linkedin.tipsLinkedIn can and should be a powerful career tool but most professionals feel that they underutilize LinkedIn. A few comments I hear include:

Have not really seen the benefits of using LinkedIn.

Don’t really know how to leverage LinkedIn for networking or job searching. And question knowledge on how to leverage it.

Wary of using LinkedIn to look for a job for fear employer will find out or suspect something is up.

Have other privacy concerns.

If you resonate with any of the points above, here are a few tips to help you understand what LinkedIn can do for you and your career.

Benefits of LinkedIn

First, realize the power and benefits of LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals with over 200 million members in 200 countries. You can use LinkedIn in many ways – a few include:

  1. Networking with your “tribe” and expanding your network.
  2. Positioning yourself as a “thought leader” in your niche or industry.
  3. Job searching – both initiated and to pull opportunities to you via your network.
  4. Business building for your consulting or small business. 

Tip #1: Create a powerful profile

It’s free to join and once you have, you’ll want to create a profile which best highlights the skills and strengths you most want to showcase. Here are a few tips to setting up your account:

  • Use a current version of your resume to post your profile.
  • Your profile should contain those things you wish to be known for – and nothing more!
  • Don’t go back too far with your job history unless you have a really good reason for it.
  • Have someone (friend, loved one, resume writer) edit and proof your profile or have it professionally done.
  • Use discretion with listing personal information…just like a resume.
  • Make sure to put in as many specialty keywords as you can in that section. Key word optimization is a major way others who are searching for people with your skill sets find you! 

Tip #2: Build Your Network

You can search for old classmates, past companies, friends or recruiters in your industry on LinkedIn and invite them into your network. In a job search situation – there are people on LinkedIn who are looking for people with your skills. You will not show up high up in their search results unless you are in their network. So building a very focused networking of key players, internal and external recruiters is a very wise move.

Tip #4: Join groups

There are tens of thousands of groups and group forums on LinkedIn.

Forums give you an instant audience in a particular industry, networking group, alumni group, recruiter group, company or geographic area! Currently you can join up to 50 groups.

Once you are accepted into a group – you can post a question, post a news or blog article or announce you are open to new career opportunities.

If you are a job seeker, don’t forget to post your candidacy on the 10,000+ member recruiter groups. You will be casting a wide net, but stand to garner several positive responses. Just be clear about what your specialty is to make it easy for the recruiters to identify potential interest on their part.

If the group you join is job search related – you will want to hide the group icon so it does not show up on your profile. You can easily do this in the group preferences settings. 

Tip #5: Use LinkedIn’s group email feature

Sometimes LinkedIn will charge a user to connect with others, but not in group forums. Check out the member listings for your groups and email selected group members (in the group forums) absolutely free!

Being a member of LinkedIn quickly establishes your credibility, gives you an audience in an amazing choice of industries and allows you to fully leverage yourself in the market. 

Tip #6: Become a Thought Leader

If you are interested in rising to the top of your niche in order to quicken your career you will be wise to post information using your LinkedIn Activity Feed. This puts you top of mind in your network. Things you can post about relative to thought leadership include:

Info on a great career/leadership book you just read, a picture of you with the keynote speaker at a conference or seminar you recently attended, links to one of your blog posts or an interesting career related article you just read, a pic of you volunteering or running a 5K for a cause or promotion of a cause you believe in.

Bonus Tip: On Privacy

All of us assume some risk when we put our information on line. You can change who sees your network and activity feeds in the LinkedIn settings section of your profile. If you are worried about your employer seeing what you are doing on LinkedIn or knowing who you are connected to, set these to private.

There are many other ways to use LinekdIn to benefit your business, career or consulting business – these are just a few. You can find more information and step by step strategies here.

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