dream-jobHave you secretly been wondering what all the hoopla is over social networking sites like LinkedIn…but been too afraid to ask? Or perhaps you are in the midst of a job search and know using sites liked LinkedIn should be part of your job search strategy….but you are not exactly sure how to go about it?

If so, you are going to love these 5 easy tips for using LinkedIn to create powerful networking connections, brand your image and quickly get you noticed!

Tip #1: Create a powerful profile

It’s free to join and once you have, you’ll want to create a profile which best highlights the skills and strengths you most want to showcase. Here are a few tips to setting up your account:

Use a current version of your resume to post your profile.
Your profile should contain those things you wish to be known for – and nothing more!
Don’t go back too far with your job history unless you have a really good reason for it.
Have someone (friend, loved one, resume writer) edit and proof your profile.
Use discretion with listing personal information…just like a resume.

Tip #2: Find your friends

You can search for old classmates, past companies, friends or just try keyword searches in your area of interest. Invite friends and associates to connect with you and accept invitations from others to quickly grow your network (you will want to read LinkedIn’s information about accepting others’ invitations to help you decide whose invitations to accept). Bear in mind the larger your network, the wider your audience and that is generally what you want.

Tip #3: Get involved in Q&A

Easily search topics and offer answers to establish yourself as an expert. You can also ask questions to engage others and establish rapport. This small investment of your time will pay off abundantly in both the short and long term.

Tip #4: Join groups

There are tens of thousands of groups and group forums on LinkedIn.

Forums give you an instant audience in a particular industry, networking group, alumni group, company or geographic area! Currently you can join up to 50 groups.

You can post a question, post a news or blog article or announce you are open to new career opportunities.

If you are a job seeker, don’t forget to post your candidacy on the 10,000+ member recruiter groups. You will be casting a wide net, but stand to garner several positive responses. Just be clear about what your specialty is to make it easy for the recruiters to identify potential interest on their part.

Tip #5: Use LinkedIn’s group email feature

Sometimes LinkedIn will charge a user to connect with others, but not in group forums. Check out the member listings for your groups and email selected group members (in the group forums) absolutely free!

Being a member of LinkedIn quickly establishes your credibility, gives you an audience in an amazing choice of industries and allows you to fully leverage yourself in the market.

These five tips will get you quickly moving forward, however this is just the tip of the iceberg! My friend, Jason Alba, wrote an amazing little book called, “I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?” That is packed with useful tips to quickly getting your LinkedIn membership working for you!