of hiring that might be willing to run a mock interview with you?
  • Know Your Interviewers - Take the time to look at their profiles to get a sense of their background, longevity with the company, and common interests/connections. Consider how their background or current role might influence the perspective they bring or the priorities they will have in the interview.

I hope this starter guide helps inspire you to spend a few (more) minutes each day connecting and exploring LinkedIn to enhance your network and career.

Wishing you a successful career journey!