How to Use LinkedIn to Enhance Your Career
LinkedIn has become more than a social networking site for professionals. It has also become a resource for recruiters, hiring managers and employers to conduct preliminary research on potential candidates for job opportunities.
Advantages of LinkedIn
As Amy Levin-Epstein, writer for CBS Money Watch, notes, there are “few easier ways to maintain a professional profile online than with LinkedIn.” Setting up your profile is quite easy and straightforward. Start with the basics.
- Complete your professional information.
- Add a tasteful—and focused—headshot photo.
- Connect with former and current contacts and peers, making them aware of your profile and achievements.
LinkedIn's simplicity and ability to display your professionalism and work history is a more graphic presentation than and an effective complement to your carefully constructed formal resume. Your profile displays your qualifications and experience in an engaging, effective format.
When you’re looking for another job or expanding your professional network of peers and colleagues, past and present, LinkedIn offers advantages for you. Author Levin-Epstein also reports some suggestions from LinkedIn corporate insiders on how to use the site to help you improve your career.
Three Ways to Maximize Your LinkedIn Experience
In response to questions from author Levin-Epstein, LinkedIn insiders Krista Canfield, Corporate Communications Senior Manager, and Nicole Williams, Connection Director, offered their best suggestions for maximizing your use of the site. These features are unknown to or downplayed by many users.
However, Canfield and Williams emphasized that these three tips are very effective. These suggestions keep you up-to-date, active and communicating to your maximum potential.
- Regularly visit your LinkedIn page. It’s tempting to visit your homepage only when you’re changing or “pumping up” your personal profile. However, LinkedIn is more interactive and useful than for merely updating your profile. Canfield notes that “Your LinkedIn homepage is a customizable one-stop shop for finding all the business insights to conquer your workday.”
For example, you might seek out potential new clients or employers. You might also learn about those people in your network who’ve received promotions or new jobs at companies in which you may have interest. This gives you the transparent opportunity to send congratulatory messages or learn about other opportunities at your peers’ current or new employers.
- Follow company pages, including news events and other updates. Over two million companies, such as Apple and Google, offer company pages for your review. You’ll receive the latest updates on company activities and performance, new job opportunities and all manner of useful information about many organizations.
Connection Director Williams notes that this is a key feature of LinkedIn. You’ll be able to “stay in the know” about your favorite companies, while expending minimal effort. When using this simple tip, you are making LinkedIn work for you, keeping you up-to-date, whether or not you’re looking for another job.
- Employ “LinkedIn Answers” to learn information from the massive LinkedIn network of professionals. Overlooked by many, this feature delivers input from the LinkedIn network. Not only will you get valuable information, you’ll have the opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise, further enhancing your professional brand.
As director Williams helpfully states, “Responses link back to profiles, so many LinkedIn members use Answers as an opportunity to promote their expertise with high-quality, well-thought-out responses.” Therefore, you not only get answers to your questions, but you have the ability to network in a natural, non-artificial manner.
If, like most working people, you find it challenging to find the time to stay in touch with and/or expand your network during your busy days, using these tips accomplishes two goals.
- You’ll stay up-to-date with your peers’ activities and lives.
- You’ll have the opportunity to communicate quickly, giving instant responses to questions, sending brief update notes and cementing your all-important network relationships.
Just as Facebook helps many people stay informed and in touch with personal friends and family, LinkedIn, when used effectively, enhances your career. Using this opportunity to maintain contact with and expand your network, learn of new job opportunities before the information gets out to the masses and stay informed of news at companies in which you’re interested, you can increase the perception that you are a talented, dedicated professional.
There are few, if any, risks, but countless potential rewards. When recruiters or hiring managers visit your homepage, they will also learn that you are an active, committed and knowledgeable professional. Whether or not you’re seeking new employment, this perception may deliver wonderful immediate and future benefits, even improving your chances of promotion at your current workplace.