Are You In? Navigating Professional Networking for LinkedIn Novices

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Posted At: April 25, 2012 1:40 PM
by Rachel Childers

When someone says job hunt, generally their next sentence involves the professional network LinkedIn. However, despite its 150 million members and growing, many people still do not understand how to effectively use the network. Here are a few tips and suggestions for making sure your profile is up to par.

Your profile
Unlike a résumé, your LinkedIn profile allows you to offer more content than a typical 1-2 page summary of your work experience and achievements. As one PRDaily blog commenter  pointed out, a résumé is a gift to a specific employer, but LinkedIn is not. LinkedIn goes beyond the résumé by highlighting not only your achievements, but also it can showcase your communication style, passions, values and core strengths — a digital first impression so to say.

This can be a great advantage for students who, often, do not have much work experience. Because LinkedIn offers more than a traditional résumé, students can show relevant course information, as well as display test scores.

When filling out your profile, you should take full advantage of the fact that it is not limited like a résumé. Fill out all sections offered, including a professional picture. If employers can put a face to the achievements, they are more likely to remember you.

But remember to put only true information in your LinkedIn profile. Truth is only a Google search away, and your possible employer will check. If you have information that is incorrect, it can cause you to not only be branded a liar, but also to lose the chance at an interview.

However, LinkedIn is not the place for you to voice your political, personal or other controversial opinions. You do not need to post things like “I don’t want to get out of bed . . . I think I’ll call in sick.”

At its core, LinkedIn is a professional network. It is not Facebook, so there is no room for comments like the previous one. Think of LinkedIn like a giant office meeting. If you wouldn’t want to tell your boss and co-workers something in a 9 a.m. meeting, then you should not post it to LinkedIn.

Your connections
LinkedIn is a great way to meet or keep in touch with other professionals in your field, but, like in real life, there is an etiquette protocol to be followed. This PRDaily blog post has some great tips to follow when it comes to LinkedIn courtesy:

1. Don’t ask for recommendations from, or endorse, people you don’t know
2. Don’t buy or sell contacts
3. Don’t ask a connection to set up a job interview for you
4. Don’t ask to date someone; LinkedIn is not Match.com
5. Don’t send the “419 scam emails”
6. Don’t ask for contact information of someone in another person’s network

It is also good to send a personal message instead of the standard LinkedIn message when you want to add someone to your network. Most professionals meet many people every day, so they are not likely to remember every face and name. Write a simple message to say how you met, and include why you would like to add them, especially if this message is your first contact with them.

Your privacy
Privacy on LinkedIn is a little different from other social networks. Others can see whose profiles you have been looking at, what you are doing in groups and almost anything else you do on the network. You can turn this feature off by choosing to navigate LinkedIn anonymously, but it is not good to stay hidden for too long. You want people to know you are informed and active in your networking pursuits.

There is also the option to hide your status updates when your are revamping your profile. If you are changing large amounts of information and you don’t want it to blow up your connections’ feeds, then you can hide the updates.

Finally, you can hide recommendations that were unsolicited or poorly written.

Your other social profiles

Do not connect your Twitter feed to LinkedIn. Unless 70 percent  of your tweets are relevant to your field, then you need to have the accounts separate.

Luckily, LinkedIn and Twitter have created a new partnership that allows you to send tweets to LinkedIn using the #in or #li feature. This will allow the tweets you want your professional network to see to be featured on your profile. For instructions on how to activate this feature, look under the Twitter tab in the LinkedIn Learning Center.

This is not an exhaustive list, but just some things to keep in mind when you are new to LinkedIn. I tried to highlight the tips that I have found to be the most helpful or the most practical, but there is much more to learn the more you use the program. If you have great advice for beginners that I did not include please let me know in the comments below!

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