Here is my advice (to myself as much as anyone else!) on ways to use LinkedIn:
Keep it up to date with your employment history, at the very least. Also, add other info gradually, so that you don’t lose a whole day at once! Drip-feed your profile…
The Guardian’s latest edition of their Careers Uncovered guide suggests that you should aim to have between 5 and 8 recommendations on your LinkedIn Profile (This advice is also available in an article on the topic). Perhaps I’d better get cracking if I follow my own point number 2, from my list below!
- Use an up to date photo: make your profile personal & authentic to viewers.
- Ask for recommendations from colleagues (& be sure to be willing to reciprocate).
- Populate the “Your skills & Expertise area” by endorsing other people’s skills: it could prompt some return endorsements. Or you could just ask for them.
- Keep the publications list up to date, if you are publishing.
- Add media items into your profile: eg a link to your blog, your twitter profile, slideshare presentations, youtube videos, etc
- Summarise your career for the summary section: this could also be useful as a draft “speaker biography” when you attend events, too.
– At the same time, gradually connect to everyone you can think of! Although do remember to only approach people who you genuinely know in some way. As you gradually update your profile, your activity will be reported on your contacts’ home pages. So if they are looking on LinkedIn then they will be reminded of you: perhaps “little and often” is key for this reason, as well as to avoid losing a whole day!
– Link your blog and/or twitter feed to your WordPress account, so that new blog posts/tweets appear in your activity feed. NB I chose not to link Twitter because I don’t want to flood my contacts’ home pages. But I only blog roughly once a week, so that’s OK!
– Under LinkedIn’s “Interests” tab, look for companies that you can follow. Some companies use their page to provide you with useful info about their work, eg Google. Or good advice, eg jobs.ac.uk. Other companies broadcast job opportunities in their activity streams. If you really want to follow what they broadcast, then you need to invest time in looking at updates on your home page. But you could just keep it as a list of companies who you might one day be interested in working for!
– Also under “Interests” there are “Groups”. LinkedIn suggests both groups and companies for you to follow. These are probably based on what people in your network are following, and is not a bad selection to get started with. With Groups, your request to join seems to require approval and it’s not so instant as following a company.
You can also get e-mail updates about discussions in those groups. When you want to start a discussion, that also seems to go to a moderator, so the level of activity and appropriateness of discussions varies from group to group. LinkedIn groups is not altogether the most social or active of discussion/group sites that I’ve ever found, but that is my own experience and I guess different groups have different levels of activity.
– You can also spend time looking at who’s viewed your profile: I find it largely a distraction! It does show a graph of activity across the last 90 days, so if you’ve launched a big “notice me” social media campaign and want to track its effectiveness, then it could be useful. Klout also does this sort of measuring, across several social media channels. And Hootsuite, and probably lots of others…
– Lastly, the Jobs section of LinkedIn. I created and saved a search there, but I couldn’t be so specific as I wanted to be. I can go back and see what new jobs have been added since I last looked, but I confess that this area of LinkedIn will have to wait for further exploration from me. Lots more drip, drip, drip to be getting on with!
(Image: Vanessa Pike-Russell)