Facebook and Twitter get all of the love from social media experts and pundits, but when it comes to finding a job, LinkedIn reigns supreme. The professional social networking company, started in 2003, made headlines for its successful PO this past May, making instant millionaires out of co-founder Reid Hoffman and the company’s initial investors. With 100 million registered users, LinkedIn is the social network of choice for job seekers and entrepreneurs to locate job prospects, connect with recruiters, and foster professional relationships.
Many of LinkedIn’s most useful features and applications go mostly untapped by casual users. Here are five quick tips to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile:
1) Complete Your Profile. Your LinkedIn profile should be up to date with your current employment situation. Filling out as much of it as possible is ideal, but at the very least information on your latest job (or notable volunteer activities and internships if you’re in-between jobs) will do. Why? HR staff, recruiting firms and headhunters are increasingly turning to LinkedIn to search for potential job candidates and to research current applicants. You may want to optimize your profile with a picture, though some individuals are understandably reticent to do so because of potential employment discrimination issues. But particularly for social media, PR and other public-facing jobs, a professional head-shot can help you stand out. Entrepreneurs and business owners will want to create a business profile in addition to a personal profile. Much like Facebook brand pages for businesses, LinkedIn business profiles help create a dedicated online presence for a large or small business.
2) Get Recommendations. The LinkedIn recommendations feature allows colleagues and co-workers to write a short review of your work, much like a letter of reference. Think of individuals that you would normally ask for a letter of recommendation and consider asking them for a LinkedIn profile instead. Unlike a letter, you won’t have to worry about asking for an updated one or deal with the hassle of photocopying. Plus, you’ll get to approve the recommendation before it’s publicly shown on your profile.
3) Participate In Groups. LinkedIn has over 930,000 professional-interest groups at the time of this writing, They allow users to network and share information on a variety of professional topics and fields. The selection can be a bit overwhelming, so use the group directory to find the groups that best fit your interests. LinkedIn Answers is another platform that allows users to ask and answer professional and career related questions. Participating in this Q&A platform is one way to establish a reputation as an expert or thought leader in your chosen field.
4) Update Status Regularly. Just as with Facebook, LinkedIn allows status updates. However, unlike Facebook, you’ll want to avoid updating your LinkedIn status with information on what you had for lunch or your opinions about the American Idol season finale. Instead, let your colleagues know what you’ve been up to professionally. Did you get a promotion, speak at a conference, or publish an article? Here’s where it’s appropriate and expected to pat yourself on the back and let your colleagues know how great you are.
5) Use Third-Party Applications. LinkedIn’s third-party applications allow you to sync your multi-faceted social media life in one place. You can find and add these applications through your LinkedIn account settings. If you have a professional Twitter account, WordPress blog orTumblr, you can sync your updates from these tools to your LinkedIn account. There are other third-party apps for a variety of interests. If you are big on the conference circuit and want to show off your killer PowerPoint slides, consider using the SlideShare application to share your presentations with the world.
A word of caution: if you do use your other accounts for personal communication, you may not want to sync your accounts with your professional profile on LinkedIn. Be thoughtful about just how much social media information you wish to share with your professional colleagues or any potential employers.
Keidra Chaney is associate director and web data analyst at the Alzheimer’s Association and owner of The Web Farm, a web optimization consulting company. Her work has been featured in social media industry blog Mashable and she has been a speaker at tech conferences at MIT, University of Michigan, and International Women’s Press Association.
Image courtesy of Social Media Magic