LinkedIn: It’s Who You Know

While reading the New York Times last week, I stumbled upon an article in the Technology section that questioned the high stock value of popular Social Media website LinkedIn. According to the article, LinkedIn made a profit of $243 million in 2010 and the website has been expanding rapidly in 2011 with no stalls or crashes. For those of you who are not familiar with the website, LinkedIn is a social networking site that allows one to “link” together their collegiate network, co-workers, alumni associations and professional network into one. Companies can post job openings on the website and users can see how they professionally connect to others.

LinkedIn has become a widely-used social networking tool and has attained a positive reputation in the world of virtual networking. Universities and parents are often warning teenagers and young adults to “watch what you put on your Facebook page… you never know who will see it!” However, the point of creating a LinkedIn profile is putting one’s best “professional” face forward in the hope that potential employers will see it. With Twitter, one often hears that users “tweet too often” or spend too much time updating their page. Yet, with LinkedIn, one’s professional information will change very little from day to day so the site does not need constant maintenance. Although, do not be confused: this site is a social media tool. Many have the conception that LinkedIn is simply a portal for resumes, but there are other uses and features on the website. While it may not be as “social” as other social media networks, it definitely has its perks.

If you have a LinkedIn or are considering creating one, here are some helpful tips on how to maximize your profile, coming straight from the source (LinkedIn Blog):

1. Become an expert on the career you want to pursue

Read LinkedIn Today, do daily news searches on your chosen industry, or look into the new feature LinkedIn Signal

2. Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for your new career

Make a strong summary statement of your career goals, make sure your headline shows off your professional side, and post any/all “transferable” skills you have.

3. Join LinkedIn groups related to your desired career

Include professional organizations from your University or community and look at what groups others in your industry are a part of.

4. Alert your network to your career change plans

Send personalized messages to individuals in your network if looking for a job or opportunity and make sure your title is up to date.

5. Talk to anyone who works or has worked in the field you want to join

Ask your existing network for recommendations and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask for tips, publications and advice in attaining your desired career.

6. Sign up for LinkedIn job alerts

Customize your job alerts by location, function, keyword, etc. and know when a position opens up.

7. Make real world changes

Take advice from others profiles and see what areas of your professional skills need improvement.

From personal usage, I would advise uploading a professional photo for your profile to make it more personal, making sure that all of the information on your site is accurate, and getting recommendations from current or past employers. The more positive reinforcement and information you have available, the more it shows that you put time and effort into your profile. Everyone in the social media world knows that putting your best face forward counts! And, don’t be afraid to post updates about relevant topics. The connections you notice are the connections that make themselves known. Lastly, make use of your connections! Do not be afraid to message your friends parents or your neighbors to ask about their career paths. You never know what a little bit of initiative and networking can do! After all, LinkedIn has helped to show us that it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Meagan Prescott.

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