Using LinkedIn as a contractor
Back in 2003, LinkedIn was launched to support the recruitment industry in matching appropriate candidates to vacancies. It was a kind of glorified CV site where people could display their skills, experience and updates online, in real time, in an attempt to attract the attention of the right employer.
Of course, like everything else in the fast-moving technological age that we live in, it has evolved and developed into a whole new commercial social media site. At its core, it still fulfils its original purpose as a place where people can advertise and put themselves forward for jobs. Its real power, however, is as a professional networking platform where introductions can be made, relationships grown, and communications shared.
For contractors this means they can do much more than simply apply for jobs!
Becoming the first port of call
Being proactive on LinkedIn can make you stand out from the crowd and help you win your dream contract. But to get the maximum benefit from LinkedIn, as an online contract-finding tool, you need to be using it long before you need your next contract. The best strategy is to plan ahead and build a strong profile that is primed for attracting the right attention at exactly the right time.
If you wait until you are out of employment, then start stalking, applying, badgering and messaging that you’d ‘like to add someone to your professional network’ it might come across as desperate. In fact, it certainly will. I’m not saying that LinkedIn cannot be used like this, and it will not hurt to be one of the many people out there using the platform to hunt for work. I’m just pointing out that if you want to be seen as different to everyone else, and stand above the desperate crowd, then you might want to take a more strategic approach.
Be proactive on LinkedIn for just 10 minutes a day
Seriously, it really is not that difficult or that time consuming to get smart on LinkedIn. Here are a few simple activities that can prepare you for when your current contract ends and your dream contract appears:
- Post an update: Simply click on the ‘Share an article, photo, video or idea’ box and write something of value. It could be a lesson you learned today, a link to an interesting article, something you think others might find useful, or an update saying you will be looking for work in June. The key is to look and be active.
- Read a relevant article and make a comment: it only needs to be one a day (remember this is no more than 10 minutes) but it must be a genuine thought.
- Invite someone to connect with you: Make sure that it is a relevant person, and that you don’t use the standard introduction: take some time to think about how the invitee will react to your words.
Before you can start this daily routine (10 minutes only) you must make sure your profile is up to date. I reckon it would be worth taking out a good half day to go through it, tweak your profile, fill in the gaps and make sure that your skills and best attributes are well presented. This includes using a clear headline, professional photograph and smart background image – remember first impressions count.
The real key to your communication, however, is to know whose attention you are trying to reach. Find 20 or so companies that you would like to work for; identify the decision makers or relevant contacts in those organisations; and start to build your daily activities around getting noticed by them. Don’t overdo it, though, be sure to mix your networking with other people too…
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