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Leveraging LinkedIn – 7 ways to enhance your online presence

No doubt about it – LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool. With its exponential growth and seemingly limitless reach, it is a great database/social networking platform for people of all professions. That being said, I get a lot of questions from people that are looking to start up or expand their LinkedIn presence or even to better understand how they can leverage LinkedIn and expand their profile.  For the purposes of this blog, instead of a step by step guide on how to set yourself up on LinkedIn and build your profile, etc, I would like to assume that most folks have either done that or have read other articles on how to do that. Instead, I will focus on the things that you should be doing on LinkedIn once you are set up:

1) Join Groups – one of the most powerful features of LinkedIn is the ability to join groups, exchange ideas and information, problems solve, etc. When first starting out, I would suggest you focus on anywhere from 4-12 groups that you would like to join.  For example, start with several groups that are representative of your current profession. If you are an engineer, there are literally hundreds of groups dedicated to engineers depending on your particular discipline, geography, industry, etc. Think of the scope of what you are trying to accomplish with your career. If you are engineer who is focused on, or looking to get into project management, perhaps you join some groups that are in the project management realm. Think a bit more holistically about your profession and what you are trying to accomplish with your online presence. Many individuals starting out simply join a raft of groups (up to their allowance of 50) thinking that this shotgun approach will quickly expand their network and job opportunities. Most people will find this approach to be unsuccessful and will only serve to clutter their inbox with daily group updates that they don’t have time to read or comment on.

2) Contribute to your groups – after you have joined your groups, try and participate in some of them. Participation can take the form of sharing industry news, asking questions, responding to questions, seeking or giving advice, or discussing ways to advocate more for your profession/group. I have found it best to identify a small(er) number of groups at first that you can actively participate in – that way you can quickly build your network within that group and secure your online presence.  As you gain a greater comfort with your groups and the interactions you have, you will be better positioned to expand your role into other groups.

3) Follow companies – another great feature of LinkedIn is the ability to follow companies. By doing so, you identify companies that you maybe targeting in the future as part of your search or networking efforts. You can become known to these companies and provide comment or ask questions in regards to their updates. It demonstrates your connection to your profession, your network and your career path.

4) Events – LinkedIn has a great feature that allows you to either follow or create events for others to follow. It is a great way to check and see if others in your network are attending events you are planning to go to. That way you can reach out to them to try and set aside time to network. I personally have had a great deal of success with this feature in the months leading up to a conference. Many individuals I have either connected with on LinkedIn or Twitter, but have never met face to face, I was able to meet IRL (in real life) at an event we were both attending.

5) Skills & Expertise – this is an often overlooked section that should be maintained. I don’t advocate that you add in a grab bag of everything but don’t be overly modest either. You should ensure that it is an accurate reflection of your current skill set. If something is listed there, you should be able to give a practical example of its application if you were ever asked about it during an interview. Keep in mind that this section is often a key reason why recruiters (through the use of SEO) come across your LinkedIn profile so it should be reflective of you and what you can do.

6) Recommendations – there are many schools of thought on the use of recommendations. When used properly though, they can have a powerful effect. I usually recommend that if you can maintain a handful of recent, client, team member or supervisory recommendations it can be a very powerful tool.  The most powerful recommendations are the ones that are very specific in nature. Meaning, someone is recommending your work, your approach, your results on a specific job, deliverable, etc. This way, it brings a powerful POP to your profile because it isn’t a generic description of how you are a great “team player.”

7)  Applications – in the pull down menu of your LinkedIn profile are many other powerful applications that depending on your need/use can really help your profile add another dimension to its utility. Applications such as Box.net (file sharing), Reading List by Amazon, WordPress (to connect your blog), My Travel (for travel sharing/networking) and Polls are all applications I have seen used with a great deal of success. Many LinkedIn users are not even aware of these applications or their usefulness in enhancing their profile. I encourage you to check them out and see what may work for you.

As mentioned earlier, the functionality of LinkedIn is almost limitless. This seven tips are but a small sampling of how to enhance your profile and online presence. I would love to hear from you if you have had success (or not) with these tips or have other suggestions on enhancing your LinkedIn profile.


11 Responses

  1. Great article – Boy has recruiting come along way. I like that Boolean and LinkedIn are more important than Monster or Workopolis. The recruiting sands are shifting

  2. […] Recommendations – in my blog post about Leveraging LinkedIn, I identified that including recommendations in your profile is a great […]

  3. […] the conference attendees on LinkedIn. (This, by the way, is a great feature of LinkedIn that I have previously blogged about.) I have identified no less than a half-dozen folks in my network that are attending and with whom […]

  4. Thank you for the very informative article. I frequently help clients set up a LinkedIn account and use it effectively, but I learned a few new tricks through this article.

  5. Reblogged this on The Armchair HR Manager and commented:

    On the 10th anniversary of LinkedIn, I thought this would be a relevant re-post from the (not so) dusty archives.

  6. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really
    well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  7. […] is a lot of advice out there. While I have blogged about LinkedIn a lot with specific posts on tips and tricks, I want to hone in on one particular area that I think folks could use a bit of specific […]

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