Casey Hines | @caseyagogo LinkedIn: live it, love it, optimize the heck out of it. The ultimate network of professionals is a superior tool for those seeking employment: more detail-oriented than Career Builder and more accessible than Monster. But scouring job listings is only one way to get the most out of your time spent on LinkedIn.
Leveraging this portal can not only increase the frequency you show up in search on LinkedIn, but also expands your reach towards maintaining relationships. It's not enough just to have a large network. Engagement is just as important on LinkedIn as it is on Facebook or Twitter, whether you're hitting the pavement for the perfect job or have been happily employed for years.
1. Be seen.
LinkedIn is really only successful when a profile is filled out to completion. Users sometimes hesitate to advertise about themselves, but keep in mind: this isn't Facebook. It's a professional network, and it's fine to include relevant information and achievements. Decide how much of your profile to make public, but keep in mind that an amazing profile is useless if no one can see it. Leverage a profile by adding work history, an accurate summary about yourself, an outstanding (also accurate) picture, and start gathering recommendations. Taking the time to have your LinkedIn presence stand out can increase SEO and give other users more incentive to form a connection. Need more info? I've also written a blog about LinkedIn etiquette for businesses and professionals.
2. Get sharing.
Like Facebook, there's a space for status updates on your LinkedIn profile. Don't be afraid to use it. Most of the profiles that have really left a positive impression on me are the ones that have frequent and interesting updates. Share what you're passionate about, articles or blog that have caught your eye, and ask relevant questions to your network. Match your updates to your goals. For example, if your goal is to make more sales, post updates about how you have helped your new clients, not about how excited you are about the 15% commission on the new contract. Also remember, a professional voice is very important on LinkedIn.
3. Follow your inspiration.
Is there a company or individual you admire? Follow those who inspire you. Even if job seeking isn't the primary function of your LinkedIn usage, keeping an eye on who is making waves in your industry is a good practice. If you don't know the person you're connecting with personally, send them a personalized note if you decide to send them an invitation to connect. Using the generic greeting can be interpreted as a spammy.
4. Be a groupie.
The extensive group system is one of the biggest and best advantages of LinkedIn. There are groups that focus on industry discussions, regions and cities, college alumni, and all kinds of recreational activities. What are you into? There's a group for that. What are your business and professional goals? There's a group to help with that, too. Feel free to even take the initiative and start your own group!
5. Start talking.
After joining a few groups, dive into a discussion or two. There's a plethora of groups on LinkedIn, from industries to regional areas to college alumni, and there's even spaces available to talk about recreational interests. Group conversations are first-rate areas for meeting people and sharing thoughts, but the best rule of thumb? Always go professional in your communications. Don't degrade any interactions with rudeness, even if it's an idea you don't agree with. Also explore LinkedIn Answers, which give you the opportunity to showcase your expertise.
Regardless of employment status, networking is an ongoing process. Who you may meet is always a pleasant mystery, both in the online world and off. Do you have any tips or tricks to leveraging LinkedIn like a networking pro?