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If social networks were people then LinkedIn would be the grey-suited accountant sitting at the corner of a party too shy to talk to people. Twitter, of course would be the hipster chick and Facebook would be the jock in the cloakroom talking about his recent conquests.
I recently saw a message posted on Facebook that read “Daughter, if you want to be successful in life, ignore the jock and spend time with the nerds in the class”; and it got me thinking: how often are we ignoring LinkedIn as a powerful tool to further our careers.
LinkedIn isn’t pretty to say the least. At first glance it’s cluttered and confusing and very little actually makes sense. It takes a little navigating and a lot of patience to find what you need, but once you gain the hang of it you’ll realise how incredibly powerful it really is.
There’s the obvious use of keeping LinkedIn as an online résumé, and then there are the few people who use it to find clients (it’s incredibly handy as a tool for business development). It’s also used by many head-hunters and recruiters looking for someone just like you.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a business owner looking for clients, a sales manager looking for business leads or an employee looking for better prospects… at the end of the day it’s not what you know — it’s who you know. And LinkedIn can provide you with the ability to find the who-you-knows.
Here are five ways you can change your LinkedIn experience to make you more attractive to people and increase your ability to attract amazing business and job opportunities.
1. Keep your profile up to date
Your profile is the way people will see you. While it’s important to keep your profile professional, it wouldn’t hurt to add a small bit about yourself and your hobbies. Show people you’re a well-rounded individual.
Use a professional tag-line, but make sure it’s descriptive. “Operations Manager” doesn’t mean much, but “Team Developer and Operations Manager in eCommerce” says a lot more.
Use a professional photograph on your profile. It doesn’t have to be stoic, but it’s not the place to show yourself at a drunken party or shooting a gemsbok on a game farm.
2. Be sparing on your connections
LinkedIn is not the place for you to connect with every Tom, Dick and Harry. It’s the place where you connect with people you personally know, trust and can recommend. If you don’t know the guy and really can’t recommend him, then it’s probably better not to connect with him (unless you’re strategically wanting to connect for a business venture/job move).
3. Recommend others
If you’ve managed your connections properly, take the time out to recommend other people by writing short testimonials. Remember that this is where honesty counts. Your reputation is as much on the line here as theirs. If you cannot honestly recommend the person, then don’t. In fact, remove them as a connection.
4. Ask for recommendations
There’s nothing wrong with asking past clients, colleagues and bosses (who you’re on friendly terms with of course!) to write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. It gives people a great insight into who you are and how you’ve worked with people in the past.
The good news is that LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to accept or reject a recommendation, so if you’re not happy with a recommendation, you can just delete it.
5. Get involved
LinkedIn is as much about networking as any other business community, club or organisation. Use the LinkedIn group search to find groups you’re interested in, start discussions, ask questions, answer questions. Show that you know what you’re talking about within your community and become the expert in your field. Soon people will be offering you incredible jobs.
Whether you’re looking for a new job, a promotion, more sales or clients – LinkedIn is a powerful tool that cannot be ignored.