So many people think that LinkedIn is only for people who are unemployed or looking for a job. They couldn’t be more wrong. I speak to people all the time who have learned that they need to start looking for work and now they want to learn about LinkedIn. I won’t say they are too late, but it would have been better if they had already had a LinkedIn presence.
This is actually a sign of two misunderstandings. First, many people think that networking is only for the unemployed and salespeople: people who need something. We make a mistake when we think of networking as only being one way, a way to get something from others. Proper networking is a two way street, I try to help you and am helped in return. LinkedIn gives us many opportunities to connect and be involved with others. It is ironic that computers/technology is blamed for decreasing our contact with others, yet here is a way I can speak to people from other companies, states, and even countries. I have connected with people from states I have never been to and probably will never visit, and have discussed current issues with people I would have never dreamed of contacting.
LinkedIn has two avenues to assist others, and practice your expertise. Groups, I love these, allow you to connect with others in your field and discuss current topics. It amazes me that you can talk to people without regards to gender, race, geography, status, or anything. In one group we were discussing cold calling when you are talking to a company and I realized the responders were from India and Pakistan. That was an eye-opener of how small our world has become and how big the internet is.
LinkedIn has over a million groups and you can be a member of up to 50. I would suggest starting with some local groups, your alumni group(s), and some in your industry. If the topics are not interesting, drop it and find a group that is.
Another avenue is questions/answers. I have not taken much advantage of this. You can click on answers and find questions in many categories. This is a great way to do surveys, get opinions, best practices, and hard to get answers. One thing that LinkedIn does is allow you to rank the answers. By accumulating some best answers, this can be an asset since it shows on your profile.
Like in everything on the internet, check your sources. Anybody can post an answer. Some will be better than others. It is also suggested that you use the 80/20 rule when you interact in either groups or answers. Try to contribute four times what you take.
Another misunderstanding it not realizing how powerful LinkedIn is for promoting your abilities and expertise. LinkedIn has over 161 million subscribers, must of whom are professionals. When I went to a recent conference, most of the people I met I looked up on LinkedIn. By having a completed profile and picture I immediately felt better connected to them and trusted them more. An incomplete profile, no picture, or no presence made me doubt how involved they are in their profession.
LinkedIn is not just a job search engine; there are a multitude of them. What LinkedIn will allow you to do is to control what image you project out there. It also allows you to connect and build relationships with others. It also gives you the ability to learn and follow current trends that affects your field and industry.
A LinkedIn presence is not build overnight. Just like becoming part of a club or team, relationships take time to build. I plan to have an ongoing presence on Linkedin from now on. It will be there if something should happen to my current job. And it will allow me to reach out and help or talk to people I would not be able to reach without it.
If you have had an experience on LinkedIn please let me know by either leaving a comment or sending me a message. If you are not on LinkedIn and don’t plan to, I would like to hear why. LinkedIn isn’t for everyone but since it is free and easy to join, and seeing how you can present your skills and abilities, it may be a tool you shouldn’t overlook.