Once seen only as a form of online resume and networking tool, LinkedIn has evolved into an important social network for both professional and personal use. As of March 2011, LinkedIn had 100 million users worldwide, with additional members joining every week.
Customize your profile
LinkedIn continues to be, in a major sense, a networking tool. In order to successfully network with others in your industry or field of work, you should tailor your profile as much as possible. This includes keeping your employment and education history up to date, detailing your specialties within your field, and joining and interacting with groups. You should also make sure that your profile picture is clear, inviting and portrays you as a professional. This article gives a more detailed description of what constitutes a good profile picture.
Include all relevant experience in your profile
Along with all of its new features, LinkedIn still functions as an effective digital resume. In order to build your professional presence online, you should include all relevant job experience in your profile. Along with your professional work experience, you can also include internships and volunteer work – anything that shows off your professional skills, abilities and interests.
Connect and network with other professionals
Your LinkedIn profile isn’t going to be useful unless you connect with other professionals – these can be current or previous colleagues, friends, and people you’ve met while networking. Once you’re connected with others, you can begin conversations about your similar interests, ask for recommendations, and assist each other professionally. Connecting with previously unknown users is not only helpful in a job hunt, but also in connecting you with others who share careers and interests similar to you.
Ask your connections for recommendations
One of the features that helps LinkedIn stand out among other social networks is the ability to request professional recommendations from other users. This not only functions as a helpful tool for both job hunters and recruiters, but also as an instant recommendation of your professional abilities to potential clients. Recommendations can come from current and previous employers, professors, or supervisors and colleagues at volunteer organizations you’re involved in, among many other sources.
Connect your Twitter handle to your LinkedIn profile
In order to fully maximize your personal brand in the social space, you should connect your Twitter handle to your LinkedIn profile. This is provided that the content you tweet about is professional and appropriate and that you’re okay with your LinkedIn connections viewing it. While this may require you to be more careful about what you include in your tweets, connecting your social profiles allows for a more unified personal brand to resonate across your platforms. You can also tailor your profile to only showcase tweets that you tag with the hashtag #in or #li – this allows you to pull relevant tweets into your LinkedIn profile while keeping unrelated tweets (like the cute puppy videos you can’t help but share) on Twitter alone.
Join relevant LinkedIn groups and interact with them often
Groups are a very important aspect of the LinkedIn platform. Whether you join groups pertaining to your industry, interests, or employer, they are a great way to meet and connect with others. You can join and start discussions with others around topics you’re interested in, which can lead to new professional relationships. Another benefit of joining groups is that you can more easily invite others in the group to connect with you or send them a private message.
Mackenzie Bright is an account coordinator at Ignite Social Media www.ignitesocialmedia.com – the original social media agency®. She graduated from University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a focus in public relations in 2010. While in school, Mackenzie had the opportunity to hone her PR and social media skills at multiple internships, including The Kyle Fleischmann Foundation, the UNC Summer School, and Triangle Blvd TV. Mackenzie was also a member of PRSSA and the fundraising committee for UNC’s Relay for Life