These days most people have heard of LinkedIn – but I find many don’t understand what it really is or what it can do for them. Essentially it is a social media site, like Facebook, where people can connect with others and share information. However it is specifically targeted as a ‘professional’ networking portal where you share your recent career achievements rather than photos of your kids or pictures of you drinking at your mate’s bbq last weekend.
You begin by signing up with your name and a valid email address and then get to work on your profile. It is like an interactive resume – you add everywhere you have worked, your position and the length of time you spent there, plus what your career goals are for the future. Keep in mind that these details are visible to anyone on the internet, including prospective employers.
It is common practice these days for employers to search online for details on an applicant, so don’t list any work places you would rather no one knew about. As it is possible to search companies on LinkedIn, an employer could locate people you have previously worked with as well. So if you have been fired from a job and don’t want to disclose it – don’t list the job on your profile.
Once you have added your past workplaces you can look for connections – people you know. These are ranked depending on the degree of separation you have. First degree contacts are people you have added to your network – you sent them an invitation to connect with you and they accepted. Second degree contacts are people who have connected with your contacts, but are not yet connected directly to you. To explain this further imagine I added my current workplace and connected with all the employees there – these are all now first degree contacts. If a new person starts work with your company and adds it to their Linkedin profile they are instantly a 2nddegree connection for me. They become a first degree connection when we personally make the effort to add each other. Third degree connections are those that are connected to your second degree connections – confused yet? Don’t fret – that side of it isn’t terribly important in the broad scheme of things! Just keep in mind that over time, as your list of connections builds, your reputation is summed up by the relationships you’ve developed over your career.
If you run your own business, create a company profile – there is a wizard program you can follow for this. Add logos, locations, blogs sites, company bio and more. Forward the link to any employees you have so they can add it to their profiles.
One of the best features of LinkedIn is ‘Groups’ which allows people with a common interest to connect with each other and discuss relevant topics. This is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field as you answer questions or participate in conversations. Remember this is a professional forum – so don’t use acronyms like LOL or IMO – keep these for Facebook.
By getting involved in groups you can build your presence online and be acknowledged by people who would otherwise have never heard of you. Take some time each week to browse through your groups and you will be surprised the wealth of information you can find.
There is also an active forum for Questions and Answers that is open to participate in, giving you further opportunity to raise your profile –http://www.linkedin.com/answers
On your ‘Home’ page you are able to create status updates, much like Facebook and Twitter, however these should be relevant to your business image. LinkedIn allows you to connect your profile with other platforms such as Twitter, which can enrich your profile.
Only link it to a professional Twitter account though – as you don’t want your status updates to fill up with the inane chatter that can be present on most personal accounts.
If you write a blog you should definitely import that to LinkedIn as it is an opportunity to share your knowledge, raise your profile in your field and increase traffic to your website or blog site.
Requesting a ‘Recommendation’ is an effective way to enhance your professional image, as it works as a reference. You are able to ask your connections to write you a short recommendation which will then be visible to anyone viewing your profile, giving you more credibility and authority. Again, keep these to business contacts – no one cares that your BFF thinks you are the most wonderful person they have ever known.
A great benefit of LinkedIn is that it optimises very well in Google, with your profile frequently being the first result in a search for you by name which is preferable to some of the results that could show for many people. You need to ensure you have selected ‘Full View’ in your public profile so that search engines can locate you.
LinkedIn has a ‘Jobs’ section where you can search for a position or browse through the ones in the ‘Jobs you may be interested in’ panel, which will have matched your interests and past positions with similar new jobs on offer. Similarly, recruiters will sometimes scour LinkedIn to find potential candidates for roles they are trying to fill. The more detail you have in your profile the greater you chances of being found in these searches.
So – some quick tips to keep in mind now that you are ready to get Linkedin –
- Keep your profile professional, but not dry – it should still reflect your personal style – this is what will make you stand out as individual.
- Add your own company to LinkedIn with as much detail as possible
- Search for relevant groups to help you get connected and raise your profile
- Make connections – be proactive and send invitations to people you know
- Link relevant platforms such as Twitter or you blog to your LinkedIn profile
- Participate! This is the most important one – there is no point creating a profile if you don’t utilise it. Get involved!
Thanks to webcrumbs for a great article