LinkedIn

Why Is LinkedIn A Must-Use Tool?

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Why is LinkedIn so important these days? As professionals or business owners, connections are key to our success.

Keeping up with our connections, both business and personal, are so important and I think even more difficult to do these days. There are so many online opportunities to connect that it is overwhelming.

In addition to that, the question may be, do we really get enough face time with our connections to make these relationships deeper? In all honesty, we all need both, online and offline connections to make a difference in our businesses or job searches.

For today, let’s focus on the online tools. We can discuss offline at other time.

When it comes to the online world, you need to be picky about which tools you spend your time on. Be as picky as what your weekend plans will be. Choose a tool that will give you the biggest bang for the time. Social media tools can be total time sucks, if we allow them to be.

In many ways we reconnect, and can now stay connected, with individuals that we would have never connected with 20 or even 10 years ago. These online tools connect us with other professionals who can promote our companies and consumers who can buy our products or services.

I am very picky about where I spend my time online and off. I have two school aged children and a husband with a very intense work schedule. I am a business owner that loves what I do and could do it all the time. I love my community and could volunteer in many areas. I am blessed with many options but with those options comes decisions.

Where do I spend my time?

In my humble opinion, for online connection tools, LinkedIn is near the top. It is a place to find and be found.

I tell all my clients if they are not on LinkedIn, they have to be and now. I work with young to mid-level professionals who are in a career transition or tactical job search. Even if they still have no idea of their job target I tell them to get on it and begin a profile today. I work with them to fine tune that profile. I give the same advice to fellow business owners or really anyone who provides a product or service.

There really are few audiences I think LinkedIn could not help.

So what does it take to get a good profile up on LinkedIn and searchable?

The key is searchable and content rich.

More and more individuals and recruiters are searching LinkedIn for future employees, providers, and partners. As job postings shrink more corporate recruiters are scouring LinkedIn for the right people.

There are a million, or it seems like that many, of articles telling you what mistakes to avoid etc. I agree with much of it. But let’s focus on getting started and the most important pieces to begin with.

1. Your Profile

Complete it. Be sure to look at it from the perspective of, “How am I presenting myself to others?” Always keep in mind the value proposition you bring. Ensure the readers know who you are and what you are all about professionally.

2. Professional Headline

Know what it is and use it to your advantage. The professional headline is the field below your name. This field is longer than you think. Most individuals enter a simple job title but this, many times, is not descriptive enough.

This field is shown whenever another user mouses over your photo. Your name and professional headline show in a pop-up. In some parts of LinkedIn, the pop-up has your name, professional headline, geographic area, and current job title.

3. Website Link

Change the “My Website / My Company” links to be specific. You can edit these fields within your profile. When you edit, use the option of “other” then enter the text you want to display on your profile.

I suggest entering the name of your company and have it link to the part of the website you want people to go to. I have my link going to the home page of my website. It is the best place for people to start and to discover more about my business and what I specialize in.

4. Make Your Profile Public

In the privacy settings, be sure to set your profile to public. It makes it much easier for people to find you and utilize your services or reach out to you for a job opportunity. The more you allow people to view your profile the more likely you will be contacted.

Also be sure to change the default URL of your profile to your name. This is a great tool when you add a link to your profile on marketing documents.

5. Status Updates And Tweets

Once you are up and going on LinkedIn be sure to utilize the status updates.

Promote your business, articles you have written, an event you are attending or presenting at, etc. If you are not posting status updates somewhat regularly you will be viewed as an inactive LinkedIn member. Not good. But on the other hand, posting all your Tweets or doing daily updates is over-kill. The rule of thumb here is, keep it professional and balanced.

6. Recommendations

Do not be afraid to ask for and give recommendations. They build your credibility. An easy way of breaking into this area is to be generous yourself. Give a few authentic recommendations for your colleagues.  Many times the favor is quickly and easily returned.

There you have it, six quick ways to get yourself up and utilizing LinkedIn as a business building or job attraction tool. Make it a regular practice to get on LinkedIn as least once a week for an hour. Stay active and continue to build your network. You will be glad you put in the time.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Lisa Adams

Lisa Adams, founder of Fresh Air Careers, is a certified career management coach and job search strategist, specializing in helping young professionals transition.

