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The topic of Jumpstarting a second career seemed to resonate with readers, and so I’m going to throw in a series on each of the different LinkedIn components and describe how experienced professionals should be using LinkedIn to jumpstart their careers – if they’re switching, or even if they’re staying put in the same field.

Yes, even if you’re in the very same career you started in, you can use LinkedIn to enhance your stature, effectiveness, and probably even your pay.

Let’s have a  look at connections.

What I said

The earlier article had this to say about connections for those starting a second career:

This just happens to be the one area that offers the most to a second career – a history of great relationships.

If you’ve been a professional for more than a decade, you’ve got to have contacts. The people you worked with, worked for, and those that worked for you. Vendors, professional associations, alumni groups, volunteer organizations, not-for-profits, and even neighbors.

You’re going to connect to everyone you know and trust.

Because of this work history, you have a natural resource – all of the people you’ve encountered.

The rationale

How often have you seen loners shoot through the ranks? Isn’t it more common that people who build and maintain relationships just happen to find the plum assignments?

Gladwell talks about a special kind of person that is very adept at building these relationships – a connector. This makes sense to me, and there seems to be a handful in every organization that just “get it”.

The whole building and cultivating an incredible number of relationships is a lot of work though. It isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and perhaps isn’t your cup of tea either.

But that’s where LinkedIn comes in.

Connections to people you already know

The basis for a LinkedIn connection is that you know and trust each of the people you connect to.

And that makes it easy to identify someone to invite to connect, or to determine if you should accept a connection request from someone else.

Let me suggest that during each year of your career, you probably came across 10 people that would easily fit this category. Sure, if you were in the same role in the same company for a long time, there may not have been that much turnover – but consider your associations outside of the workplace:

  • Professional organizations – conferences, meetings, and social get-togethers that led to friendships
  • Neighborhood associations – block parties, street sales, and just plain socializing with the people next door.
  • Religious affiliations – church members, inter-church activities, charity events.
  • Sports clubs
  • School boosters
  • Parent organizations
  • Community associations…

The list is huge – you’ve been around, and should connect to the people you know.

Assistance

And this is how you stay “close” to the Jones-es – the connectors – you don’t have to have the innate ability to build and maintain your professional network, LinkedIn makes it easy.

What’s the most common thing that happened to the people you knew? I’ll answer that – they moved on. Did you follow-up and keep tabs on them over the years? What, you’re saying you just lost track of people?

So with LinkedIn’s assistance, you can re-connect to these people, and then you don’t have to do very much to stay connected with them. It’s hardly any work at all. Because if they keep up with LinkedIn, you keep up with them. And if you keep up with LinkedIn, they keep up with you.

All the work that the connectors do to stay networked is made much simpler with the help of the online tool.

Building your network

This is a topic for a later article – mainly through introductions, but if you want to peek ahead, check out the category archive in the side column.

Suffice it to say – once you start growing your network, you still don’t have to stress about “staying in touch” with all of these people – because LinkedIn covers your back, and lets you reach out to a larger group than you might otherwise be able to maintain.

Any questions?

Ok – that’s the nut.

Because you’ve got an established professional history, you ought to know a good number of people. And these people will be able to help you with a new career – or within your current career.

If this seems like a great nugget of advice but you’re left with a need to understand LinkedIn from beginning to end in one concise read, try “The LinkedIn Personal Trainer“. It’s perfect for the newcomer, and you have my guarantee that it will set you going with LinkedIn or I’ll refund the e-book purchase price – which isn’t all that much to begin with.

If you have a single question on the topic of connections, leave it here as a comment and we’ll look at it together.

Next up – branding. (no, not like livestock, like corporations;-)

To your continued success,

steve

Steven Tylock
http://www.linkedinpersonaltrainer.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/stevetylock