In today’s technology-driven world, having a digital presence is as important as maintaining an updated resume and cover letter. And even if you’re not actively searching for a new job, building a network of online connections is a smart move that will keep you tapped into a variety of professional opportunities.
Although there are a number of social sites you can join, LinkedIn is undeniably a professional networking powerhouse — and one that should be at the top of your social networking list.
If you’re new to the site, there are a number of things you should keep in mind as you create your profile and build your network of connections. In the latest episode of our Engineering Career GPS video series on Engineering.com, Jen gives Roger a primer on LinkedIn and how it can be a valuable asset both for your professional development and your personal brand.
4 Things You Need To Know About LinkedIn
- Understand the site. Although Roger tries to summarize LinkedIn as “Facebook for work,” it’s a lot more than that. Sure, LinkedIn is a social networking site. But it’s dedicated to business and professional use, which means you have an opportunity to tap into a powerful group of more than 160 million professional users, including executive-level management. Having a clear grasp of what the site can do to help you with your professional development is important not just when you’re establishing your profile, but also when you’re posting status updates and interacting with others on the site using tools like LinkedIn Groups and Answers.
- A powerful profile. One of the most critical elements of LinkedIn is your profile. And a common mistake is simply transcribing your resume into the site. Think of LinkedIn as your personal corner of the web. This is prime digital real estate in which to capture a complete picture of your professional experience, skills and background, so make sure you take advantage of it. Use the “Summary” field as an in-depth elevator pitch that presents an overall picture of your current position, professional background and skills. Then you can expound upon current and previous positions in the “Experience” and “Projects” section to give LinkedIn users a thorough and comprehensive look at what you bring to the table.
- Connections matter. Once your LinkedIn profile is in place, it’s time to build your connections. And as Jen says in the video, the bigger your network, the better chances you have at making connections with prospective clients and with companies at which you’d like to work. Consider adding current and former colleagues, family members, friends and acquaintances to your LinkedIn network. A piece of advice? As you start to send invitations to connect, take a few seconds to personalize your message as opposed to sending the default request. Let people know why you’re interested in connecting with them, especially if you haven’t spoken to them in a while.
- Make an effort. Here’s the thing about LinkedIn. It doesn’t work automatically. Think of it as a tool that you can use as part of your overall networking and professional development strategy. And like any other social site, LinkedIn is a fast-moving stream of conversation. In order to have a more productive experience with the site, you need to stay visible by posting frequent status updates, sharing relevant industry-related content, participating in discussions in Groups and Answers and keeping your profile up-to-date. Just as a telephone won’t automatically land you a new client or score you a job interview, LinkedIn won’t do much for you unless you put in the legwork.
When used correctly, LinkedIn can be a powerful source of job opportunities, prospective clients, new business leads and professional development. Sure, it can be difficult to make time to be active on the site. Yet you’d be surprised at what sort of doors might open as a result of LinkedIn, which makes the investment of your time and resources more than worthwhile.
Do you have a LinkedIn success story to share? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. And while we’re talking about LinkedIn, feel free to connect with Burns & McDonnell for the latest job opportunities and career and industry news.
Image by smi23le via Creative Commons