Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to Use to it's Fullest! has been around for many years and it's popularity has been growing quickly over the last few years, especially among those in the technical community.  Linkedin is more than a networking site, it is a career enhancement tool!  This blog is intended to provide the reader with suggestions on how to create a good Linkedin Profile, build a strong presence on the site and use it to your advantage to further your career.

Your Linkedin ProfileWhen creating your profile, it should read similar to your resume.
>Start with a paragraph or two in the Summary section that outlines your career experience and future career goals.  Include your email address in this section or put it directly next to your name so that people can easily contact you regarding your expertise and also invite you to join their network.
>You will want to provide a work history that includes any employment relevant to your current (or desired) career path. 
>You will also want to bullet point responsibilities with each position listed to show a brief over-view of your most important skills and qualifications. 
>In the Skills section, don't go over-board.  List only the most important of your qualifications here.
>In the Websites section you should list your company site, any personal blogs you may wish to share or other business related sites you may have.  I strongly suggest that you not list your Facebook page or blogs where you discuss issues unrelated to business.  By including personal sites you can open yourself up to unwanted discrimination.  The same goes for your Twitter account, if you're using Twitter to vent about your political views or amuse your friends with how drunk you were Saturday night, this isn't information you want your business network to review.
>You have the option of adding sections to your profile.  The sections for Certifications, Courses, Honors & Rewards and Publications are all beneficial for adding industry related information that will augment your experience.  Unless it is relevant to your career, I recommend not bogging down your profile with what books you're reading or where you've traveled etc.
>DO NOT include a phone number if you are not prepared to field calls from Head Hunters and Sales Professionals!
>Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations!  Once you have started to build your list of connections, ask the people that have worked closely with you to provide recommendations.  Most employers will review your Linkedin Profile prior to interviewing you, it is beneficial to have those references there to reinforce your abilities.
>Be thoughtful.  Always consider who you are asking to join your network or accepting into your network.  Do you know this person?  Have you worked with them?  What are their qualifications?
You can invite anyone to join your network, but if you don't know the person and they flag your invitation as unwanted solicitation, Linkedin will smack your hands and take away your privilege of inviting contacts unless you have their email address.
>Providing recommendations.  You can and should recommend people you have worked with, however only recommend people that you have strong knowledge of their work and professionalism.  You wouldn't want to recommend someone publicly that you have only known for a short time and later find out that they've been fired from previous jobs for their lack of work ethic or other issues.  It is ok to say No when someone requests a recommendation.
>Groups.  There are what seems like an infinite amount of groups on Linkedin for you to join.  When reviewing groups to join consider how many members the group has, what information is being provided by the group and how it relates to your career. 

Utlizing Linkedin when seeking new employment:
>If you are on the market, put together a well thought out message regarding what type of position you are seeking, location, responsibilities and any other expectations that are important to you and send that message to your established contacts on Linkedin. 
>Post your desire to find a new position as a Discussion on the groups that you have joined in your industry.  Don't forget to include your email address.
>Search the multitude of job postings in your industry related groups and also via the "Jobs" tab found at the top of your profile page.
>When you discover a job posting of interest, whether through Linkedin or the other job boards, you can search Linkedin to find a decision maker from that company and try to reach out to them directly to let them know you have interest in their opportunity and would like to discuss how best to apply.  This direct approach doesn't always net a response, but if done professionally might give you an "in" where other applicants fall short.

Update! Update! Update!
>Each time you change jobs or finish an engagement or receive a promotion...make sure you update your profile to reflect that change! 
>If you change employers be sure to update your employer website information in the Website section of your resume.
>If you have experienced a Lay-Off or your engagement has ended... ask some of the people you worked closely with to provide a recommendation for you.

In closing, it's important to check your Linkedin page at least once a week to review any messages you may have received.  Imagine your Linkedin Profile as a live Resume, always being reviewed, considered and actively representing you in your absence.  By keeping up with your messages and updating your profile regularly Linkedin should be one of the most significant tools in your employment process.

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