I’ve used LinkedIn for about 4 years, but most of the activity on it happened in the past 1 year. As people are getting more and more connected online, LinkedIn shows up as number one tool for searching for a job (the increase in unemployment rate probably helped), getting your professional network in one place and staying on top of your contacts’ latest moves. How to get the most out of LinkedIn? Here are some tips I’ve found useful if you want to get the most out of LinkedIn:
- Photo: Upload a professional looking personal photo. I know this is a no brainer but I still see some people with no avatar on their profile. I wouldn’t want to connect with faceless person, would you?
- Profile: Fill out your profile completely. Try to avoid copying and pasting from your resume. If you want to show up on search engines, make sure to use keywords that describe what you do and what you want to appear for on Google. List all companies you have worked for and all schools you have attended. You will grow your network faster if you do. Search Engine Optimization works on LinkedIn if you fill our your profile with selected keywords.
- Grow your Network. This one is the most important step. After your profile is complete, start growing your network. Connect with all contacts that you would like to from your existing contact list in Outlook or wherever you are keeping your contacts. Keep in mind that LinkedIn can act up sometimes during the upload. I hope they fix that issue soon. As you meet more people, check to see if they are on LinkedIn or periodically upload your contacts and see who you are missing. Networks take time to grow so be patient but at the end it’s worth it. It’s all about who you know, right? Just make sure you are connecting to people you actually know and want to be connected with.
- Groups: A great way to meet more people from your industry is to join groups on LinkedIn. There are thousands of groups in each industry. Find some that look interesting and ask to join. I have never been denied participation in any group, but I’ve mainly joined marketing and internet groups, which fits my profile. Be careful with how many groups you join as you may get bombarded with emails if you opt-in for the daily digest. You can choose weekly or turn off all emails. Groups are great way to meet more people, keep an eye on trends, post articles you’ve written, ask questions and respond to questions that you have expertise in. Please, make sure you provide some value to the group.
- Keep your status update fresh. If you are on Twitter, you can update your status from there. I use HootSuite to update all of my social networks.
- Recommendations: Recommend some people you have worked with and ask for some recommendations from people who know you well. Please, make sure you don’t always have the same recommendations written for you as the recommendations you have received. It looks way too cheesy.
- Applications: LinkedIn comes with some great third party applications that will help keep your network informed about your interests and activities and keep your profile fresh. For example, I use their SlideShare application to display my PowerPoint presentations that I have made available online, WordPress plug in to show my latest blog posts, Reading List on Amazon to display what I’m reading and my recommendations of that book, TripIt to show my trips to my network and see who’s close to me if I want to connect in person while on the trip.
What’s the value of LinkedIn? Personally, I have found it to be a great network to stay in touch with people I have worked with in the past and present who I may not necessary want to friend on Facebook. It keeps contacts up to date and it’s a valuable tool for putting people in touch with each other and letting your network know your latest activities. I have found people I need from my network. I have received recommendations on potential vendors and stayed in touch with people. The latest LinkedIn development is that now you can subscribe to company’s updates, making following a company look a lot more like your experience on Facebook.
LinkedIn is useful only if you use it right. What experience have you had with LinkedIn? Are you still using an old style paper resume or have you completely moved to using LinkedIn for it? Any other tips you’d like to add? What mistakes to avoid? See this post from Neal Schaffer. And finally, let me know if you want to connect with me on LinkedIn.