I have spoken to many individuals about the value of LinkedIn as a networking tool, a communication tool, an educational tool, and a marketing tool. Bottom line is that if you are marketing (yourself, your company, or some type of product or service — that covers everybody I know) then LinkedIn is a tool you need to learn how to use.
Be 100% Complete
If you are not 100% complete with your profile you’re not getting all you can out of this fabulous ‘social’ media. To know whether you are all you have to do is go into edit profile and towards the top right-hand corner of the page it tells you how complete you are. Two common items that might be holding you back are recommendations (you need 3) and a photo (professional head shot rather than a mug shot would be ideal). The latter is inexcusable, the former can be a bit more uncomfortable (many of us are afraid to request a recommendation as it might not be as glowing as we’d like).
I just don’t understand why a person does not include a photo with their profile. This is a professional networking site and a great opportunity to make a positive impression. Many times I review who is looking at my profile and the name of the viewer is present, but no photo. If you are not going to be totally anonymous, show me your face. And, if it is because you don’t like any photos you have of yourself then go and spend a few hundred dollars for a professional head shot.
Many times it can be uncomfortable for people to ask others to write a recommendation, something I truly understand. One way to overcome this is to write an unsolicited recommendation for someone you think has done a great job (and it does not have to be on their job, but could be as a teacher, a volunteer, or any other way you might know them). In return, that individual might be willing to do the same for you. Or someone who (it could be a trusted friend) to write something about you as a community volunteer. All you need is 3 of them to complete this task.
The Online Resume
Your LinkedIn profile can be the most thorough resume you ever put together so make sure you do a great job with it. Keep it as current as you can, review the contents for accuracy, make updates to it (it then notifies your connections which makes it a nice marketing tool), read the articles it posts to your home page, skim the people you may know section (you never know when someone you know might join), and look at the job postings (the perfect one is not always going to be on Craig’s List).
Using LinkedIn well will absolutely help you — it has certainly done so for me (happy to share my stories with you). If you are not going to use it well then don’t use it at all. If you are ever in the job market you can be sure that recruiters and HR people will be looking over your online presence.
Effective networking is critical. LinkedIn is a fabulous tool if you want to effectively grow your network and open more doors.
Marc(keting) — Why Not!