As with all relationships, you get out of LinkedIn what you put in. If you leave it with little attention and information, you’re missing out on its full potential.
I’ve spent the past few months trying to convince my flatmate to join the social network for professionals. It may not inspire the next blockbuster film so why do I think it’s so important that she joins?
For PR students and professionals, in fact most students and professionals, LinkedIn can provide a fantastic resource for jobs, industry news, maintaining your contacts and references and of course adds to your online ‘brand’ or ‘shadow’.
Launched in 2003, the site has changed and grown rapidly. It now has more than 200 million users and 2.6 million company pages: a wide network for you to mix with. Many of you may have seen people discussing the recent emails informing people of their status within the user network. Several took to sharing the good news that they were in the top 1, 5 or 10% but several others took to complaining about the obvious publicity ploy.
Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for business
I know of a few people who use it for friends instead of Facebook but the primary use for LinkedIn is business.
It provides a much more detailed portrait of you than a CV ever could. Not only does it describe your experience, it displays recommendations, skill-sets, awards, certifications, connections, voluntary causes and can link to your website, Twitter feed, blog and portfolio. It can quickly provide employers with everything they need to know when interviewing you.
Like many others, Felicity Knights, Director of PR and Communications at Merchant uses the network to help her in the hiring process.
“Imagine how difficult it would be to hire if all we had to go on was Facebook or a list of tweets? And when checking someone’s qualifications, if I find reason to believe a bit of poetic licence has been used, it is easy to verify by checking his or her links. I usually find someone I can corroborate the individual’s experience with.”
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for finding like-minded people, joining debates and growing your knowledge of the industry, particularly with topical discussions. You can share newsworthy industry articles and research, and the site itself will recommend articles it thinks you may be interested in. That’s a great way to get on other professionals’ radars as well.
Unlike the ‘stranger danger’ associated with Facebook and your personal information you share, LinkedIn works best when you grow your network. Bruce Hurwitz, an American CEO makes a valid point when he says: “If you only accept invitations from people you know, why use LinkedIn? Outlook will suffice!” When your network is built up, you may find that you get recruiters emailing you new jobs each day – great if you’re looking, tedious if you’re not, but it never hurt to keep an eye on what’s on offer.”
And it’s not just yourself you can ‘brand’ through LinkedIn; companies also tend to use it as a part of their online portfolio. They build up followers and directly advertise vacancies within their teams or, with the new company pages, they can maintain B2B sales, share news updates, keep in contact with clients and showcase their work and employees.
Fleurie Forbes-Martin joined Linked-In and is now loving it.
“It’s nice to have a different kind of presence online where I am my professional self. I suppose Twitter started out that way but it quickly becomes a place where I can also follow the latest X Factor trends!”
Here are few LinkedIn tips:
- DON’T LIE! You’ll get found out.
- Profile Picture – keep it professional, not the latest one from the student union.
- Spellcheck – don’t embarrass yourself with silly errors.