Why you should use LinkedIn (if you aren’t already)

linkedin2.gifToday’s New York Times article about LinkedIn.com is yet another indication that membership in this professional networking site (note: basic membership is free) is now essential for any career-minded professional. The article announces that LinkedIn just raised $53 million in capital, ensuring that it will grow even larger and more robust.

Wanting to know more about LinkedIn’s features and benefits, I recently took a tour of the site with Krista Canfield, PR manager at LinkedIn. Here are the top activities she recommends for young professionals to get the maximum benefit from membership in the site:

1. Study people you admire. Want to eventually be a chief marketing officer someday? Look at the profiles of current CMOs and see how they got there, what they studied, what skills they developed, where they’ve worked, what groups they belong to and to whom they’re connected.

2 . Tailor your profile to look similar to the people whose careers you want. Once you research those people you admire, work on tailoring your profile to be similar to theirs. LinkedIn is like having a bottomless stack of resumes to look through for great ideas on formatting, key words and language.

3. Research people you are scheduled to meet. Whether for a job interview, a client meeting or a networking get-together, use LinkedIn to learn about the background and interests of people before you meet them face-to-face. (It’s not stalking if the person has posted his or her information on a public website!)

4. Ask for advice and give advice. LinkedIn’s “Answers” feature is a great place to seek advice from a wide variety of people all around the world. You can also show the world what you have to offer by answering people’s questions about a topic where you have some expertise. Asking and answering questions is also a way to build your online visibility. The more active you are in forums like Answers, the more people will come across your profile and want to connect with you.

5. If you want to increase your Google-ability, set your profile as public and choose a vanity URL. Making your profile public allows you to be discovered through web searches in a way that you control. Your vanity URL (www.linkedin.com/in/yourname) allows you to easily promote your LinkedIn profile. I’ve noticed people including their LinkedIn URLs in their email signatures and even on business cards.

If you’re interested in more information and tips about making the most of LinkedIn, check out the resources listed in my blog post “Yes, people really get jobs through social networking,” the book I co-authored with Diane K. Danielson, The Savvy Gal’s Guide to Online Networking (Or, What Would Jane Austen Do?) and Jason Alba’s helpful book, I’m on LinkedIn…Now What?

Comments

  1. says

    This is great advice. Many people create a profile on LinkedIn and then flounder because they don’t know what to do! When used properly, LinkedIn is a great resource and professional networking tool.

  2. says

    @ Erika – Thanks so much for the comment. I think that happens with a lot of tools — people know that they are supposed to use them, but they don’t really know how. Please connect with me on LinkedIn if we aren’t linked already!

    – Lindsey

  3. Emily says

    Hi, Lindsey. It’s been a while since my last comment though I come here often.

    I would join LinkedIn but the problem is….well LinkedIn is boring. A typical social network user like me would not last long there when there’s no photos to post or music to upload. And above all, users can’t customize their front page ala MySpace so they’re forced to look at the same page over and over.

    Nevertheless, I would like to try to join LinkedIn. Who knows what opportunities might come up?

    Bye,

    Emily.

  4. says

    @ Emily – Thanks for being a regular reader! LinkedIn is definitely different from MySpace. The “fun” of it is researching career options, connecting professionally and have a forum to discuss career issues and get your questions answered. I hope you’ll try it and see if you enjoy the professional benefits.

    – Lindsey

  5. Randy says

    Reading one of the comments above has triggered enough emotion to move me to action.

    I really hope those people looking for facebook like social networking will stick to facebook or myspace… and avoid Linkedin…

    The real advantage and underlying magic of Linkedin is being able to get actual links. If you only build links to people you know and can approach for references or referrals, you have a network. If the LIONs (Linked In Open Networkers) continue to polute the space with links to everyone and anyone… the site will become less useful. If Linkedin users want to be connected to everyone… Join all the groups…. but PLEASE don’t build links that have no meaning or business use.

    Please keep the social on a social networks and let’s reclass linkedin as a professional network.

    There… I feel better…

  6. says

    @Randy – Thanks for your comment, I appreciate your perspective. I’ve found that people stick to professional networking on LinkedIn, and I just un-link from anyone who seems to abuse it. Have you had a lot of frustrating experiences with other users?

    I do take issue with one of your comments. I think social links can grow into links with “meaning” or “business use.” We never know how relationships and business needs will evolve. What do you think?

    Lindsey

  7. says

    Lindsey,

    After months of reading your blog I am finally using LinkedIn properly. When I created my profile it wasn’t very useful because it was incomplete; but now that I’ve filled everything out, it has been great. My only issue with it is that I feel awkward when I run a search and in order to add someone to my network I have to be introduced by our ‘link’ who is often a former employer or someone that I’m not really close to. Does the person doing the introduction read the message I’m sending their contact? What’s the best approach in this situation? I ran a search for you because I read this blog regularly and we have three mutual connections, but the person I feel most comfortable connecting through has already been the link to two other people this week and I don’t want her to think I’m just randomly going through her contacts.

  8. says

    @Saira – Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you are enjoying LinkedIn. I agree that filling out a complete profile is an essential first step. When it comes to asking for connections, you are right to be cautious. I would not reach out to someone too many times to forward introductions – maybe once a month or so.

    To connect in other ways, you may try reaching out to people by joining the same groups (which gives you access to connect with people) or seeing if they’ve asked any questions that you can answer in the Answers area of the website.

    Beyond that, if you are really eager to connect to many people you don’t know (and you feel that the connections would truly be mutually beneficial), then you might want to upgrade to the paid service, which allows you to email people directly.

    Good luck!

    Lindsey

Trackbacks

  1. […] Why you should use LinkedIn (if you aren’t already)Today’s New York Times article about LinkedIn.com is yet another indication that membership in this professional networking site (note: basic membership is free) is now essential for any career-minded professional. …Lindsey Pollak Career Blog – http://lindseypollak.com […]

  2. […] 4. Join LinkedIn and use it every day. Many recruiters, headhunters, small business owners and corporate hiring managers are now recruiting solely through LinkedIn, so make sure you are taking advantage of every aspect of this social networking site. For many tips on how to stand out and get a job through social networking, check out my post on making the most of LinkedIn. […]

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