Check out these seven tips for getting LinkedIn.
1. Build your network before you need your network. A solid network, in business and in life, is priceless. You don’t want to begin building your network the day you get fired; you want to continually build your connections. When you meet someone at a networking event, on your basketball team, or at a conference, connect with him or her on LinkedIn. Remember, it’s not only what you know and who you know; it’s who you know and when you know them.
2. Highlight your accomplishments in your profile. Your profile is like your virtual business card or resume. Use your profile to tell the world exactly what you do and why you’re great at it. Pull out your accomplishments, results, and data when writing about your experiences. You will stand out beside the many people who are simply writing job descriptions.
3. Send a personalized invitation message to professional connections. This could be my number-one pet peeve. Most people are so lazy when they connect on Linkedin that they use the default greeting:
“I use LinkedIn to keep track of my professional network, and would like to add you.”
Take five seconds to actually write something personal, so the person remembers who you are and is therefore more apt to connect. It can be as simple as:
“Eric, it has been a long time since we worked at FSLIC. I hope all is well with you. I look forward to touching base soon.”
4. Be a resource and a connector. Become active in professional LinkedIn groups you join, and begin conversations by posting to discussion boards. You can ask questions or pass along links to interesting business articles. This puts your name and profile at the forefront of the group, and you may begin a healthy discussion with like-minded professionals. If two of your contacts would benefit from an introduction, “introduce” them on LinkedIn.
5. Do company and personnel research. Use LinkedIn to do your due diligence before networking events, informational interviews, or appointments. If you are meeting with someone for an informational interview, review his or her profile ahead of time to prepare. You can get acquainted with the person’s current job and past experiences.
6. Know your audience. The content of your profile should exude professionalism and reflect your very best self. Think twice before linking your social networks together–your LinkedIn audience doesn’t need to see the Fantasy Football updates you share on Facebook.
7. Follow up. Think of LinkedIn as your virtual Rolodex. Being proactive with your contacts will yield benefits. Once you’ve built your profile and contact base, find reasons to connect here and there. Pass along an industry-relevant article, or congratulate a colleague on a new position.
Brad Karsh is president of JB Training Solutions (www.jbtrainingsolutions.com), a career consulting and outplacement firm. One of the nation’s leading job-search experts, Brad Karsh is the author of “How to Say It on Your Resume.” If you have a question for Brad, email him at [email protected].