LinkedIn is the premier business networking site for job seekers at all levels and all ages
There are some things newbies need to know about LinkedIn, though, before it will be valuable as a job search tool.
In fact, whatever you’re using LinkedIn for, you should follow these 10 tips.
1. Put up a photo. What do you think on LinkedIn if you see someone without a photo? Well, I think they have something to hide, or they just aren’t a very experienced LinkedIn user. Either way, there is nothing good about not having a photo. Women often get weird about this, citing stalkers, etc. But, realistically, no one has ever been stalked through LinkedIn. My wife, in fact, has her photo, e-mail address and company phone number on her profile (all good things to have), and has never had any problems at all. And, yes, she is much, much better looking than I am.
2. Join about 45 groups. You’re allowed up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. Join almost that many. By joining 45, you still have “room” for another interesting group. Groups are how you get things done on LinkedIn. I’m always amazed when someone just has one or two groups, or, even worse, no groups. By joining groups people can get to know you and your business.
By the way, please feel free to join my groups, “Getting Employed,” for job seekers anywhere at any level, and “Spirituality in Business” for those who value a business model that incorporates spirituality. Be aware I require photos on the profiles to join my groups.
3. Post discussions on groups. What’s the use of belonging to groups if you’re not out there as an influencer? None, really. Don’t be a vapid bystander. Participate! Post discussions on your groups on a regular basis.
But be careful. Make the discussion to be something of actual interest to the group. Posting a link to your website to sell something or, even worse, a sleazy video like one person did in a discussion I following, will just make people avoid you like the plague. Post articles (that aren’t self serving), announcements, real events (not promoting or selling your product or service), requests for real advice, and discussions about a topic relevant to the group. Again, no selling!
4. Participate in threads. If you’re just a poster and not a participant, it will become clear you are just in it to promote yourself, rather than be a fully participating member of the LinkedIn community. Participate in threads with useful remarks. Again, no selling! And no “trolling,” either! If you must make political comments, be polite. Don’t attack people. I’m not saying to weasel your words. I am saying to be civil. If you participate in threads, follow the same rules as above. Be useful, not self-promoting.
5. Let it be known you are an open networker. There are two philosophies on LinkedIn. One is more effective than the other. The first, and, in my opinion, completely lame philosophy is you only connect with people you know well. That is LinkedIn’s official philosophy, although they really speak with a forked tongue on this one. This will keep your connections pretty low, and will not build your network.
The other philosophy — the one to which I subscribe — is to accept all or almost all connection requests, at least from individuals. I don’t really like connecting with companies, and I am cautious about connecting with someone without a photo (because it could be a fake profile).
The second philosophy will build your network much more rapidly. Here’s the deal. You may have no interest in networking with the individual who invites you. But you might have an interest in someone in his or her network. Connecting gives you access to that network. The more connections, the more likely it is that someone you want to meet will be “in network.” This makes your life on LinkedIn much easier.
I see LinkedIn as a very large networking party. Now, at a networking party you don’t just go up to people you know and talk to them. Or, if you do, you’re a lousy networker. So why should I only talk to people I already know. LinkedIn has helped me meet some great new friends, business associates, and networking partners. I’ve gotten clients through LinkedIn. I’ve contacted hiring authorities for my clients through LinkedIn. And I’ve gotten an opportunity to meet very interesting and dynamic people through LinkedIn. All of this is because I’ve ignored the bovine effluvium that says I should only connect with people I know well! Connect and be an open networker.
6. Get recommendations… lots of them. Recommendations are essential to you. Seek them proactively and seek them passively. Proactive recommendation seeking involves reaching out and asking someone to recommend you. Passive recommendation seeking involves recommending someone, at which point LinkedIn asks them to recommend you back. The latter is actually a bit more effective.
7. Accept everyone, but invite strategically. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to build your business in a particular city? Then invite people from that city for the most part. Are you trying to go international? Make sure you invite people who can help you internationally. Don’t just invite everyone who pops up on “people you may know.” Invite to build your network the way you want to build it.
8. Diversify your contacts. I noticed a while back my contact list was looking pretty homogeneous. Almost everyone in there was white, 50-ish, and male. So, in my inviting, I have made it a goal to invite women, people of color and younger people. Part of the problem is, of course, that LinkedIn itself is predominately middle aged, white and male. But there are plenty of others if you look. And you should look. And, of course, feel free to invite me. I accept all invitations from individuals (not companies or fake profiles).
9. Use your network. While I really don’t like my network selling their products or services to me, I am fine with announcements or questions. I make it a point to answer every question I get through LinkedIn (or from my readers of my columns). If you have a question that needs asking — ask the network. If you have something stupendous — share it with your network. You will get to be known this way and people will naturally come to you for many different needs.
10. Update regularly. If you go to your home screen, you can see a place to update your network. Use it frequently. It is like a tweet, but it goes to LinkedIn. You can also tweet your update if you wish. Also update your profile frequently. Your job and needs are changing. Don’t keep the same stuff in your profile. Update all of the time.
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