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LinkedIn – Where do I start?

It can be daunting for many of us to start putting our professional life out there for all to see. Where do I start?  Below are my thoughts….

Step 1: Setting up your profile – The Basics

  • Start by taking some time and updating your resume before touching your LinkedIn profile.  This gives you a good template to work from based on your recent experience, skills, education and interests.
  • Turn off ‘Activity Broadcasts’ for the initial time period when you are setting up and editing your profile information.  This just means that as you add connections (or they add you) they are not getting blasted with alerts with every little change to your profile.  Once you are satisfied with your profile and its complete (or mostly) you should turn it back on.  At this stage changes to your profile will be new, real time relevant and worth sharing such as promotions, education, projects etc.  Go to ‘Account and Settings’ (place your mouse pointer over your profile pic in the top right hand corner of the screen) select ‘Privacy and Settings’ then under Profile> Privacy Controls select ‘Turn on/off your activity broadcasts’
  • Spend a little bit of time understanding the different sections available to you on the basic page such as Home – Profile – Network – Jobs – Interests
  • Use your resume as a guide to start filling out all the relevant information under your Profile page.
  • You MUST include a profile pic. Not up for discussion! (and not a drunken one from a recent wedding!)
  • Be aware before you go searching for (not necessarily to connect to!) past boyfriends and girlfriends or old colleagues that these people will often get an update that you have viewed their profile! This is not like facebook!
  • Once you have your resume fully entered you should now take some time to start expanding on the information associated with each section.  We are limited in the information and experience we can include in our resumes as we target them for specific jobs and\or make choices as to what is more important to include to keep size  down.  Your LinkedIn profile is where you can start to expand on your story, include more detail on experience and projects you have worked on and also delve into detail on specific skill sets.
  • Take some time to fill out a full set of Skills and Expertise – these are what people will endorse!
  • Share your profile with some trusted colleagues and friends for feedback and input.  I have found this invaluable.
  • Use the Network features to start linking with your colleagues past and present. LinkedIn has nice tools to use your contact lists, find alumni or just add individually contacts you may have.  Personally I usually only link with people I know.  That could be from business dealings, past work colleagues, friends, etc.  I don’t necessarily agree with linking just because people are in the same industry or have the same job title.  That is what groups under Interests is for!
  • Under Interests take some time to follow a few companies of interest and see if there are groups that have similar interests that you may have and where you could learn from or contribute to.
  • If you have a smartphone or tablet download the LinkedIn app.  Its an easy way to use, interact and update your profile
  • That is it… the basics!

Step 2: Time to get uncomfortable !

  • Now that you have a profile set up you need to enhance it and build on the basics.  If you have taken the easy way so far and only connected to immediate colleagues now is the time to get uncomfortable (or at least from my introvert state!).  Start thinking about past bosses, colleagues, companies, etc and search for and reach out to connect.  Since a couple of sessions I gave on LinkedIn a number of colleagues have come back to sing its praises as they have restored contact with old colleagues that they just lost track of over time. Contacts that will help endorse skills, build their network and provide valuable recommendations.
  • Think about those around you that you work with who are on LinkedIn, their skill sets and start endorsing them.  Please only endorse people you know, can stand over the endorsement and are skills you have personally witnessed and understand.  Specifically with technical skills people can end up endorsing you for skills that you have listed but don’t really know you posses!  Be genuine and don’t accept endorsements on skills that people suggest for you if you are uncomfortable with it!  Once you start endorsing a few people many will start reciprocating and help build out your profile.
  • One of the hardest things to ask for is a recommendation.  However a genuine recommendation from someone who can easily expand on the information if they are contacted is invaluable.  Think about a few people that you trust to give you a good recommendation.  (Please note a glowing recommendation on your skills from a golf friend or drinking buddy that you have never worked with on a professional basis is pointless – don’t do it!)
  • Take a look back at your Projects section.  Are their past projects worth noting that you have not included? Put together a narrative and get them up there.  This is all about your story, showing your adaptability, broad exposure and skill set and distinguishing yourself from the crowd.
  • Did you find some groups under Interests that you joined in Step 1? Can you contribute or learn from them? Look at participating in some of the conversations either to share your expertise or simply ask questions.  Its amazing the contacts, learnings and ideas that you can garner from these groups from just a little bit of time spent with them.
  • Think about sharing in LinkedIn using status updates and sharing any interesting articles you read on the web relating to your skills, interests and expertise.  Share a training you are taking or a conference you are attending (be selective and share useful relevant information… this is not twitter! Start sharing junk and people will hide you and your updates!)  Spend a little time on your newsfeed on the home screen to review articles.  Like, comment and share where appropriate.
  • Obviously if job hunting use the Jobs page to search for new jobs! That after all for many is the reason to be in here!

Depending on your current state 1) happy in a job, 2) in a job but looking or 3) seeking employment will determine the amount of time you spend (have to spend) on Step 2.  Obviously when job hunting there are many more methods to finding a job so while LinkedIn should not be your only focus neither should it be ignored.  It is an environment generally that needs very little work to keep up-to-date after the initial profile work. Some regular house keeping and updates can keep your profile fresh and current and may just lead to your next career move.