Lovin' LinkedIn.

By Tracy Evans

 

Like it or not networking is a part of business. It’s a skill some have and some don’t. Before I had my daughter schmoozing was easy but now that I’m a tired mother of a toddler I’ve grown lazy and just don’t feel like kissing up to people. Thanks to LinkedIn I don’t have to anymore, at least not in person. I can network in the privacy of my home office no matter what time of day or what I look like. I’ve landed several major business contacts in my ratty old pajamas. Whoever thought of this clever networking site deserves a big bank account and an even bigger box of chocolates. LinkedIn is for business types who want to keep in touch with those they know, catch-up with others they’ve lost touch with, seek out new contacts, and more. Best of all, it’s simple, free and there for you 24/7.

 

Here’s how it works. It all starts with an invite to join the worldwide networking party. And what a party it is: 20 million users in 150 industries and counting. I got my first e-mail invite two years ago but ignored it. I thought, “It’s probably a fad”. Well, after several months, an unexpected pregnancy and a case of mommy-to-be paranoia, “Oh, my gosh, I’m never going to work again,” I happily joined LinkedIn.

 

I created my profile (bio, resume) and then waited for invites to arrive in my e-mail box. I got a few but quickly realized that I needed to make some effort and network myself. Armed with the e-mail addresses of past and present business contacts I sent out invites. Then I took a chance and extended invites to people I wanted to know, but didn’t. Because LinkedIn lets you see your contacts list of connections (unless they’ve chosen not to) you can meet new people that way. Each time someone accepted an invite I got a little thrill as if I just nabbed a great pair of shoes off the clearance rack. In just a few months I racked up one hundred business contacts. Talk about a shopper’s high!

 

Don’t worry, if you’re web leery, a loner or just plain lazy LinkedIn can help. If you want to meet someone new just ask a mutual contact to introduce you to that person. New business acquaintances can seek you out as well as long as the two of you know someone in common. You can accept or decline introductions. And get this, the site also drops names right in your lap. Check out “People You May Know” or “Just Joined LinkedIn” to find former co-workers, people who have similar interests or alumni from your alma mater. The names may or may not be familiar to you. Now some users invite everyone on the planet to join their contact list. I think it’s best to stick to who you know or who you want to know.

 

tvtrace
10.01.08

Tvtrace
To: nancybl

Thank you for responding to my article...
Even if you are not yet back in the workforce you can still use LinkedIn to your advantage. If you were in a career position before you had kids reach out to some of your old contacts - send them a LinkedIn invite to start to build up your connections. You can also ask some of your old work buddies to recommend your work. It doesn't matter if you no longer work with them if you did a good job when you were there they can still write you a recommendation for the time you were in the office. Now if you didn't work before kids and are just now entering the workforce for the first time go ahead and search LinkedIn for people who work in the field you are interested in breaking into. And go from there.

It's also a good idea to join professional groups there are a whole bunch of groups used by LinkedIn members. I am in several groups - mostly television related since that's what I do for a living. Once you join a group - you have access to all the members. And you never know you may run across some names that are familiar to you. Even if you don't you can always get to know other group members.

As for facebook.com - that is also a useful site but it's more of a social thing for highschool and college kids. That's not to say that professionals long out of school don't use it as well but LinkedIn is geared towards professional types and can definitely help get your career back on track or at the very least help you crack the door open a bit.

Best of luck to you!

Tracy Evans

nancybl
09.02.08

How do I get started on Linkedin if I am a mom who is just getting back into the workforce? Onramping...Is it important to be on Facebook.com as well? Or is www.linkedin.com enough?

KillrB
07.05.08

I'm new to LINKDIN but I too see that it is and can be a useful tool and what Mom/Entrepreneur/Wife doesn't need that?!
MILF In The Making!
Bettina Cassell

amyreynolds
06.28.08

I am ADDICTED to LinkedIn. Sometimes I feel like I don't have time to do all the networking that I know I should be doing - LinkedIn is an easy way to keep track of my friends, peers and other professional contacts. I think it's a smart move for moms - staying connected to a network is vital during times of constant change in the workplace. As a recruiter, I use it to network the job candidates I want to hire in the future. Great advice!