14 comments

  1. LinkedIn is a waste of time. I am unemployed and thought that it would a great source to help me, after all, isn’t that the purpose of the site – to network? I applied to 500 jobs and received approx. 8 replies. Never once did I get a job inquiry from a recruiter. My so called connections, rarely replied to any of my requests for intorudctions at companies which I applied to. And 95% of comments posted by others did not have even one comment or reply.

    LinkedIn will soon go the way of Facebook is going, with more subscribers spending less time on it with a decrease in their subscriber base.

    The above characteristics are not endemic just to me. Two of my friends ate also unemployed and had virtually the same results.

    I canceled and closed my LinkedIn account a few days ago and have absolutely no plans on creating a new account anytime soon. When employers lurk in the background d and view your profile, this dramatically decreases your chance of getting a call for an interview. If I apply now to a job, they can judge me by my resume and call me if they are interested instead of looking at a profile and simply discounting me as a prospect because I don’t have a headshot.

    BTW – don’t even get me started on the software and robots that now read resumes instead of a real person. But that is a rant for another day.

    • Slider,

      The key to using LinkedIn is not to answer ads but to be networked with the right people.

      I’m an executive recruiter (www.hsstaffing.com). Last Thursday I secured a new client. I received the job description and contract just before I was leaving the office to teach at a local technical school. I got home and around 10 PM contacted the relevant people in my LinkedIn network. Within 30 minutes I heard two resumes (good resumes!) and by Friday morning I had set up 5 interviews for today, Monday, and one for tomorrow.

      That’s how you use LinkedIn.

      If you are in Manhattan on Thursday, I’m speaking at a Career Expo on using LinkedIn to find a job. You can get the details on my website.

      • “My so called connections, rarely replied to any of my requests for introductions at companies which I applied to. And 95% of comments posted by others did not have even one comment or reply”.

        I appreciate the invite, and certainly would like to attend, but I am now Mr Mom and don’t have anyone to watch my kids (twins). Plus, I think I am not the kind of guy you want in the audience given my dislike for LinkedIn. The other attendees might string me up for talking against the mainstream.

        • @Slider, I’m going to be blunt not to be mean, but because I think you could use it.

          Perhaps it’s time to do a little introspection. First, no one is going to chastise you for talking against the mainstream; in history, that’s how great things have been achieved. They will, however, chastise you for being negative, lazy, and/or feeling entitled. No one owes you or your friends a response, interview, or connection. You have to bring something to the table first. Build a network and get jobs by earning them. Blindly making connections and applying to jobs doesn’t do anything for you. Companies like to know that you actually did some homework, that you want to work for THEM and not just anybody. There are tons of books and blog posts out there to help you on this. I suggest “The Startup of You” and “Go Givers Sell More”

          Second, how would having a well executed LinkedIn profile be any worse than sending out a crappy resume to 500 people? If you can’t fill out a decent profile, then yeah, you probably don’t belong on LinkedIn. Times have changed. Life is going digital. Update or become obsolete.

          Lastly, networking is not something you do when you need something, it’s what you do in case you ever need something. There’s a big difference. Establish relationships, cultivate them, and be a genuine person. Very few people respond to favor requests blindly, especially if their reputation is on the line.

          I could go on and on, but I’m guessing my time is better spent providing advice to those who find the value in personal branding and want to put a significant amount of effort towards their careers. If you do want some actual help, just let me know. I can point you in the direction of many resources.

          Best of luck.

  2. Paolo De Fabritiis

    Fully agree with your recommendations , and i would like to stimulate the discussion about the future of professional networks..”do you think is there space for a “community specialization” to go deeper in networking and knowledge of the members?”

  3. Thanks for the article, Lisa.

    I agree today a LinkedIn profile makes a lot of impact in you hiring as LinkedIn has become a tool to advertise oneself to MILLIONS of hiring managers. 80% of employers use LinkedIn as a networking tool to find the best candidates.

  4. Leslie-Anne McKenzie

    I am on LinkedIn and recently I recieved an invite from someone who only listed his first name and an initial. This person is in the field I am interested in getting into, however, I am concerned as to the level of professionalism on this invite. I wonder what the reason is (and only he could answer this) he sends out his information without his last name?

    It is a useful tool to see what companies I may target for research/informational interviews but as a connection to possible leads, I am not sold quite yet.

