I got a message through LinkedIn just the other day that is the perfect example of how NOT to use LinkedIn in your job search.
"Please keep me in mind if you hear of any marketing positions in CT or NY on the agency or client side. I have 15+ years marketing experience at XXXXX, XXXXX, ad agencies and most recently consulting on consumer packaged goods. I've also been volunteering on the Board for the XXXXXXXX. It would be great if you could connect me with someone that might be able to help in my job search. "
On the one hand this request is not awful. It is a good summary of their career and recent activity and it was reasonably specific (it hit the three critical points of "what you want", "where you want it" and "why they should hire you"). On the other hand, when put in the context of WHERE it is being delivered it comes across as both lazy and tone deaf.
The approach this person was taking is just the online version of the "old" way of networking. The kind that is less effective because it puts too much pressure on your contact to figure out the next step. I have more than 300 contacts on LinkedIn and many people have well over 500. But, more importantly, those 300 contacts connect me to more than 3 million people. So, yes, I'm pretty sure one of my 3 million connections can probably help this person. But asking me to do the heavy lifting for you is a recipe for being ignored and this is why most people fail at networking. They choose the easy path of "let me know if you hear of anything" and stop at that.
The magic of LinkedIn is that it removes the vaguery of the way networking used to be. The entire point of LinkedIn is to allow you to take charge of the process and ask for specific help, as in "I see you are connected to Bob Smith at GE. I'm interested in marketing opportunities there. Would you mind introducing me to Bob?". The difference between the two is enormous. In the old scenario, your contact has to think back to every person the've ever met in their entire life and try to envision exactly how to match up your goals with their contacts. In a LinkedIn scenario, your contact really doesn't have to worry about much of anything other than are they willing to introduce you to one of their other friends (and if you have chosen your LinkedIn connections wisely, they won't hesitate to do so).
Wondering more about how to use LinkedIn in your job or internship search?
We recently had a guest lecture by Marc Halpert on using LinkedIn. Some great stuff in his presentation for anyone trying to build a LinkedIn network for a job search.