Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The LinkedIn Success Story – The Jobs Tool for the 2010’s, Part 2 – Getting the Most Out of LinkedIn

Are you looking for a new job or new clients? Would you like access to over 125,000 recruiters and over 125 different industries? The Mountain View, California company LinkedIn, that was started in December 2002, and launched on May 5, 2003, has it all. This explains the LinkedIn success story as the top all-professional social networking site.

LinkedIn has 75 million members as of August 2010 and is in 200 countries on all 7 continents. The company had 600 employees as of June 2010. Members from all of the Fortune 500 companies – many at the senior decision making professional level – are on LinkedIn.

Signing up with LinkedIn is easy and having a basic profile account is free. The additional three upgraded LinkedIn business service levels have extended premium features that are well worth the upgrade cost. You can start with the free service if you are just getting started or you are trying to conserve money because you are unemployed. LinkedIn offers upgraded services in their business account packages for those who wish to expand their networks and take advantage of everything LinkedIn has to offer.

It is human nature to want to do business with people you know and like, and most importantly, that you have confidence in and trust. A standout professional profile along with a strong professional presence on LinkedIn is a great calling card for potential clients and customers to increase familiarity and confidence in you and your company. Did you know the majority of potential employers and customers look at your connections and recommendations in your profile first?

Purposeful and thoughtful networking helps ensure accomplishment of professional goals and business success for anyone in any industry at any level. Consider a “professional profile” to have the meaning of “for all employment levels in any vocation with a desire to network”. A LinkedIn profile is beneficial for everyone, not just white collar or management or degreed.

In an attention economy, the squeaky wheel does not necessarily get the grease – or the job or the new client. It is only positive attention that increases your favorability factors for success. Negative attention can in fact doom your professional prospects just like a poorly written or incomplete resume. Positive professional attention starts with a good public Internet presence that starts with an interesting, honest, complete, and interactive online professional profile.

An online professional profile is your resume “plus” to potential employers, potential clients, and potential networking connections. It is a resume plus, for it includes connections, recommendations, interests, and connectivity in addition to the traditional resume work experience and background.

First, a few overall LinkedIn profile guidelines:

* Be honest and accurate. A profile on LinkedIn is your online resume, and it is a verifiable representation of you.
* Pay attention to the details. Double-check the spelling, grammar, and capitalization and punctuation consistency.
* LinkedIn isn’t Facebook or MySpace. It’s great to have a sense of humor, but keep the presentation of you (profile, statuses, comments, and email) professional at all times. Consider my LinkedIn test – Would you say it to an HR Manager or potential client? It’s a plus to be creative and to reveal a great personality, but keep it professional.
* Provide a full name in your profile. If you don’t want to have a named professional presence, why did you bother to put a profile on LinkedIn?
* Include an email address and phone number whether personal or strictly through your company. Contact availability is an important part of networking.
* If you do not provide input in a format category, that section will not display in your profile. Complete all sections if possible.
* Allow InMail and Connections. No one is too important to not professionally network. If you are not open to connections, why are you on LinkedIn?
* Allow connections to be browsed by others. It is networking after all. Be collaborative and provide two-way networking.
* Set your account privacy to everyone. Unlike the intelligent desire for some privacy on pure social networks, you want as many eyes as possible on your LinkedIn profile especially if you are looking for a job or new clients.
* Ensure your LinkedIn public profile URL link contains your actual profile name to maximize consistency in your Internet presence.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn involves, well, being involved by putting up a great profile, posting meaningful business updates, joining LinkedIn Groups, connecting with people, giving and receiving recommendations, asking questions, answering questions as an expert, and helping people. What do our 3 LinkedIn expert panel members add from real-world experience?

LinkedIn panel expert Ken Nussbaum, our CPA and Consultant, provides lots of expert practical advice:

* Understand LinkedIn is a tool. It can be extremely valuable if used properly. If unused - or underused - it will have little or no impact at all. Depending on the industry, in fact, not having an active LinkedIn presence could easily be viewed as being out of touch with the current trends and create a negative impression.
* Encouraging people to “have the right attitude” about networking carries over to how effectively you use LinkedIn. Joining LinkedIn with the idea of making it hard for people to find you is counterproductive.
* Quality connections are important. Being a "collector" is missing the point. Having connections with which you actually have a personal connection is important, so reaching out to them is comfortable and productive.
* As mentioned above, having a complete profile is not just a good idea - it is vital. This includes school and work history. You never know when a former colleague might stumble upon your profile or information and think that you would be perfect for some project they're running.
* Joining and participating in groups is important. The more visible you are, the more likely someone will be able to find you - even if the person didn't realize that they were looking for you! This also applies to answering questions posted in the group and questions posted to the LinkedIn community at large.
* Don't be shy about asking for recommendations or about writing recommendations for others without being asked to do so.
* Be sincere about wanting to connect with people to help them. It is ok that a by-product of helping someone else is that you are also helping yourself.

LinkedIn expert panelist Debra Forman, PCC of Pinstripe Coaching offers, “The profile listing is most effective when it has been graded "100%" by LinkedIn - this will then signal that you have listed all that you need.”

Debra points out, “LinkedIn is a huge marketing engine. Because of the millions of users, if someone is searching for you or someone with your name online, for example Googling you, your LI profile will typically pop up first because of the huge volume of members in LI. Not having a profile on LI is like leaving money on the table. There are only positives to posting it.”

Debra knows, “Linking with your clients or prospects is an extremely effective way to use LI. You get to stay in touch with/on top of what your clients are doing. They will be able to do the same regarding you.” She suggests these tips for the most effective LinkedIn usage:

* Check your home page daily to see your contacts' activities and to know whom has visited your profile.
* Use the update feature with judgment. Be professional and strategic with your featured news
* Keep your profile fresh. It is your key access point, so keep it up-to-date.

Our LinkedIn series panel expert Phyllis Reardon, President of CoachPhyllis.Com Inc, notes, “If utilized fully, the Profile section has the capacity to give a more concise picture of you than the traditional resume. Make use of all the Applications and update as needed. The Presentation section is invaluable.”

Phyllis utilizes LinkedIn every day, “As a business person, I allot LinkedIn time twice a day, once in the early morning and again late afternoon. I use this time to answer questions, ask questions and join in with my groups’ discussions. This process has several benefits among which are:

* It gets you known as an expert in your field.
* It shows your many strengths and talents.
* It increases your visibility.
* It creates connections to other LinkedIn members.

Phyllis concludes, “LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to put yourself above the crowd through a well defined and structured Profile section. We are most inclined to join groups related directly to our area of expertise, but it is extremely beneficial to check out and join other groups. You will be amazed at how much you learn and the worldwide connections you will make.”

Thoughtful participation highlights your visibility in the mind of potential employers and clients. Being visible and reflected as an expert and top in your field is a vital element in successful branding. Any successful individual or business is a direct result of successful relationships.

Part 1 - Why Use LinkedIn?
Part 3 - Linkedin Member Success
Part 4 - Features & Statistics

Part 5 - International Focus in a Global Economy

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