by Africa Hands, Head Editor, INALJ Kentucky
Let’s really get LinkedIn
If you’re like many people, you received an invitation to join LinkedIn years ago when it first launched and just ignored the invite. Then you received another invitation a couple months or years later, and thought, “What the heck, I’ll join.” So you “joined” LinkedIn, but you didn’t really do anything beyond that. You created an account, maybe even added some jobs and your educational background, and left it lingering in cyberspace. Now you’re in the market for a new job or pursuing other interests and you really, really need to make connections. You’re ready to get back on board with LinkedIn, ready to become a part of the LinkedIn community of over 200 million users in over 200 countries. Great! You can do it and my “LinkedIn in Ten” tips will help you. Here are three tips to get you started. More to come in future posts.
Strike the right pose
I’ve spoken before about creating a professional LinkedIn profile. Nevertheless, this bears repeating because I still see cropped, shadowy, unprofessional photos on LinkedIn. Uploading your photo is a must and it must be appropriate and professional. It really is as simple as standing in front of a nice background and having a friend take a few pictures of you. I emphasize your photo because the profile really is about you, not your spouse, not your kids, not your pet, not even your recent book or class ring (yes, I’ve seen what looks like a class ring as a profile picture). It’s a professional network, and professionals want to see exactly with whom they are interacting.
Customize your profile
Did you know you can customize your profile, telling LinkedIn which sections of your profile you want visible to connections and search engines? Well, you can and it’s easy to do via the Settings page. If you have little work experience but are heavy on projects and volunteer work, you may opt to make these sections visible on your profile and play to your strengths. Similarly, you can add to your profile information about relevant coursework. When customizing, do take time to create a personal URL for your profile. Make it easier for people to find you by adding your profile URL to your email signature and business cards.
While we’re on the subject of customizing your profile, it’s expected that you will make changes to your profile – adding experience or deleting experience that may not reflect your current career interests. When you’re working on your profile, before it’s ready for prime time, change your visibility settings so that others cannot view your profile while it’s in construction. Again, this is done easily in the Settings menu: Settings > Profile tab (at bottom of screen) > Edit your public profile > Select ‘Make my public profile visible to no one’.
Other profile customizations you might consider: rearrange the order of the sections in your profile, change activity broadcasts, and modify what others see when you view their profile.
Actively participate in groups
LinkedIn Groups are a great way to lurk and learn from those with more experience. However, don’t lurk for too long. Get in there and participate by posting thought-provoking discussion questions and responding to others’ discussion topics. Think of it as a way to have informational interviews with tens or hundreds of people in the field. Response rate depends on the question, of course, but I’ve found group members more than willing to lend their experience and expertise. Before posting a discussion topic, take some time to search through previous discussions to see what’s already been said. Group members are generally friendly, but seeing the same question over and over again can dilute the richness of discussion forums.
Participating in LinkedIn Groups also serves to warm otherwise cold calls or blind invitations to connect (which are frowned upon). Group participation gives those outside of your network more information about you, your interests, your communication skills, and gives them a way to “place” you. I have successfully reached out to connect with group members on more than one occasion based on their discussion posts. If you’re not ready to fully connect with a group member, you can reply privately to their discussion post. Because you both are in the same group, you are allowed some privileges in connecting. Lastly, diversify your group membership by joining groups outside your immediate area of interest. LIS-specific groups on LinkedIn are wonderful for connecting with peers; you also need a wider circle of connections when you’re searching for work.
Alright, this gives you a place to start. In future posts, I will bring you more tips to get you fully LinkedIn.