10 Nov Are You Using LinkedIn Effectively?
We’ve all done it. Logged in to LinkedIn, set up a profile, connected with some friends, old work colleagues maybe some family members and not returned for months or in some cases, years.
The most common responses I get from people when I ask them if they’re on LinkedIn are:
“Oh yeah I am, I have a profile but it’s not up to date and I haven’t been on there for years.”
“I used to be on LinkedIn but I didn’t see the point of it so I deleted my account.”
The whole premise behind LinkedIn is that it is a professional networking tool. But the thing is, if you are not using it to its full potential, it fails to be effective. That’s no fault of the tool itself, but of the user of the tool – that’s you and me.
So what exactly should you be doing on LinkedIn to make it work for you?
Firstly, you need to complete your profile. This is where many of us fall over at the first hurdle. There are a number of reasons for this. You might not have the time or lack motivation, or perhaps you don’t feel confident in marketing yourself or ‘blowing your own trumpet’. Privacy may be a concern as you worry everyone will be able to view your personal information. Another barrier to completing your LinkedIn profile might be that you have a portfolio career and are unsure how to position yourself as you have multiple careers operating in tandem.
Let’s get something clear. Without first dedicating the time to completing your LinkedIn profile, you will struggle to get the most out of LinkedIn and get ahead in your career. A good place to start in terms of inspiration is with your colleagues. It’s likely your current or previous co-workers have similar backgrounds, skills and experience to your own and you might glean some insight into how best to market yourself by looking at how well (or not so well!) they are marketing themselves.
The most important thing to remember is that your LinkedIn profile is not just a tool you can use to impress potential employers, it can also help you connect with fellow professionals and clients. It can also help you identify any skills and experience gaps that need addressing so in that sense, it’s a fantastic professional development tool too.
The second part of LinkedIn is to connect with past and present co-workers, colleagues, tutors, mentors, clients etc. to grow your network. Those you are connected to directly will be 1st degree connections, their connections will become your 2nd degree connections. By broadening your network you will expose yourself to a greater variety of professionals who may have the potential to help you in your career.
A word of warning though. It’s important to be aware of LinkedIn terms and conditions in that you should only send connection requests to those individuals you know personally. For example, you might attend a conference or webinar and ask if those you have met there are okay with connecting with you on LinkedIn.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly in regards to enriching your career is to identify and join Groups. You can easily search for groups to join by typing in some relevant key words in the search field and selecting Groups as the search criteria. If you are a psychologist for example, you’ll find thousands of groups across the globe whose focus are on various aspects of psychology from practitioner mentoring groups to groups that are set up to share ideas on particular psychology related issues.
As well as joining groups, you should make an effort to become actively involved. You can do this by posting discussion topics or participating in discussions that others’ have posted in your groups. This is a great way to network and make new connections which will in turn widen your professional network.
There is of course loads more I could say about LinkedIn but I hope you’ve found this brief overview helpful. Please feel free to comment in the comments section below if you have any questions or thoughts on what I’ve discussed here.
Lisa LaRue, MCareerDev, BSocSc(Couns&HumServ), DipCareerGuid, RCDP, MAC is a Career Coach and Career Development Consultant at CareerWorx with more than 18 years’ experience helping people plan and manage their careers.