LinkedIn is a professional networking tool that has been further developed each year since its inception in 2003. It is vital that aspiring, young professionals are active on it, as it serves as a free networking platform that can help you build contacts and start conversations. Everyone has a different theory on how it should be used and that’s how it should be since everyone is unique. The American Marketing Association have published their guidelines on how to best navigate the website and how you should set yours up. One of the most important areas of the site that they highlighted is the summary section. I completely agree with their assessment of this section because it is where you can sell yourself in a few short paragraphs and talk about what you bring to the table. In my Digital Marketing course, Professor Pepe has stressed the importance of having an expert LinkedIn profile. He has promoted its purpose and outlined how having a strong profile can set us apart from other candidates for a job. It serves a similar purpose to having and maintaining a blog, as both can separate you from the clutter that exists in the business world.
One piece of advice that I would give to someone new to LinkedIn is to keep their mind open and network with all different types of people. If someone comes to speak in your class one day, CONNECT ON LINKEDIN. If you meet someone at a school function, CONNECT ON LINKEDIN. If you meet up with a recent graduate, CONNECT ON LINKEDIN. Well, you get the point, everyone you meet, both formally or in passing needs to become a LinkedIn connection of yours. There is no cap to the amount of connections you can make, so never stop networking.
One common misconception people have about LinkedIn is that it serves as an alternative to having to network in person. WRONG. LinkedIn is a tool that should spark up new business relationships and allow you to develop them over the phone or in person.
Never use this tool to avoid speaking to people face-to-face or over the phone because then you are killing its purpose. The connections you make should be done with the end goal of having a conversation with them, either about career opportunities or just to receive advice on how to become a successful professional. LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to send a short message to a connection, which should be used to facilitate a longer conversation down the road. These should be treated as an area to write a short note, not your whole life story. A connection on LinkedIn can refer to your page for more detailed information about you, so this message should be short and personal. The best ones involve a friendly introduction followed by a succinct message about why you want to talk to them.
One last piece of advice I have for those looking to get started on LinkedIn or to improve their existing page is to separate yourself by utilizing the skills section. Unlike a generic resume, LinkedIn is interactive and the amount of skills you can add to your page are limitless. Forbes documented this idea in an article written a few years back. Any skill you have developed through schooling or work experience should be listed in this section, as these provide you with ability to showcase your peculiarity that you will bring to a future employer.
So, for all those looking to enhance their profile, use this to get started and move on from there. These are just basic instructions on how to master the site, but will give you a good place to start from. There are so many different online sources to learn more about the site through and that is just one way to do it. Make sure to ask your teachers and peers many questions about their approach to LinkedIn, as they’ll have some great advice as well. In the meantime, that is all I’ve got, good luck bolstering your profile and strengthening your position in the business world.