One of the focuses on Qualified, Broke, and Jobless is how to get the job without connections. With the new age of LinkedIn promoting large networks and social media showcasing our most appealing traits and life wins, connection opportunities are endless. Alas, we learn, however, often disappointingly, that these surface connections aren’t much without the real life, multi-dimensional individuals behind them. A connection on paper is as good as the formatting on your resume – it might get you noticed, and it also might not.
So, to hell with connections. Screw connections! Why bother with LinkedIn? Why am I even on LinkedIn? Well, plain and simple. I’m on to check in on how my old, new, soon to be connections are fairing, what they are doing, what they are saying, who’s hiring, who’s not, what’s hot, and because someone said I should be on here.
OK. LinkedIn is beneficial, I’m happy to be on it, and I’m not going to disconnect any time soon. I can basically electronically display my resume for the whole world to see, whether I am looking or not. It helps me stay up to date with my own qualifications, and create new goals – if I so chose – based on what others in the same field are up to. I reach out, people reach out, I post, people post, I comment, and I read up on the latest technologies, trends, and sometimes news. It’s a nice “professional” break from all the engagement slideshows and baby photos that raid my Facebook and Instagram (and yes, I do still love scrolling through them all).
Do we need LinkedIn? The answer is two-fold. No, I don’t need LinkedIn, but I sometimes also do. I could as easily go to a company’s website, apply online, send a resume, and – as most of us do – wait for the rest. Or, I could talk to my circle of friends, colleagues even, and find my opportunities through those channels.
Recently though, a contact I met during a career fair at my university, thanked me fervently for reaching out on LinkedIn after we had met. He was impressed by the extra effort and said that (at that time) not many people did that, so it was refreshing and very professional of me to have followed through. Now, of course, LinkedIn, is the way of the world. If you meet someone, you’ll often be told or requested to connect on LinkedIn and send a message or your resume there. It’s become somewhat of a formality, another avenue to check into your background and experience.
Again, however, I don’t need it. For example, I was LinkedIn-less (or very poorly “linked” / set up if I did have it) when I was applying for my current job. I was in my last semester of college, just one professional internship under my belt (that was somewhat in my field of study), and utterly connection-less. But, a little too creative of a resume in hand, I walked the networking event, table by table, acting confident, faking it til I made it. One table, my favorite one, was the easiest table to be at. People came through and left, and I, stood by, still in conversation with the recruiter. Interviews followed, offer letter was signed, and day one came sooner than I knew it. And in four years, I have been promoted three times, all from employee recommendations with the actual application filled only as formality. This, all without LinkedIn? Shocking right? Friends, we don’t need an app, a consultant, a website. We need motivation.
LinkedIn is a tool. It is Facebook reconfigured. It is the highlight reel of all things good. Are you really there to connect and build business relationships? On some level, sure. But, just like Facebook, it only takes the relationship so far. I have maybe 1000 or more friends on Facebook. Do I have relationships with them? No. I don’t sit here to knock down social media, or in this case, professional “social” media, and you’ll even notice you can find this post by weaving through LinkedIn. I use it, I abuse it, I love it. The heart of this post is that LinkedIn is a platform – a mighty, useful – if not necessary – platform, but a platform nonetheless. It is a stepping stone. It is not the end result. The end result is still very much up to the individual. So, get one, stay on it, reactivate, cancel it even, or whatever it is you need to do, but also complete the cycle. Find existing connections, make new ones, showcase the best qualifications you’ve got. Know, though, as great as connections are, the hiring system is not based on connections. You don’t need to know someone already; it is about connecting with people, new and old, making impressions, getting what you want, and landing the job with your motivation, passion, and persistence. Just as Facebook is for connecting with friends, making new ones – the “friending” itself – doesn’t make the relationship. You do.