With all the social media options grabbing our attention these days, many people wonder if it’s worth keeping up with yet another social profile. If you’re a career-minded professional, keeping up a current LinkedIn profile is a must. Here are eight reasons why:
- It’s Free. LinkedIn does not charge for a basic membership, and it includes all the features you need to build a professional web presence. Unless you work in sales or you are a serious networker, there is no need to pay for a premium membership.
- It’s Easy. LinkedIn has many user-friendly features to help you build out your profile. When starting your profile, use your latest résumé to fill in your position information. Once you have the basics in place, LinkedIn will coach you to help you build a great profile.
- Control. If you are searching for a new position, you need to expect your prospective employer to search for information about you online. Having an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn is a way that you can easily project a positive professional image of yourself online. With a little effort, your profile will present you as an active and engaged member of your industry.
- Casual Networking. When you initially launch your profile, be sure to go back and connect with your current and former professional connections. LinkedIn offers an email tool that will help you find contacts in your personal or professional email contacts. As you meet prospective clients, customers, or colleagues, be sure to send them a customized invite to connect. Tip: LinkedIn will keep the content from your invite, so saying it was nice to meet you at the Widget Con conference will help you remember where you initially met this contact.
- Skill Endorsements. Having a profile on LinkedIn allows you to add skills to your profile. Once you add those skills, your LinkedIn connections will be able to endorse you. You will also be able to endorse your contacts for their respective skills. Don’t confuse skills with recommendations, skills are much more casual. Some experts advise to take endorsements seriously; I say as long as they are relevant, the more endorsements you have, the better it looks.
- Recommendations. A recommendation is a formal way that you can ask a colleague to give you a formal written endorsement for a position you currently hold or have held in the past. These recommendations become part of your profile and are viewable to others based on your profile settings. Word of Caution: You will most likely be connected with your coworkers on LinkedIn. A burst of recommendations my send a signal to your employer that you are seeking a new position.
- Career Opportunities. LinkedIn uses your skills, education, experience, and location to help match you with prospective job openings. Your profile also allows other employers to find prospective employees that meet their criteria. Having mutual connections with key individuals can strengthen your candidacy even further. Be prepared for questions on interviews like, how do you know John Smith? This can be a great door opener if you are prepared for the question.
- Groups. Being on LinkedIn allows you to join professional groups for your industry or your areas of expertise. These groups give you an opportunity to network with industry professionals online. Some groups are open and others require approval from the group owner. Once you have your profile established, be sure to join a few groups and participate in some discussions.
How have you used social media to build your professional profile? Do you have any LinkedIn success stories?