LinkedIn is becoming a very powerful job hunting tool, mostly because hygienists are learning how to expand and grow their network of connections.
Most connections on LinkedIn don’t just happen. They require some effort on your part, but it’s surprisingly easy. And unlike Facebook, connecting on LinkedIn doesn’t mean you have to necessarily know the person to reach out.
LinkedIn May be considered a social media, but it’s more like a professional network because people are using it the same way they use in-person networking. They are creating connections with industry peers and thus building a virtual professional network. They could be colleagues in your city or even in a completely different country – you get to decide!
What are Connections?
Connections are akin to being friends with someone on Facebook – they are added to a list of people you can communicate with directly and receive updates on things they are doing in LinkedIn. This could be work anniversaries and birthdays, changes to their employment situation, updates of their profile and things they post or announce.
When you search for people, LinkedIn shows you if you are connected with people listed in your search results. If you are connected with someone, it will show you a small “1st” tag when searching for someone or on their profile page. Often you will see “2nd” and “3rd” tags. The “2nd” tag means the person is a connection of your connection (friend of a friend, so to speak), and “3rd” means they are connected to your “2nd” level connections. This is helpful because that’s very often how people network for jobs – you know someone who has a friend who is looking to hire.
There is also a “Group” tag that will show you if someone belongs to the same group you do. LinkedIn has lots of groups – including several for Dental Hygienists. Click here to join the largest of them all, one that I help manage called “Dental Hygienists” (currently more than 17,000 members).
Also, you can search for people by geographic area and their job title – which is very helpful to connecting with people you don’t know.
Step 1: Connect with People You know
Start by connecting with your friends, family and acquaintances (including former co-workers, employers, and people you went to hygiene school with). They will be the basis for finding the 2nd and 3rd tier network, which can be your most powerful. All of them have networks of their own and may be connected with someone that would prove to be a great connection for you (ie dentists and other dental office personnel).
If you already have an account and are connected with some of them – keep searching for others. Connections who know, like, and trust you can also provide testimonials and endorsements for you that provide great third-party validation of how awesome you are. Testimonials are written tributes your connections can write and post about you on your profile, while endorsements can be made about certain skills you identify in your profile. Your connections will be asked periodically to endorse whether you are great at “Patient Education” if that’s something you identify as a skill, and those endorsements will stack up in your profile.
Step 2: Define Your Target Offices
This almost goes without saying but evaluate the geographic area you are able to worth within and create a list of potential offices you could work at. Having done this several times for hygienists, I can tell you it’s usually between 75 and 200 offices. There are some who have much more in major metro areas and others who live in rural communities who have much fewer.
Knowing who you could potentially work for is really helpful in your efforts to do a lot of things – send postcards, do drop-in visits, and keeping track of who you have interviewed for or who you may have a connection with outside of LinkedIn.
But it will also help you start connecting with people from those offices through LinkedIn. You can of course search in Google for this yourself, or you can also hire a virtual assistant through upwork.com to create that list for you – they usually will charge you about $20 to do this and it can save you hours and hours of searching.
Step 3: Connecting with People You Don’t Know
Not everyone has a LinkedIn account, but a lot do and many are pretty active on LinkedIn or at least responsive to a message they get through it.
From your list of target offices, narrow it down to your top 10 – often these are ones that are closest to where you live or that you have some sort of connection to (you have friends or neighbors that go there or you know someone that works there). Then search, on LinkedIn, for the doctors and others who work in those offices. When you find a match, click on the Connect button.
There’s a default message LinkedIn automatically puts in there. You can use that if you wish, but I would consider creating your own. Be honest in your message, tell them you are seeking employment (temporary and/or permanent) and that you are particularly interested in their office and tell them why. Keep your message to about 30-40 words – really short.
If at all possible, include something that connects you to them already. For example, maybe you have a friend who’s neighbor works there, or maybe you have neighbors who go there for dental cleanings. Tell them that – that’s hard for an employer to ignore.
Not everyone will accept your connection – don’t let that discourage you because this is a game of numbers and you just have to keep after it. Keep building those connections because it only takes one good one to make the whole effort worth it. And you never know when the work you are doing now will pay off big time in a few years.
Step 4: Keep Reaching Out
Once you have reached out to the top 10 list, expand it by 10 more. Just keep trying to grow your connections with people. But do it in smaller bites so you don’t get discouraged or give up because it seems too overwhelming. I would also not try and do all of this within one day or even a week. This is a long-game strategy that you want to engage in regularly over the period of your entire career, same as you would in-person networking.
Step 5: Thank and Help Them
When you do land a connection (you’ll get notice when someone accepts) – thank them and offer to help them with their career goals. That’s the heart of networking. You help them, they’ll feel the need to help you. You could even suggest they join any one of the many dental hygiene groups that exist on LinkedIn.
Step 6: Let Others Find YOU
Several weeks ago I showed you how to customize your LinkedIn address so that it’s really simple and easy for people to type in, click here to read more about that. But once you do that, put a link to your profile in the signature line of all your e-mails (not just when you apply for jobs). Let everyone you e-mail know how to connect with you by LinkedIn.
Same goes with your business cards. If you don’t have a set, get a set and put your LinkedIn profile address on there, too.
LinkedIn is a great job hunting tool – click here if you need my help setting up or updating your LinkedIn profile. Take the time to create a profile and make it as complete as possible. More than 90% of all employers admit they will “Google” the names of those they are considering for a job interview. One of the highest search results will almost always be a person’s LinkedIn profile. That gives you a great opportunity to reinforce who you are with them which is one more way to land a great dental hygiene job.