As the economy plummeted in 2009, LinkedIn's popularity skyrocketed. LinkedIn grew to more than 53 million members and announced partnerships with IBM, Microsoft and Twitter. If you're on the hunt for a new job—or just looking to ramp up your activity and connections—start the new year off right with these five tips to help you get more from the business networking service.
1. Groups. Actively participate in a handful of groups related to your professional interests to expand your network. Find "Groups" on the navigation bar. From here you can search for a group to join, manage your groups or start a new one. Groups will keep you updated with industry-related information, plus they function as a forum where you can propose and answer questions, helping you become a recognizable name.
2. Company Buzz. Under "More..." choose "Application Directory". This will bring you to a page with a number of applications that you can add to your homepage and profile. The "Company Buzz" tool aggregates mentions of a company from Twitter, allowing you to discover relevant trends and comments about your company. The tool lets you customize and modify the topics to watch and displays charts to track activity. "A lot of people who use Twitter don't know where they can see what's trending, so this is a great application for that," says Eve Mayer Orsburn, CEO of Social Media Delivered, a social media consultancy.
3. Recommendations. These blurbs from your coworkers make your LinkedIn profile more dynamic and bring more credit and validity to your profile. Career experts recommend that you seek recommendations from your coworkers, former managers, direct reports and even clients. Shorter tends to be better; one or two paragraphs will suffice.
4. Events. "Not enough people use events," Orsburn says. "It's a great way to find and connect with new people." Under "More..." choose "Events". Here you can view events (including webinars) that your connections are attending, search popular events and find ones to attend. Orsburn recommends searching for a person you admire and looking through the events he or she is attending. This will give you a good sense of which conferences or events are worth attending, and will help you build more meaningful connections.
5. Advanced People Search. Try using this search method instead of the basic search when looking for new connections. The "Advanced People Search" allows you to find contacts based on geographic area, company, keyword, industry and more. Advanced People Search also gives you the option to search based on when users joined LinkedIn, which Orsburn says can be especially handy. "One of the best ways to find people who can help you is to help them first," she says. "When you use this function to find someone who's a new member to LinkedIn, you can introduce yourself, mention that you see this person is new and offer to introduce them to some of your contacts." You can find this feature under "More..." in the navigation bar.