LinkedIn: more than a job-hunter’s paradise

career books on shelf

When it comes to LinkedIn, most of us think of it as social media beacon for job-hunters. Indeed, an infographic published by Business Insider states that almost 90% of job seekers have a profile on a social media site (“Infographic”). If you are looking for a job, clean up your Facebook and Twitter profile, build up your LinkedIn profile, and seek out more connections.

Of course, recruiters sometimes look for profiles, even when you aren’t looking for a job. Not interested, guys! But here’s some food for thought:

“Many potential recruits also use LinkedIn as a research tool. For instance, suppose a person had two good job offers. Which organization will be a better match for them? What will their new boss or colleagues be like? What is the corporate culture like? LinkedIn can help them to find out ” (“Using LinkedIn”).

Even if you are not looking for a job, LinkedIn can be useful to polish your professional image. As Liz Ryan of Business Week put it, “It showcases not only your name, photo, and professional credentials but also your colleagues’ recommendations, your brilliant thinking, and your excellent roster of connections” (“Ten Ways”).

In my case, I’ve used LinkedIn Groups to learn more about topics like higher education, knowledge management, web accessibility, and social media. I’ve read articles by people I follow, networked with women who graduated from my old high school, and I’ve featured my presentations in a way that (I hope) establishes my professional brand.

If you are just starting out on LinkedIn, there are many resources for you. Not all of them are available in LinkedIn, so if you really want to do a thorough job on your profile, I suggest first visiting these three sites:

  • Slideshare: If you have ever designed and presented a PowerPoint, Slideshare is a place to upload, share, and comment on your deck. You can upload a native PPT file or a PDF. At one time, LinkedIn had a nice app to integrate content from Slideshare, but now you simply add a link in one of your profile sections, such as Experience or Education. I was confused by this, since I expected something different when LinkedIn purchased Slideshare, but it is what it is.
  • Twitter: Some in the Twitterverse were disillusioned when Twitter made changes to its API. But never fear: you can share your thoughts to Twitter from LinkedIn. Like any social media site, there is a place for you to share a status, call out a friend, or attach a file. You can decide whether or not to share this status update with all of LinkedIn, only your Connections, or with LinkedIn + Twitter. That sure makes it easy to cover the professional bases when you want to publicize a conference or update colleagues on a new initiative.
  • WordPress: Blogging isn’t just for bands. By setting up a professional blog in WordPress, you can set up an automatic notification that informs your LinkedIn network of new posts. Better still, add a link to your blog in your status so that you can personalize the message around the blog.

You can keep going: add about.me, your website, your online portfolio…ah, you get the idea.

Inside of LinkedIn, there are many other ways to build expertise and share ideas:

  • Join an interest group. As I mentioned, I’ve joined several groups that relate to my professional interests. I’ve even joined groups for my outside interests, such as animal welfare. In some groups I’m a lurker, but in others, I like to participate by answering questions, following discussions, and “bookmarking” interesting topics. This has actually formed some of my professional development, as I’ve learned about new software and sites that I can use.But be careful: Liz Ryan cautions against inviting random people from your groups to join your network (“Ten Ways”). Take your time and get to know them a bit first. And it goes without saying that some groups can backfire when seen by a professional contact. I dropped out of the “Grammar Nazi” group because I didn’t like the sound of that group’s name.  But I kept “Grammar Geeks,” at least for the time being. Better a Geek than a Nazi, I guess.
  • Customize your home page. As the screen capture below illustrates, I like a lot of info on my home page. Your mileage may vary.

HOmePageThere are several other notifications that can be customized: you can receive emails to alert you to various actions, or you can view your group’s activity in a weekly digest. It all depends on your comfort level.

  • Follow influencers. I can’t get enough of Guy Kawasaki and Pete Cashmore, but that’s just me. To hear more from the people that interest you, hover your mouse over the word “Interests” at the top of your LinkedIn screen, and choose from scads of channels that are available to you. Then move to the next page, where you can follow individual influencers.If you don’t know who to follow, don’t worry. LinkedIn is getting to know you day by day, and it will keep suggesting people to you!

LinkedIn has something for everyone. If you were waiting for graduation to join, change your strategy and begin building your professional profile today.

Sources:

Business Insider (2011). INFOGRAPHIC: Can Facebook, Twitter And Linkedin Really Get You A Job?  http://www.businessinsider.com/infographic-facebook-twitter-and-linkedin-really-get-you-a-job-2011-12

Mindtools (n.d.) Using LinkedIn Effectivelyhttp://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/linkedin.htm

Ryan, L. (2010). Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn in Your Job Search
http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/jun2010/ca2010067_197297.htm

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