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LinkedIn - It Doesn't Have to be Complicated!

16 August 2012

When I work with clients who are going through a career transition, discussions always turn to whether it is worthwhile to create a LinkedIn profile to enhance their job search.  I always enthusiastically say, ‘Yes!”  LinkedIn is a professional networking site that enables members to interact with their connections, conduct research on companies, look for jobs advertised by other members and to find out who, within their network of connections, could potentially provide a link to a hiring manager in their target company. 

Creating the LinkedIn profile and knowing how to interact with your connections, isn’t always as easy as it seems.  First of all, this is not Facebook; it’s not for social banter.  This site is for professional networking.  The information you include in your profile, or what you omit from your profile, will affect your professional brand online.

This professional online network is a great place to showcase your achievements and build a network of professional contacts. However, as in all business situations, following the correct etiquette will ensure you present yourself in the most positive light.

Here are a few tips that will guide you as you decide what to include, what not to include and what to do with you profile once it’s complete:

What To Do:

Include a profile picture.  

As this is the first thing people notice when they visit your LinkedIn profile, take a professional looking photo that reflects what you represent.

Complete your profile. 

Add a career summary, your professional experience, a few significant accomplishments, website address, awards, memberships, etc.  You can also add sections to include the business books you are reading, promote events, highlight any articles in publications you have had published and also your blog.

Give and receive recommendations.  

Request endorsements from business contacts as this lend credibility to your profile.  If someone in a position of authority provides you with a recommendation, it strengthens your profile.  Remember to recommend others too. When you do, your name pops up on their profile and could encourage more interest in yours.

Join groups. 

LinkedIn allows you to connect with people who are in the same group as you are. Join groups that are relevant to your industry or job function.  Contribute to discussions to position yourself as one who is up to take with the latest tools, technology or methodology in your profession.

Post regular status updates.  

Post status updates on your area of expertise (don’t post your every move, post updates that will add value to your audience!) Updating your LinkedIn status positions you on the home page of your connections and reminds them of what you represent.  This is an excellent PR activity.

Use the ‘Answers’ section.

The Answers facility on LinkedIn gives you another opportunity to answer questions posted by other professionals and position yourself as a subject matter expert.  You can also post requests for information from those in your field – it’s a great way to conduct research.

Tailor your invitations to connect.

When inviting someone to connect, please personalise your message. It’s almost rude not to and is a sign of laziness to send a generic invitation.

Follow companies of interest.

Search for companies that are on your target list and click on ‘follow.’  You will then receive those company updates on your home page – new developments, when they are hiring, people on the move.

What Not To Do:

Don’t forget to check your spelling and grammar.

Just as you would proof read your resume before sending it out, ensure you proofread your profile before making it visible to all.

Don’t add people you don’t know.  

If you request a connection to a stranger you will devalue the real connections you have. Add only the people you truly have a real connection with.  Quantity is good but they have to be of quality to you.

Don’t bombard your connections. 

Avoid posting too many promotional comments in your status updates.  Several updates a day or daily updates may be seen as ‘spam.’  Posting an update that is of value to the reader once a week or so is enough. 

Enjoy updating your profile and conducting your research to enhance your job search activities – LinkedIn is a great resource so manage your online brand effectively!

Have a look at my public profile – you’ll see the additional sections and applications you can add to enhance your own profile too:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/janejackson 

Jane Jackson is a Career Management Coach and Author of Navigating Career Crossroads (#1 Amazon Australia best seller) Visit Jane at www.janejacksoncoach.com 

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