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'LinkedIn Newbie' gets advice on building a network

In this week's Poked column, which I copied below, Niala and I answer a question from a reader who is on the job hunt, but isn't sure how to get started on LinkedIn:



A Poked reader that we're calling ''LinkedIn Newbie'' sent us this request: How do you catch the eye of a recruiter with your profile without alerting your current employer to the fact that you're on the job hunt?

Here's what else she wrote:

What is the proper way to build a network? I have conducted searches of people who already work in the field I want to move into. I realize I just can't contact people and say, ''Help me find a job, please.'' I am willing to take the time to get to know people and help them if I can. But, I don't even know what to do.


The first way to build a network -- and to not make it look like you're just out to job hunt -- is add people you already work with. Once you fill out your profile, make sure you add your company name. If you work for a big business, LinkedIn should recognize your employer.

Once you have a few connections of co-workers and others, you'll notice LinkedIn will start making recommendations for people you might know. This is a great tool for building your network, so add away.

MORE CONTACTS

Here's something Bridget and Niala do that takes time, but also helps beef up your list of contacts. After a networking event -- say that chamber luncheon or a conference -- we try to take the business cards we've collected and see if they're on LinkedIn. We'll write a quick personal note mentioning where we saw them and inviting them to connect. We sound like a broken record, but don't use the standard, ''I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.'' We hate those, because we think people who send them look like they don't care or don't get the basics of social networking.

Connecting this way solves two problems. You've built up your network, and you can also throw out that business card, because now all that contact information is saved online.

YOUR PROFILE

If you're still feeling like your profile looks puny, LinkedIn also has a way to import contacts from existing e-mail accounts and help you find if they're also on LinkedIn.

Finally, here's a way to connect with strangers. Join a group, whether its an alumni or professional organization or another common interest group. Participate in discussions by being helpful, offering advice or tips.

But right now we'd also like to share a pet peeve about groups: Please don't be that annoying person who's always spamming the group, selling some lame products or continuously posting messages with the subject line: ``I'm looking for a new opportunity!''

Good luck on LinkedIn (and with your secret job hunt!). As always, send any questions, comments or suggestions to [email protected], or post a comment below!

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