With over 150 million members using LinkedIn, it’s time to join this social networking site if you haven’t already. Much like other more famous social media outlets such as Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn connects its users to many different people from all over the world. The difference? The site is used strictly for professional networking. The results have been astounding for some: if willing to put in the effort, crucial networking opportunities can be presented that lead to job and internship offers. To join, one must simply create an account and update their profile with their work experience (much like a resume). Below are six LinkedIn essentials for those who are new.
Include a picture of yourself
This is absolutely necessary. Period. As reported by USNews.com’s Miriam Salpeter, people are seven times more likely to view a profile if a photo is included. When deciding what picture to use, it would be ideal to use a professional headshot, but if that isn’t possible, just make sure to take a picture where you look both approachable and friendly. Ones from your weekend in Cancun probably won't cut it.
The summary is important for both showing off your abilities that your job experience couldn’t necessarily highlight and displaying that you can write well. Even if you are going into a field where how well you write is irrelevant, it will show a certain level of intelligence on your behalf that will only enhance a prospective business associate’s overall image of you.
Connections, connections, connections! Although it is important to have many contacts, it’s a waste to just add anybody and everybody to your network. As a general rule of thumb, make sure that you have no less than 50 connections, 100 preferably. Additionally, while it may be tempting to add anyone you have ever met on LinkedIn, you need to ask yourself: will they help my career in the future? Do they express similar interests/career goals? If the answer is no, don’t bother adding them.
Recommendations are useful because they give people an outside perspective on how you are as a worker. When reaching out to people for a recommendation, only ask people who know you and your work ethic well; they are likely the only ones who will take the time out of their busy schedule to do this. To increase your chances of getting someone to write a recommendation for you, write them a sample recommendation that will help guide them when trying to figure out which aspects of you to highlight. Don't get too carried away with praising yourself though; odds are you aren't the next Kurt Cobain or Zac Efron, no offense.
Don’t let your reach on LinkedIn stop at simply adding people and updating your profile. A great outlet for finding people with similar interests is to join groups specific to your career goals. Utilize a group by providing posts and commenting on the message boards. This is important because if the group is one that was to hold a networking event, people will already recognize you from your activity on LinkedIn. Being active in groups can also lead to people clicking on your profile and, if they see anything that aligns with their interests, they may reach out to you to discuss further business.
As stated before, people will reach out to you if they like what they see on your profile. Hence, having a completed profile is important. Not only does this show that you care enough to take the time to tie up loose ends on your profile, but it shows that you aren’t willing to have a sloppy profile be a representation of you on a professional networking site.