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How to use LinkedIn

Posted By Lily McCall, GAIN intern, Tuesday, December 7, 2010
In this town, everyone swears by networking. The connections you make come in handy all the time. But in a place where everybody knows everybody, how do you keep track of your network? LinkedIn is the answer. It’s a networking tool that helps you discover inside connections to other professionals and opportunities. You might discover that the person who once held your dream job went to your alma mater, or that an old friend used to work with someone with whom you’d like to get an informational interview. The possibilities are endless. Building your LinkedIn network is like playing Six Degrees of Separation, minus the part where you get to be friends with Kevin Bacon.

One important thing to note is that LinkedIn is NOT Facebook. It is a professional tool and people use it for professional purposes. It’s not just a game to see how many connections you can make; you want to have quality connections so that you can actually take advantage of them in the future. It won’t do you much good to be connected on LinkedIn to someone whom you met so briefly that they won’t remember who you are in 6 months, much less be willing to help you out. Also, don’t be offended if people say that they’d rather not connect on LinkedIn. People use it to different degrees, and some may only want to connect with close friends and work colleagues. That doesn’t mean you still can’t get the person’s business card and ask for an informational interview in the future!

Bottom line - play it smart. Don’t be creepy. It never hurts to politely ask if you can connect with someone on LinkedIn. Expand your network and then make it work for you! It really is all about who you know...

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