LinkedIn – The Place to be
The professional Network
LinkedIn is a professional social network, where professionals network, engage in discussions, share and search for information. Each member has a profile (looking like an elaborate online CV) based on professional background, experience, skills and abilities. The profiles can be fine-tuned with presentations, links to almost whatever you want, recommendations (these are important!) and endorsements (these are not that important…).
LinkedIn is The Place for online networking. As we can see the connections of our connections, we can use it to develop a great network of contacts that can generate significant business potential as well as career opportunities.
Although LinkedIn is widely used for recruitment purposes, it is definitely not a career platform only. People use LinkedIn not only to offer or get interesting professional opportunities but also to gain and share experiences and know-how, gather market information or to be in touch with former and current colleagues and acquaintances from business life. You can discuss professional topics and receive feedback from experts within groups that are formed according to their members´ occupations and interests just in few minutes.
It has never been easier for sales people to get information about the stakeholders of any company that are important for reaching their sales targets. If you need to know whom to approach and to arrange a meeting in a specific company, you can use LinkedIn as a source of potential business contacts. The advanced search function displays associated profiles and you can be introduced to them by your common contact. You can also quickly acquire important information on company organization structures and thus be more precise while aiming at the right people.
If you have a complete profile your chances to benefit from LinkedIn grow rapidly. Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume. The link to your profile appears at the first or second position when anybody “googles” your name. It is important as 94% of people check the first page search results only.
Making a good profile takes some efforts, but it is no rocket science and anybody can handle that. The site guides you to fill all of the important information. When the complexity of your profile (together with some minimum number of connections being reached) gets to a good enough level, the site will give you an “All Star Profile” batch which is where you should aim at.
Proper dates, company and position names, basic responsibility descriptions and education background information are the essentials, together with a brief while comprehensive summary at the beginning of your profile.
There are basically two types of references on LinkedIn. The really important ones can be found in the “References” section and have to be given to you and written by another LinkedIn member. In most situations, you need to ask your contacts to do that for you, as it requires a bit of an effort from their side.
The second type is called “Endorsements”. People can endorse you for any of the skills listed on your profile (well, it is a good think to fill in the “Skills” too). As endorsing someone takes just a single click it is much easier to get endorsements compared to the “real” references, however the value of theendorsements is much lower. I am endorsed for various things by dozens of people I have really never worked with…
You can find many different professional groups on LinkedIn and you can also start your own ones. Some of these groups might be very general such as “The Russian Connection” or “Banking and Finance Group”, though you can find very specific ones like “HR Professionals on Maldives” or “Oncology Drugs Regulatory Affairs Professionals”. Not only the level of specialization, but also the level of activity differs from one group to another. You can find groups buzzing with life as well as “sleepy hollows”. What is common to vast majority of the groups though, is a willingness to create knowledge and connections sharing platform. You can discuss in so called general discussions (that often are very in-depth and professional) or create your own “Job Discussion” which is basically a free-of-charge job-ad space available at every group. That means a lot of job offers can be found within the groups and if you search for a new opportunity a related professional group is a place to go.
Even a company can have a LinkedIn profile (and many of them do have it). Recruiters understand that visibility is the key and online presence is essential to avoid draining the candidate pipeline. Compared to Facebook company sites, which can be very cool though their recruitment and general business efficiency is dubious, LinkedIn creates a more professional and business-like platform for a company presentation. As an individual user, you can tag and follow the companies you are interested in and perhaps be among the first ones that get the information on new recruitment initiative, internships and many other interesting activities. CXO’s can follow their competition and brace for the tough business world out there.
Let your network flourish
Connect with people who you know from your studies, colleagues and ex-colleagues, business acquaintances and friends. Watch the updates in your network on the LinkedIn main page or let yourself be informed on important changes regularly you via email.
When that great client of yours has a new CEO, you have to know that. You also do not want to miss a great career opportunity or knowing that great Marketing Specialist you know from before is looking for new opportunities. Moreover, your business partners might be pleased by your anniversary wishes.
It is almost impossible to succeed without a good network, so get connected!