It's easy. Click connect and you have a new contact, right?
Not so fast.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter where you can go a bit crazy adding friends and followers, LinkedIn is different. You have to remember, your goal is not to accumulate a mass number of people but to make contacts that will benefit your job search.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when making contact.
Are They Still Active. Some people sign up, but never use it or aren't fully engaged. Others indicate on their contact settings that they are not receiving new connections. If you feel this person will be a beneficial contact, find out if they can be contacted through another avenue. If so, let them know why you want to connect with them and offer to help them out as well.
Check Them Out. Take a moment to read their profile. It says a lot about how active they are on the site.
Make it Personal. LinkedIn has a generic message when sending a request. Take it a step further and personalize your request starting with a short introduction of yourself if the contact doesn't know you.
Identify Your Reason for Contact. Let the person know why you want him or her as a contact. Identify any similarities you may have or mutual connections. Asking for career advice is okay too, just don't be so blatant that you come out and ask for a job recommendation before the person has accepted your invite.
What's in it for Me? Reaching out to a contact is to your benefit. But let him or her know that they too can benefit from having you as a contact. Make it a two-way street, not a one-way.
Thank You. Although it seems obvious, always end your invite with "Thank You."
Follow-up. If time goes by and you haven't received word from your potential contact, reach out one more time. If there is still no response, move onto another contact.
Now that you know how to connect with people, you need to know how people can find you. Customizing your profile to highlight your skills and qualifications will lead people, like job recruiters, to you. Here are few things to keep in mind.
Get Discovered. LinkedIn's new features allow you to get noticed quickly. Using keywords, acronyms and phrases that describe your skills conveys to recruiters what you do without having to upload your resume. This is also a place to note any certifications that relate to your field.
Be Honest. Having an excellent profile is to your advantage. However, don't add skills you don't have, just so that you will pop up in a search. Don't list yourself as an "expert" in your field if you really aren't one. It's possible that you will be asked to prove what you claim to be truth. Zero-in on your strengths and stick with key skills and credentials.
Market Yourself. Your profile is your marketing brochure. It should be concise, filled with information and grab the attention of the recruiter. Although the skills section allows you to list as many skills as you would like, too much information is risky because you aren't showing you are different from the competition. List relevant skills and indicate the level and number of years.