This is in response to Scott Allen’s Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn – A Group Blogging Project project. I think my thoughts fall somewhere between his “it should contain” instructions and “it should not be” instructions – nonetheless, it’s valuable, and it’s been on my mind – so here you go.
LinkedIn is a tool that I recommend to those that are interested in personal career management. It is, or can be, useful in a job search. it should be a tool oft used to find, develop or nurture network relationships. It has a lot of periphery features (outside of just networking) such as a job posting area, a question and answer area, a company research area, etc.
And it’s as powerful as a chainsaw. Or tablesaw. Or cordless drill. Or powertool of your choice. If you don’t know how to use the tool, or you don’t use the tool – there is no value. If you do know how to use the tool and you use it, there can be a lot of value. Remember though, that no tool is the silver bullet. A hammer needs a screwdriver needs a saw to get the job done. Don’t look at just LinkedIn for your networking and career management needs.
Here’s what I really mean when I tell people to get a LinkedIn account:
- Set up a real, meaty profile. This is something that recruiters and hiring managers will find when looking for candidates (which means have the right keywords in there).
- Make your profile public, or at least a lot of it, so non-LinkedIn folks can still get value out of it without logging in or creating a new account.
- Make connections. If you have 1 or 2 connections I’m not sure what to think. You don’t like technology? You are a late-adopter (I am). You don’t have friends, or you hang with the technically adverse? Get at least 30 – 60 connections so my initial impression will be different than “you are a loser.”
- Answer questions. It’s free to click on the answers tab and find some question that you can contribute to. I know of at least one person that made money (found new business) because of her involvement in Answers. The key? Contribute intelligently. We want to know you are smart and relevent, not a smart-a.
- Ask questions. When you do this, there is a part of the process that allows you ask your network via e-mail. DO THAT – otherwise they likely won’t know that you asked a question. Be involved, you can even look smart based on how you structure your question – don’t make it spammy, whiny, too philosophical or weird, and thank those that participate.
- Use your LinkedIn public profile in your e-mail signature and as you comment on blogs. I recommend using your blog address for this but if you don’t have that, your LinkedIn URL is the next best thing.
So there you go. When I say “get a LinkedIn profile” that’s pretty much what I mean to say. It’s not the silver bullet but it is a nice complement to the other things you are doing, and it can be effective.
[while you are at it, sign up for a free JibberJobber account so you can have a real contact management system to complement your LinkedIn experience.]