Using LinkedIn to find a job or to advertise your company/services:
While LinkedIn has an in-build job board, which you can access from the menu on the top of the LinkedIn home-screen, I do not find this service overly useful for hospitality professionals, mainly because there are very few hospitality jobs being posted on LinkedIn.
When it comes to job boards, our industry has a wealth of specialised sites, e.g. Caterer Global or hcareers, which work better than LinkedIn when it comes to finding job postings.
You may still want to give LinkedIn a shot when you are looking for a new role. Do not be put off by the fact that “Hospitality” or even “Leisure” do not feature in the list of industries you can select from in the job search section of LinkedIn – just search by position titles. You may have to try a couple of position or spellings and you can also try simply entering the word “hotel” into the position title search box – it’ll bring up all remotely hotel-related vacancies.
For hospitality professionals, then, LinkedIn’s strength is not so much as job board or traditional job/vacancies posting site, but as a market place of interesting connections and opportunities. Used correctly, LinkedIn gives you access to a large number of recruiters and head hunters – your profile quality and your overall visibility on LinkedIn are, of course, very important here.
By now, you should have a suitably large network – use it to your advantage! Make contact with people in the company/location you are targeting. Don’t necessarily fall with door into the house, but build relationships. Use your LinkedIn status updates to broadcast the fact that you are looking for a new role, unless, of course, you’re still gainfully employed and do not want your current employer to find out that you are looking.
Search LinkedIn’s group directory and join the largest hospitality groups – most of them have job boards and you should scan them regularly or even make a post yourself to let other group members know what you have to offer.
Don’t forget – you can decide whether a group’s logo is shown on your LinkedIn profile or not whenever you join a group, so if you do not want your current employer or your entire network to know that you just joined a group like “I need a new job because my current one doesn’t fulfil me anymore” or similar, just don’t display the group’s logo on your profile. Warning: This isn’t 100% fail safe – the fact that you are a member of a group is still visible to other members of the group, so you could, theoretically, bump into people you know should rather not know.
You can, of course, also use LinkedIn to advertise your company or your services. Like most other major networking sites, LinkedIn offers a variety of paid advertisement options for both large budgets (USD 25,000+) and small budgets (USD 50+) and you can find out more about paid advertising on LinkedIn here, but if you don’t want to spend money, there are other ways to find guests, customers or clients:
Participate in discussions: Find discussions related to your target area and participate in them. Make sure that all your replies to discussions contain a link to your website (or your company’s website) or blog at the end. Remember, though, your replies should add value to a discussion – if they don’t, people might think you are only posting to advertise your company details.
Regularly scan the Questions & Answers section for your target areas: You’ll be surprised how often people ask questions like “Can somebody recommend a good travel agent/web designer/etc.?” and if you’re on the ball, you can shout “Me, me, me!” before anybody else does. Besides, answering questions earns you expertise – who do you think somebody looking for, say, a freelance marketing professional, will turn to first on LinkedIn? Probably somebody whose profile shows expertise in marketing and PR.
Make full use of all the LinkedIn applications discussed earlier: Post slide-shows of your work via SlideShare, show off your blog posts on your LinkedIn profile, integrate Twitter, etc. – visibility is king! Consistency, though, is queen – make sure that whatever you present is giving out the right message and looks professional.
Whatever you do, do not spam! It’s okay to send out a monthly newsletter to your connections who have indicated that they want to receive it, but it’s not okay to spam them with overly frequent mailings or to post blatant advertising in LinkedIn’s Questions & Answers section or in group discussions – doing so will probably get you banned from LinkedIn in the long run.
The final touches:
Here are a couple of things, which even some seasoned LinkedIn users do not always know about, but which might just come in handy one of these days:
I mentioned earlier that, if you switch on your public LinkedIn profile, you can get a neat “vanity” profile url – do consider this as it will make it easier for people to find you on LinkedIn and generally looks better. Talking about customizing things, though, did you know that you can also customize the titles of the links in the “Additional Information” section of your LinkedIn profile? Why be stuck with a link to your company’s website that’s called “My Company” or a link to your blog that’s called “My Blog” when you can give them proper names like “iconsulthotels” or “270669 – My Blog”? To do this, simply select “Other:” when adding a website to the “Additional Information” section of your profile and then type the name you want to give the link into the box before the box containing the url of the link.
Stuck somewhere without a copy of your CV?
This is a really nifty little LinkedIn option and I can’t believe that LinkedIn does not advertise it more openly. In fact, they don’t really advertise it at all. Go to your own LinkedIn profile and click on “View My Profile”. You will now see your LinkedIn profile like your connections will see it. Take a peek at the area just to the right of your profile picture – can you see a little printer icon next to a little PDF icon just under the “Forward this profile to a connection” link? Click on the printer icon and your profile will print, beautifully laid out, in a matter of seconds. Click on the PDF icon and you can save your profile in PDF format and email it to people who are not on LinkedIn in seconds. Provided your profile is fully and professionally completed, it can act as an instantaneous CV.
Don’t like the order of the different section on your LinkedIn profile?
Did you know that you can change the order of the different sections on your LinkedIn profile? To be honest, I only found this out myself a couple of days ago by accident. Go to “Edit My Profile” and scroll down to the first section below the information in the blue box. Notice the little crossed arrows next to the word “Summary”? Click on the icon and drag the entire section to somewhere else on your profile and then release the mouse button. Done. You can’t move all parts of your LinkedIn profile, but you can move most. I think that LinkedIn standard profile layout isn’t bad, but it can be improved, so feel free to play around with the various sections until you have found an order that suits you more.