If your business involves you connecting with others, do yourself a favor- get a LinkedIn account. Some people will ask me why should I get on LinkedIn, isn’t it like Facebook? My answer is NO. If used in its true intended form you won’t see vacation pictures, political rants (although that changed around election time) or other non-professional posts. Personally, I work at growing my network almost daily. Why? I have found clients, candidates, new employees, vendors, great referral sources all from my LinkedIn profile. I get messages regularly from employers looking for candidates. I’ve even entertained a few interviews from potential employers who found me on LinkedIn. My current employer found me on LinkedIn which made me feel was incredibly lucky. I realized how they found me – I wasn’t hiding. More than once I have walked into a meeting or a networking event where I don’t know a soul and someone approaches me and says – I know you! I start to think about how and before I can answer they say – I know you from LinkedIn. This always amazes me because I have over 7000 connections. This didn’t happen overnight, I’ve been a member since 2009.
Every article which tells you how to have a successful profile will tell you the following – make sure you have a professional photo that provides those you are linked to of a sense of who you are – in your professional life. It amazes me that some on this site post profile pictures with their spouse, children or a political figure. Your profile is for you and it’s not a group page so you should treat it accordingly. Develop your profile in the same way you develop your resume. Provide a summary of who you are professionally. If you are just starting out looking for an entry level position or an internship use that as your summary. If you don’t “ask” employers/prospects will not know what you are seeking. One of the great features about LinkedIn is the search bar; you can look for specific individuals, those who work for a specific company or have a specific job title. If you are seeking employment, search for recruiters or human resource managers. If you are looking for a vendor/partner or clients indicate the job title of the individual, you are looking to meet with. If you see suggestions for people you may know evaluate if it’s a good idea to connect with them. If there’s a chance you could refer business to one another or they may know someone you would like to meet with then go ahead and connect. As a female on LinkedIn I started to become more selective. Sometimes I have had dating requests which always makes me laugh. My profile gives no indication that I’m single and ready to mingle. I’ve been very happily married for a very long time. You can look at the other people whose profiles have been viewed with yours; this generally can give me an idea of why the person would like to connect.
In closing remember these tips:
- Provide a professional profile picture and summary and professional highlights
- This is not the free dating site you have been looking for or the venue to post your feelings – leave that to Facebook or Match.com
- Grow your network as often as you can
- Be gracious you never know who they know and how they can help you at another time.
- When you meet someone at a Networking event, connect with them and send them a genuine note that it was nice to meet them
- If you are in sales I think its ok to send messages in a general, marketing oriented way.