    • The first name and initial may only appear on the invitation. I know because when I set up my second account, in order not to get confused between the two, I used my middle initial. My full name was on the actual profile. I then changed the name from Bruce A. Hurwitz to Bruce Hurwitz (2) because I did not like the idea that my last name did not appear on invitations. In other words, don’t worry about the way the name appears on the invitation, check the profile.

  5. I don’t have 30K first-degree contacts, I’m more of a ‘digital hermit’, but I’d be interested in trying to network with more people, primarily out of some self-interest, namely the basic fact that I need a job.

    But, I’m really interested in resources that’ll let you put yourself out there ONCE, basically a hotlink to the old CV, and those curious/inclined can click on the link, and avail themselves of that information. The last several months of job hunting have been this onerous process of filling out web page forms, over, and over, and over again, with basically the same information set. It’s enough to give you carpal tunnel, tunnel vision, and an ulcer.

    Why can’t we/”they” figure out this whole data entry/submission thing to promote some general grief management, maybe there’s enough people IN management that have enough experience in the hiring/evaluation process to develop the generally desired dataset that they need applicants to provide, to put a higher polish on the old resume development/submission process, there. I know, I know, I’m just one of the 8 million monkeys sitting at my electronic typewriter, hoping to write the full-time employment sonnet, but hey, even monkeys get tired…

    • Bert,

      In addition to being a career counseling, I’m an advisor with Purzue.com. It’s a multi-media resume portal that, I think, is what you are looking for. You don’t have to do any of the mult-media stuff. You can just create an on-line “paper” resume. If you go to the site and enter the promo code BRUCE4PURZUE you will get a free trial.

      Good luck and feel free to contact me directly if you need more assistance.

  6. Thursday late afternoon I received a contract to fill a marketing position. I had, this was a month ago, 31,000 first degree contacts on LinkedIn. (Since you can only have 30,000 first degree contacts on a LinkedIn account, I now have two.) The search was in Manhattan. Thursday evening I sent a message to all of my “marketing and advertising” contacts in “Greater New York.” Friday morning I had 10 resumes. Friday I spoke with all of them and invited six for an interview. The interviews were Monday and Tuesday. Tuesday I submitted three candidates. Of those three one was hired. And that’s why a profile on LinkedIn, and as many first degree contacts as possible, is so important. The candidate who was hired was not one of my first degree contacts. She was recommended by one of my first degree contacts.

      • Greetings, Mr. Hurwitz!

        I am interested that you said, “… I didn’t read any of the profiles on my contacts. All I cared about was their “Industry” and Location.”

        Hmmm… perhaps I’m missing something, but I thought our focus was to make our profile stand out from the crowd because employers, recruiters, headhunters, et. al. were using them to determine which candidates would make the cut for an interview or initial contact. Now, you are (seem to be) saying that numbers of first-degree contacts with a profile is more important than the content of the profile.

        I admit to being new to the whole business of purposefully working my LinkedIn profile and exercising a systematic massage of my online, career profile, but this almost sounds like a high volume of first-degree contacts will propel me to consideration before the content of my profile.

        Mr. Hurwitz, could you please explain? I am anxious to get it right!

        Thank you!

        • Dave,

          Think of your profile as your clothes. You wake up and it’s hot and humid out and you want to wear shorts and a T-shirt to the office. But you don’t. Why? Because you know that if you do a major prospect will knock on your door, you’ll look like a fool, and you’ll lose the deal. So you put on the suit and tie and, of course, no one shows up.

          It’s the same thing with your profile. In case someone actually looks at it, it has to be complete and professional.

          But now consider things from the recruiter’s perspective. If I had read each of the profiles of the individuals whom I had contacted about the marketing position, how long would it have taken me? If I remember correctly, I send a message about the search to approximately 320 contacts. Figure 2 minutes to read a profile and 1 minute to find it; that’s 960 minutes or 16 hours. Why would I spend 16 hours on sending out messages? Makes no sense when I can do it in a fraction of the time. And why would I not want to contact someone just because their profile may not be the best? For example, the candidate that I submitted who got the position was recommended to me by a sales rep for a printing company. If I had just sent to those individuals with stellar profiles, I would not have found the candidate in less than 12 hours.

          For me, the first purpose of LinkedIn is, first and foremost, to network. When networking I do not judge the quality of profiles. And, speed is of the essence when closing searches.

          I hope this answers your question.

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