In the past few weeks, I have been in conversation with plenty of folks about LinkedIn. Many of the questions I’ve fielded include: “Now that I have my profile what do I do with it?” Another question I hear often is: “Isn’t LinkedIn just a place to post your online resume?” Importantly, LinkedIn is not a storage house for online resumes. Also, these questions speak to how LinkedIn is a different social media animal than say Facebook or Twitter, I wanted to share a few things that I know and hope that helps people more effectively utilize the medium in productive ways. The remainder of this post assumes that you have set up your profile and you are interested in Taking Your LinkedIn Profile to the Next Level.
A unique component of LinkedIn is it provides a way to feature recommendations from previous and current busiess associates. Recommendations can be a great way to illustrate to future business associates considering connecting with you what you have contributed to the professional development and growth of other businesses. Also, providing a LinkedIn recommendation can be a very functional “Thank You,” and can operate in such as way that others might feel compelled to write one for you once you have written for someone else.
Compelling Summary Statement
A Compelling Summary Statement is frequently overlooked in the overall development of the profile. This is the place where you identify your strenghts, professional passion, contributions, and your personality. Often, when I review profiles from those sending connection requets, a Compelling Summary Statement can make all the difference becaue a really good one provides some insight into who the person is and what they have to offer. If it does not cover those points, then I may think twice about the connection request.
Make Professional Connections
What makes LinkedIn unlike Facebook or Twitter (in many instances) is that it is the “professionals” social media network. LinkedIn’s creater have maintained this position and I appreciate their effort in doing so; therefore, I encourage you to connect with other professionals in your field or the industry you desire to break into. One strategy to do this is to review the network connections of another and connect with individuals there.
Create Engagement Opportunities
Once you connect with others, the next important thing you can do is engage with them in some way. Don’t be a deadbeat LinkedIn user, send an email, thank them for accpeting your connection request and begin the dialogue from there. I recently used LinkedIn for just this purpose: I was interested in applying to a community leadership development program and I searched LinkedIn for program participants. After finding a few individuals, I sent them invitation requests and began enaging them via email about their experiences in the program. I even met a few individuals for coffee offline. This is an example of how LinkedIn can be very useful and functional.
There are a number of really useful applications that you can integrate into your LinkedIn profile to continue highlighting your professional endeavors across the web. For example, you can add a Twitter account as well as your blog feed. These applications illustrate the you are a regular LinkedIn user that keeps their content fresh and current. An application I am a big fan of (especially for students or employment seekers) is SlideShare. For students this is a great way to highlight your presentation development skills, as well as your previous work projects. For employment seekers, SlideShare provides an opportunity to show future employers what you have done previously or significant attributes you bring to your next career post.
LinkedIn, like any other social communication network is only as useful as the user makes it. So, now that you have your profile set up are you taking it to the next level or allowing it to sit and be static? Let me know what you’re doing to make LinkedIn work for you.