So many people tell me that they don’t really understand what LinkedIn is. Probably the easiest way to understand it is “Facebook for business”. It’s a social network that allows users to demonstrate their skills and experience, produce an interactive resume, and find new opportunities.
The following is a list of some major, basic features:
- Display work examples
- Make business connections, networking opportunities
- Source of industry news
- Job Search
- Solicit Feedback
Show Work Examples With the Creative Portfolio Display Application
When considering a business to take on a project or an employee for hire, you want to see what they really can do. Sure, a company can boast about their accomplishments and a job candidate can list some accomplishments on their resume, but by viewing a portfolio of work, you can do due diligence by inspecting past work for true performance.
Similarly, if a user is looking for work, they can really show off their accomplishments in an easy, interactive presentation.
There is a lot of noise — online and in our daily lives. If you’re looking for a new job, new clients, or new customers, you need to keep your name in front of the competition. LinkedIn provides several ways to do this:
- Regularly update your status with new accomplishments or questions – it goes into each 1st connection’s feed and by default gets sent to connections’ e-mail.
- Participate in group discussions. Show off your knowledge and contribute to your industry’s community. You’ll get noticed as a knowledgeable (and nice!) person in your field.
- Respond to the status updates of your connections. Traditional networking methods such as events, follow-up e-mails and phone calls have a major flaw — the connection is forced and you don’t really know what the other party is up to. But if you see that your LinkedIn Connection landed a new job, is looking for advice, or shared an interesting article, you automatically have a segue for getting in touch. Even by just hitting “Like” on a share, your name pops up. Get even more involved by sending a personal congratulations or thank you message.
One of the latest and greatest features on LinkedIn is the LinkedIn Today page. You can easily edit what kind of news appears and from which sources using the links on the right side and top of the page. Just by visiting it now for writing this blog post, I found out that Google launched a new tool for online reputation management!
While this is not my favored way of getting industry news, it’s nice to see a display all in one place.
This is probably one of the most popular uses of LinkedIn. In addition to the obvious Job Search function, by networking, updating your resume, and being clear about what you are looking for, LinkedIn can help you make the vital connection.
One of the principles that I learned in a sociology class is the power of “weak links.” These are people who are not your family, best friends, or neighbors. They are in your outer sphere of connections, or what LinkedIn would term your 2nd or 3rd Connections (connections of connections, or connections of connections of connections, got that?). These are people you may have met only once, but you have people in common. If all they know about you is that you’re looking for a job in Industry X and are a colleague of their friend Bob, they are likely to pass your name on when they hear of someone looking to hire in Industry X. How this works exactly, I’m not sure, but I guess it’s because when someone is a distant connection they have less to lose if it doesn’t work out and the referral is more credible than if it came from someone’s brother.
If you’re working on a project or want a referral for employment, LinkedIn provides a built in audience.
When I wanted advice on my new website, I posted a status update and sent out an inquiry to the relevant groups that I belong to. I benefit from the free advice of industry professionals who can tell me what they really think without worrying about hurting my feelings, and they benefit because they get their name out as someone who knows his or her stuff.
Getting more general feedback about your qualifications happens in the Recommendations section. Not only is this critical for making your profile 100% complete, it’s very useful for boosting your credibility. Anyone can claim skills and experience, but a recommendation from a current or former colleague or supervisor or client demonstrates why you stand out.