LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional social networking site, is becoming an increasingly important tool for building your professional visibility, especially online. With over 75 million members, LinkedIn’s designers have been adding more and more functionality to the site, so now it is much more robust and no longer just a place to post your online resume.
I plan to do a series of posts on using LinkedIn effectively, but this one will begin with answering the question “Should I bother to build a LinkedIn profile?” The quick answer is “Yes,” and for now, I will elaborate from the perspective of an individual professional. Yes, your company can have a Company Profile on LinkedIn too!
Consider these common ways that professionals are using LinkedIn to find people and information they need:
- Many executives say they only keep a business card long enough to look up the person on LinkedIn and invite them to become part of their network. After that, they throw the card away.
- LinkedIn offers an effective way to prepare for an interview, meeting, or presentation by giving you a place to look up information about others who will be across the table from you. You look smarter when they realize you’ve taken the time to find out about them or their company.
- If you get a list of attendees at an upcoming conference or seminar, LinkedIn can help you identify those people whom you might want to seek out. The photo usually found in LinkedIn helps you recognize them in a crowd.
- LinkedIn is a great way to get more information about someone you’ve just met at a meeting, conference, or social gathering. Perusing their credentials and their connections can help you determine whether it makes sense to cultivate a relationship with them or not.
- LinkedIn can be very helpful in identifying people to be on a board, especially if you’re looking for someone with a particular area of expertise.
- Employers and HR professionals use LinkedIn to deepen their knowledge of a potential employee. They can also find potential employees with specific talents, skills, and experience by using LinkedIn’s search filters.
- Anyone can get free answers from experts to questions they ask using LinkedIn’s Q & A function.
- LinkedIn members can find others who share specific interests or areas of expertise by joining any of the thousands of free LinkedIn Groups. These can offer a more focused community for sharing and networking. Your should look for groups of alumnae or alumni from all the places you went to school and all the places you’ve worked in the past. You never know when the connections may come in handy.
The very best way to leverage your visibility on LinkedIn is to take the time to fill out your profile completely and keep it up to date. Linked in will let you know whether your profile is complete or which areas still need to be finished. Here are some profile-building tips to keep in mind:
- Use the most professional photo you have. If you’re in Job Search mode, it might be worth getting a professional photograph taken.
- Put every school and place of employment into your profile. There are searchers out there who may be looking for a mid-career finance major from the University of Kentucky to work in their new start-up bank in Frankfort. If you haven’t completed your own profile, they’ll never know that you might fit their search criteria perfectly!
- Give some thought to the keywords that searchers might use to find someone like you. Incorporate those words into the content of your profile, especially the Summary and the Specialties sections. If you want your name to pop up when someone is searching for a keynote speaker at their next fashion industry conference, be sure to include words they might use in their search: speaker, designer, fashion, clothing, sportswear, etc., depending on your particular areas of expertise.
Expanding your LinkedIn Network
LinkedIn’s Q &A Function
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