An Introduction to Using LinkedIn Effectively

Having spent my late teens and early 20’s growing up within the immergence of social media, I thought I would share some of my experiences in terms of using LinkedIn as part of my process for searching out and seeking career opportunities. This will be just as relevant for people looking to promote their skills and talents when looking for their first job as it is with people wanting to move on to bigger and better opportunities on the career ladder.

The recruitment process is two way, as much as they’re evaluating how well you will be able to perform a job, you also need to be asking yourself whether their company culture, or indeed the job in question is right for you.

Linked In

Linked In is usually the place I recommend people start with. Although it is caught within the umbrella terminology of “social networking”, it’s actually probably the least socially applicable network of people of all the other big social players.

A Linked In profile is not a particularly personable place, however its intentions are to allow people to cover and talk about individual’s essential business skills, experience and employment history, and is rather like a digital CV or Resume in that sense.

Get a professional profile photo

Simply because LinkedIn falls under the category of a social network, does not mean that this is a ‘casual’ network. If you’re using the same photograph that you commonly use across other profiles such as Facebook or Twitter, then you may be making the mistake of using a photograph that isn’t professional.

There’s a lot of benefit in having a corporate headshot, amongst looking the part, an experienced photographer will be able to help you communicate personality traits or characteristics that are otherwise also desirable in someone who is going to be required to fit in with a new team. A professional photograph will convey your likable qualities and allow others to connect your experience and abilities to a face.

Know your game plan and strategise accordingly

There are two core strategies you want to be adopting on LinkedIn.

Firstly communicate what drives and motivates you in terms of your professional skills and career aspirations. Complete your profile; make it clear, succinct and insightful. List your skills and expertise and prioritise the order in which you arrange and display them, as this will convey what you yourself find most interesting or challenging and what appeals most to you.

Don’t neglect or skimp on detail. Fill in your interests, if you cannot convey that you’re a likable or interesting person that will fit into a role, why would someone hire you? Technical competence or proficiency in skills and abilities alone are not enough.

Secondly use this as a tool for making yourself known with other potential employers. If you know the names of the key influential people, you can perform a search on LinkedIn that will hopefully return their profile. These people may head up human resources in public sector organisations, team managers, CEOs or business owners. You can then start to gauge what makes these people tick, and what they are in turn going to be looking for in a potential employee.

The recruitment process is two way, as much as they’re evaluating how well you will be able to perform a job, you also need to be asking yourself whether their company culture, or indeed the job in question is right for you.

Even if a company is not yet looking to employ somebody, you at least benefit from the visibility and exposure your may receive by simply being on their radar, seen to be being keen and interested in what they do. As well as connecting with people, you can also be following company pages. This will mean that your name potentially shows up within a weekly or monthly activity report that measures number of a new followers.

 

Connect your online tools and services together

If you’re using other social tools and services or even own a website then you can be linking out to these other places from this central professional hub. These interconnected services will allow prospective employers to gather a bigger picture of who you are beyond the bravado and elevator pitches they might otherwise encounter in such places as your covering letter.

If you’re on Twitter, you may wish to integrate this service with LinkedIn so that your tweets become your LinkedIn status. Like other status updates on other networks, this will appear at the top of your profile and can be used to add more current information, is there a particular project you’re working on, are you learning to do something new for example? Don’t fill this with irrelevant mundane information, it is possible to be selective as to what you also publish here.

You have three available slots for listing websites, and I recommend you use all three where possible. You may have an online portfolio of work, run or own a topical blog or have a website, which may either be used for professional purposes, or simply a hobby or interest. If you’re currently employed, it will benefit you by having your employers website listed so others can quickly gauge who you’re currently creating value for.

Seek out professional endorsements

LinkedIn allows you to request short testimonial style recommendations that can be displayed on your profile next to either a place of education attended or employment. Starting out you may wish to request recommendations or character references from course leaders or lecturers, if you’re currently in work then this may be your department head or boss.

Follow this advice and you will be well on course for getting the most out of your online LinkedIn presence and the inherent benefits it offers individuals looking to find opportunity and grow professionally.

David Beastall writes on behalf of Exponential Training and Assessment Ltd who provides online courses and qualifications in leadership and management.

 

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  • Jason Rieckewald-Schmidt

    This is really helpful. I just started a business and got on Linked In for the first time in 3 years.

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