‘Tis the Season of Giving on LinkedIn

December 17, 2012

One of my all-time favorite LinkedIn tips comes from the company’s co-founder, Reid Hoffman. He frequently talks about the importance of doing “small goods” for the people in your network, such as forwarding a useful article, flagging an interesting discussion in a group, or making an introduction to someone in your network.

Hoffman believes, and I agree, that the more you give, the more you will receive in return. Plus, it always feels great to help other people.

For job seekers, giving is also a beneficial job search tactic. Check out these ways that giving to others on LinkedIn can help you get hired:

Give endorsements. LinkedIn’s new Endorsements feature is a great way to give a quick boost to a professional connection you’ve worked with or gone to school with. When you endorse someone for the areas of expertise you believe he or she possesses, you’re giving a quick gift while at the same time showing that person that you care -- and that you have noticed his or her strengths.

As an added bonus, your profile photo will appear next to the skills you’ve endorsed, which will serve as a frequent reminder to the person you’ve endorsed that you are a trusted and generous member of his or her network. The next time that person hears of a relevant job opportunity, your endorsement may serve as a reminder of what a good candidate you’d be for that position.

Give recommendations. In addition to providing endorsements, you might consider writing LinkedIn recommendations for contacts whose work you know well. Like endorsements, recommendations show people that you are a generous member of their networks, but they provide another job search benefit as well: recommendations help you tell more of your career story.

Here’s how: in a recommendation, you can talk about specific projects you’ve worked on with a colleague, results you jointly achieved for a client or characteristics you admire in a manager. Recommendations, which of course have the primary goal of helping the person you’re recommending, have the secondary benefit of showing a potential employer what you value and what a good team player you are. As a result, a recommendation appearing on the page of a colleague just might inspire a recruiter to click over to your profile to learn more.

Give knowledge. Another gift to give this month is one of the most valuable commodities in the Information Age: knowledge. Check LinkedIn.com every day to find opportunities to share helpful articles with your network, to answer a question a contact has posted or to chime in with your thoughts on an interesting discussion in an industry group. In addition to being helpful to people in your network, all of these actions provide you with visibility to potential employers or connections to job opportunities.

Give your talents. Stepping away from the computer for a moment, December is a wonderful time to volunteer in person for organizations you support. Many organizations are especially busy at the end of the year and need professional support, such as budget planning, grant writing, bookkeeping, fundraising and more. Volunteering in any capacity is a valuable pursuit, but for job seekers who contribute their professional talents, this pro bono work can also beef up your LinkedIn profile.

For example, if you are not currently working, you can include an ongoing volunteer role as your current Position on your LinkedIn profile. If you are volunteering in a more casual or sporadic way, you can still impress potential employers by including that work in the “Volunteer Experiences and Causes” section of your profile. Recruiters tell me frequently how impressed they are by job candidates who give back to their communities.

Give thanks. Finally, a gift that everyone loves to open is a thank you note. Now is the perfect time of year to send a personal message to all of your LinkedIn contacts who have supported you over the past year. The best thank you notes are specific -- thank you for helping me prepare for my banking interviews, thank you for introducing me to your company’s recruiter, thank you for providing moral support the week I left my job -- and show genuine gratitude.

Thank YOU for reading and sharing my blog posts this year. Happy Holidays and I look forward to seeing you on LinkedIn in 2013!