While Grace Hopper is a great technical conference, it is also a wonderful place to network and find jobs. When you're preparing for the conference, you should consider creating a LinkedIn profile or updating your existing one. LinkedIn is a great professional networking site, ripe with opportunities to reconnect to past colleagues and find new employment.
Once your profile is created, you can join the Anita Borg Institute group and the Grace Hopper Celebration subgroup, where you can join the conversation that's already buzzing about the upcoming conference, start scanning job opportunities posted to the ABI group page, and making connections with the recruiters that will be coming to Grace Hopper this year.
Setting up a basic profile in LinkedIn is pretty easy - the website will walk you through the steps, but if you want people to feel comfortable with you and start connecting, then you need to go beyond just the basics.
LinkedIn is like an online resume, but unlike your resume you don't have to worry as much about going over one page. In addition to listing your past employers, fill in details about the work you did at each place. You should also fill in your education details, listing any activities you participated in at school, like ACM. LinkedIn will then allow you to find connections at your school and employers, which will help increase your network and exposure in the site.
The more you personalize your page, the more it will look like it belongs to an actual human and people will be more willing to link with you. You can do this in several ways. I suggest adding a recent photograph, but make sure you look professional (pictures from spring break doing shots on the beach would probably not make the best first impression :). A summary, or bio, at the top is a quick way to let people know what you do and what type of technologies you're interested in.
Find connections! LinkedIn makes searching for people you may know very easy, as it finds people who worked at the same employer at the same time, or attended the same University at the same time. Once you start making connections, you can go through your connections' connections to find more people you know, and request that they connect with you.
Adding links to your personal website and blog, if you have them, is another great way to let people learn more about you without cluttering your page.
One thing to keep in mind is that while LinkedIn is a great place to find a job, you should also keep your page updated even when you are not actively looking. You never know when you suddenly may need a new job, or when a great opportunity may find you through LinkedIn. Growing your network is valuable all year round!
A word of caution: people generally don't like to see the generic spam from any social networking site when you load in your email address book. So, instead of doing that, send only specific, targeted invitations to people that have not yet joined that you want to connect with - and take time to explain why you want to connect.
Once you have everything set up, join the conversation in the Grace Hopper Group!
Any more LinkedIn tips or tricks? What have you done to grow your network?
You can learn more about other Grace Hopper communities on this blog all week, or by checking out the communities page on the Grace Hopper site!
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