With over 65 million members in over 200 countries (half are outside the U.S.), LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social networks available. The network adds a new member approximately every second with all Fortune 500 companies represented. Yet, I still find a large amount of professionals that do not have a profile on the site. 65 million people – there’s bound to be someone that has a job for you, a business opportunity for you, or simply just an idea to help you be more successful. Companies like Accenture (FORTUNE April 12, 2010) plan to make 40% of their hires through social media. According to Accenture and an increasing number of companies, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re nowhere.
So, let’s get started with a few basics. This list is not all-inclusive, but should help guide you to successfully navigate LinkedIn (including a few updating tips). Please feel free to add your insight in the comment section at the end.
Join (and participate in) groups. LinkedIn has a wide variety of professional interest groups. Find what interests you. There are local groups, groups for jobseekers, and groups on social media to name a few. Join a couple. Then, participate and add value to those groups. This builds credibility and visibility.
Connect with others in the industry. Seek out others who are professionals in your industry or the industry you’re interested in. Reach out and connect with them. On LinkedIn, you’re required to send an invitation to connect. Here’s a tip: don’t say you’re a friend, colleague, or coworker if you’re not. Be honest. Most accept invitations from just about anyone who is serious about networking. There’s even LinkedIn Answers where you can find answers to millions of common questions. You could even use this platform to offer your expertise and answer a few.
Reconnect with other networks. It’s all about the network. A university alumni association automatically comes to mind. Yes, they’re on LinkedIn. Reconnect with classmates and professors. Additionally, there is a growing amount of company alumni networks for former employees. Procter & Gamble, IBM, and Microsoft have a large following, keeping past and present employees engaged. The White House even has a network.
Add a picture. Joshua Waldman of Career Enlightenment said during a recent webinar on LinkedIn (paraphrasing): “think of adding a picture as completing your wardrobe. Would you want to be naked in front of 65 million people?” Adding a picture has it’s concerns, but at the end of the day, wouldn’t you want the recruiter to know as much about you as possible? That way, they have a better idea regarding your fit with the corporate culture.
Keep your profile updated. Treat your profile just as you would a résumé. It’s much more than just a résumé, though. Your profile captures your online presence, samples of your work, recommendations from former employers and colleagues and much more. Update this at least twice a year, whether or not you change jobs. If you do happen to change positions, definitely update it!
Go mobile. Are you reading this post on your Blackberry, iPhone, Palm, or Droid? If so, do you have LinkedIn? There’s an app for that! LinkedIn recently launched their mobile interface for Blackberry and iPhone. It’s still relatively limited to a few different models, but mobile is the way of the future. Think about it. We can do more with a device the size of a deck of cards today than we could with a supercomputer 10 years ago!
Connect it with Twitter. This is a pretty new function with LinkedIn. Now, the platform allows you to link your status update with Twitter. It lets you choose when you want to post to Twitter from LinkedIn. You can even tag your tweets with #in and update LinkedIn at the same time. Use this to maximize your personal brand.
Connect with me. I don’t claim to be an expert on social media. Just like most of you, I’m simply interested in this topic and wish to share my experiences with others who could benefit from the knowledge passed on. That being said, if you have a question, ask. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll do my best to get it for you! I would value connecting with each and every one of you that requests adding me to your network.
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Next week, I’ll be covering Facebook. Feel free to email or tweet me your suggestions and tips. I’ll be sure to credit you if the information is used in the article. Thanks in advance!