Don’t let LinkedIn misconceptions hold you back. Let them go and utilize this platform to its fullest.

When you’re first starting out, networking is a buzzword that generates anything but a warm and fuzzy reaction. In fact, most new grads instinctively recoil at the suggestion. The prospect of milling about in a room full of strangers wearing a stiff smile, handing out hastily-printed business cards while pressing the flesh, is what makes networking nerve-wracking to many. However, if you are serious about taking your career search to new heights, you can rely on LinkedIn’s help for some of the heavy lifting in building your personal brand.

Developing your LinkedIn network will take an investment of time on your part, but the connections you make will open you to opportunities, information, and partnerships down the road. You can connect with people from near and far, in industries familiar to you and in industries very different, all enabling you to learn. LinkedIn provides a platform where you can share expertise and extend your reach. Sounds great, right?

As is the case with most valuable things, fallacies about LinkedIn persist and need to be ceremoniously carried off into the dustbin of history. Let’s blow up these misconceptions and turn them into LinkedIn tips for job seekers:

LinkedIn Misconception #1: The more people I connect with on LinkedIn, the better my chances at scoring a position.

At its core, LinkedIn is not a job search site. So, while the functionality to search for jobs exists, job searchers primarily find out about positions as a result of their interactions. If you work on establishing relationships, the jobs will come. Focus on communicating your strengths to your connections and asking for information or for professional advice from people inside the industries in which you wish to work, and you may ultimately get your resume in the hands of an actual person. Showing panache, professionalism, and a strong passion for your field will prove to be more fruitful than probing for job leads.

LinkedIn Misconception #2: If I have a LinkedIn profile, my boss will think I’m job hunting.

Professionals of all stripes have gotten on the LinkedIn bandwagon, and most of these people are not actively seeking work elsewhere. The purpose of a LinkedIn profile is to highlight your background, to support your resume’s story about your experience and expertise, and to engage with those in your field. As a matter of fact, in the fourth quarter of 2015, there were 414 million LinkedIn members— so your boss probably has a LinkedIn profile, as well!

LinkedIn Misconception #3: Once I set my LinkedIn profile up, I don’t need to revisit it often.

Consider this LinkedIn tip for job seekers: The most effective LinkedIn accounts are those which are actively tended by their owners. To generate the most benefits, don’t set it and then forget it. Make your profile work for you by joining groups, following companies and industries, and commenting on others’ posts — even when you are not seeking work. Then, once you are in a job search, employers will be able to find you based on your activity on the site. After they discover your passions and interests, they may even decide to contact you if what they see is a good match with their positions.  

LinkedIn Misconceptions #4: Although I’d like a LinkedIn profile, I’m concerned about my privacy.

It is up to you to determine how much of your profile your connections are able to see. By readjusting your privacy settings, you can regulate how much of your personal data is made public. You can choose to show or hide information, such as your prior employment history, your contact information, and any comments you’ve made in groups, to connections and non-connections alike.

LinkedIn Misconception #5: LinkedIn will allow people who I don’t know to connect with me.

You always have the option of viewing someone’s profile before connecting with them if their name or face is unfamiliar to you. And consider this helpful LinkedIn tip: There is also an option to block certain connections based on set criteria. LinkedIn is respectful of each user’s privacy and encourages users to exercise their rights and choice of who to accept as a connection.

Piecing together a job search strategy takes more than just logging on to a job search engine, uploading your resume, sitting back, and waiting. While you wait, someone else will have snagged the job of which you’ve been dreaming, not because they’re a better or more qualified candidate, but because they know how to use the remarkably valuable tool known as networking — through which 70-80% of all jobs are found. When you start networking through LinkedIn, you highlight your personal brand and increase the chances that a real hiring manager will, at some point, consider you a real candidate.

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