Connect or Perish. Why LinkedIn is Your Career Life Line

LinkedIn pen

Photo courtesy of The Seafarer, Creative Commons Licensed

Social Media isn’t new, but it is maturing and taking center stage in business. Just look at LinkedIn. With over 200 million users and 2.7 million business pages, it is the go-to social network for serious business professionals. It amazes me that, with this meteoric growth, exposure and connectivity, more self-described professionals aren’t active on LinkedIn. The following are three real professional cases where LinkedIn could help individuals stand out in a crowded employment and business landscape. If you see yourself among these cases, heed the advice. I promise it will make all the difference. Otherwise, your career might perish in a sea of anonymity.

Underutilizing LinkedIn

Carol is an ambitious corporate insurance professional with tons of experience. She is well-spoken, outgoing and successful. Yet her LinkedIn profile lacks anything more than her current job title and company–she doesn’t even have a photo connected to her profile. After a brief conversation with Carol, I learned that she had already connected with everyone she knew at her company. However, none of her coworkers really interacted on LinkedIn. She joined a few professional groups but never engaged in any conversations. Here’s the opportunity,

  1. Complete your LinkedIn profile to show your upward career progression and success.
  2. Add a professional quality photograph, hiring a professional photographer, if possible.
  3. Stand out among your peers by posting thought leadership content, tips, and thought-provoking articles to your LinkedIn page daily.
  4. Join the conversation in professional groups. Share what works for you or create your own thread and engage others around your ideas.
  5. Most importantly, connect with actively engaged LInkedIn professionals within your profession. These are powerful connections that just might lead to your next position or a new business deal.

Underestimating the Value of LinkedIn

James is a project manager for a large energy company, spending his days gathering resources, crunching timelines, and talking to associates across the world. And although he does have a fairly detailed LinkedIn profile, complete with photo, it reads exactly like a resume. Bottom line: he doesn’t see the value in LinkedIn.

I don’t have time for social media. Can’t someone just do it for me and send me the results?

Bottom line: James, If you don’t leverage social media personally, especially LinkedIn, you may not even exist to recruiters, peer professionals, and customers. Your genuine voice is what matters here. Yes, you could hire an administrative assistant to update your profile and engage in groups on your behalf, but it will not be your authentic voice, ideas, passions, thoughts, and knowledge. It will come across as sterile, vague and ultimately, ineffective.

Advice for James.

  1. Refine your profile to share information about your personal philosophy for success–what makes you great, what motivates you, what do you do to “win”. Then, tease out the keywords that matter for your job (not simply skills like Microsoft Excel or Powerpoint). ¬†For example, use strong, descriptive phrases to illustrate a bigger vision: Strategic Project Management, Team Leadership, Budget Management, Resource Allocation, and PMP Certification.
  2. Find and connect with your business customers who work with you directly or with your department. Personalize your invite message so that it sounds like a genuine message and not the default robo-message LinkedIn provides.
  3. Join a few professional groups and, at minimum, comment on some of the relevant threads. If the conversation results in insights, ideas, or significant engagement from others in your industry, connect with them through LinkedIn, too.

What’s LinkedIn?

Jaime, a physician’s assistant, doesn’t even have a LinkedIn account. In fact, he asks, “what’s LinkedIn?” Because his work has traditionally been hands-on with lots of paper, he’s avoided having to learn much about computers, mobile devices and now social networking. Through many years, he’s built a personal reputation through his personal network of doctors and patients. But times are changing for Jaime–his job now requires digital record-keeping, mobile health knowledge, and patients who do much more upfront research online before visiting their medical professionals.

Jaime wants to relocate to a different part of the country to be closer to his children, but how does he go about finding a new job? Certainly, paper resumes and snail mail won’t compete against the vast network of handy online resources recruiters now use to find qualified candidates. So, how does Jaime highlight his stellar reputation in the 21st century? Start with LinkedIn. In fact, it may be the only tool needed to land a new job.

Advice for Jaime.

  1. Seek a social media professional’s help to develop a strong LinkedIn profile. This person should interview you, have stellar writing skills and a great LinkedIn profile him or herself.
  2. Consider hiring a professional photographer to capture a business-friendly photo for your LinkedIn profile.
  3. Connect with patients, doctors, and other medical professionals who respect your work. Ask them to recommend you and endorse you for specific skills.
  4. Join and engage in professional groups associated with your profession. Share your wisdom, tips, and expertise with junior professionals. This positions you as a thought leader in your industry.
  5. Purchase a business of job seeker LinkedIn account, which provides expanded visibility and connectivity to the vast LinkedIn community.

What advice would you share with Carol, James or Jaime? Are there other personas that could benefit from a LinkedIn “makeover”? Share your thoughts.

About

Gina is an Content Marketing Manager for a large tech company and a TEDster. She's a mash-up of physics, entrepreneurship and industrial engineering and loves to write about the intersection of business, technology, and humanity. In her spare time, she enjoys organizing TEDx events and delving into quirky technology projects with her preteen son.