Many out there are using LinkedIn to search for a new job. While LinkedIn is a key part of the job search strategy, if you aren’t using it to get some work now while you search for that dream job – then you are missing an opportunity.
Maybe you want to find a job with a company – or maybe you are considering entrepreneurship? Why not use LinkedIn to go in both directions at the same time.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Set up your profile for your mission: Set your current job to one that highlights the talents you bring to the table – “Expert financial consultant with 7 years experience”, “Attorney with 5 years experience in civil litigation.” These tag lines should be written for both HR managers and people looking for consultants – imagine what they might type into search and then use that in your job classification.
    Along the same lines … let your network know that you are looking for consulting opportunities through your status update. Use some keywords that people would type in, but the main audience is your network. Finally, don’t send the wrong signals to LinkedIn and your network by making sure that you have set your profile to accept both job offers and business opportunities.
  2. Tap your offline network: No matter how big your network is, take a second look at former colleagues who could potentially be a LinkedIn connection. Go beyond the companies you’ve worked for and expand your brainstorm to anyone that you worked with while in those positions. Send personalized messages to people when you contact them and use it as a way to kick-start an online conversation. For those people who you worked with, get recommendations from them … not only does this help when people are researching you, but at the same time anyone with at least three recommendations shows up more often in search.
  3. Do some research: Are there companies that you think might be hiring consultants? Companies you’d like to consult for? Maybe you don’t know, but you’d like to find out? Use the advanced search function and enter the company you want to research. Look through who is online and who would be the best person to get to know … like a department head. If they are connected to you through one of your connections, you might even ask for an introduction, but don’t be afraid to send them a connection request.
  4. LinkedIn Jobs: Not only are jobs posted on LinkedIn, but you may also find short term consultancies listed. Why not get some work now … who knows, could turn into something long term. If not, you still end up with a new resume point, some money in your pocket, and a new contact.
  5. Join Groups: Are there groups for people in your field or groups for people in your industry? These can be great places to grow your network and also to hear about business opportunities and new start ups. Go the extra mile here – write an expert article and send it to the group while at the same time actively commenting on other group member’s articles. You never know who is going to read it … but because it is going out to a group, you do know you have the right audience.
    (Cautionary note: you will see people spam groups with notices that they are looking for work … this may seem like a good idea, but we all know how people feel about spammers.)
  6. Use the ‘Question & Answer’ Section: Look through questions in the question and answer section of LinkedIn for an opportunity to show your expertise. Your answers will stay up for everyone to see, including people who may want to hire you. At the same time, these notices are sent out to your network which may help them remember how talented you are or even be on a subject that they themselves need help with.

LinkedIn puts huge networks in the palm of your hand, but like everything … what you get out of it is proportionate to what you put into it. The key is be smart, be interesting, but most importantly … get out there and join the online cocktail party!