Are you on LinkedIn? This question has become more common in that past year, with total subscribers topping 200 million in early 2013 and the stock price doubling in the subsequent six months. As I note in Chapter 13 of Fast Track Your Job Search (and Career!), LinkedIn is “the premier social networking site designed for business matters and is used by most Internet-savvy business people, regardless of generation.” It is your number one web location for presenting your personal brand!
Creating your profile on LinkedIn is a first baby step. Many people create their profile, invite a few obvious friends, and then sit back and wait for invitations to come rolling in. This is the equivalent of designing a great billboard, locating it on a dirt road, and telling a handful of friends to drive by and take a look. If nothing ever happens, guess who is to blame? (Answer: You)
To keep it simple (and this stuff is not as simple as it may look), you must focus on your visibility, credibility, and connect-ability. Let’s examine how each of these factors will benefit you and some elementary actions you can take to improve your results.
Your VISIBILITY is high if you are easily “findable” on LinkedIn. If a recruiter is searching for someone like you to fill a wonderful job at a company you would love to join, how readily can they find you? They could use a public search engine such as www.google.com. More and more, however, they are looking for job candidates on LinkedIn and your visibility is determined by search results powered by the LinkedIn website proprietary search algorithm. This algorithm is affected by the contents (keywords, etc.) of your profile, the relevance of your profile contents to similar types of searchers (in this case, recruiters), and other uncertain factors.
Here are my first three suggestions to improve your visibility:
1. Connect to a larger number of diverse users and join relevant LinkedIn groups.
2. Complete your profile rather than leave out sections… and brand yourself effectively in your headline.
3. Insure that relevant keywords, phrases, and acronyms are appropriately used in your profile.
Once someone finds your profile, will you appear CREDIBLE to them? It depends. Here are my first two suggestions for improving your credibility:
1. Obtain at least two effective recommendations of your work for each position you have held during the last 10 years.
2. As per the previous item #2, complete your profile… with special attention to quantified accomplishments, certifications, and specialized training.
If you are relatively visible and people generally find your profile credible, you have the equivalent of a well designed billboard placed on a fairly well-travelled road. But, will people read your billboard (profile) and reach out to you? Maybe, maybe not. This is why you need to improve your personal connection ability or what I term your CONNECT-ABILITY. I coined this term to emphasize the need for you to become a social animal on LinkedIn.
You will gain orders of magnitude more positive career benefits if you develop strategies for reaching out to others, adding them to your network, and gaining information and support. If you posses strong “social skills” in the non-web world, with some study of LinkedIn etiquette you will be able to reap rewards. If you are reserved or socially unsophisticated, you won’t. Whether you are adept at networking and connecting or not, improving your ability to reach out to others effectively through LinkedIn should be on your self-development list for 2014. This topic is beyond the limits of this blog installment, so I hope to cover it in a separate post in the future.
To summarize, LinkedIn is a phenomenal tool that can gain you valuable business connections and calls from recruiters. I encourage you to apply yourself in the areas I have mentioned and start reaping the rewards. Best wishes for your success!