This evening I am sitting on a discussion panel about social media and, particularly, LinkedIn. Last night I jotted down some thoughts with respect to some of the preliminary questions posed to me and thought I might share them here for those who will not be making it to Paramus this evening - though I encourage you to do so if you can as (a) I will surely refine my answers (b) there are two other panelists and a moderator, (c) there will be a Q&A session (d) there will be networking and food for a low price.
As I said, these thoughts are rough and preliminary, and I hope to improve upon them when I find myself in a "procrastinatory" mood. I welcome your thoughts, input, disagreement, personal examples, corroboration and so forth:
How do I make my profile standout?
- Be true to yourself. I see my LinkedIn profile as part of my overall communication plan. So highlight the things you want to emphasize. I would also recommend that you include any “Brand Names” and “key words” that might be of interest to those you want to “attract.” There are a number of people, including recruiters and HR managers, who use LinkedIn as a search engine. It’s similar to the way things used to be with job sites like CareerBuilder. However, this is better, in my opinion, because you are not obviously, actively looking, so it puts you on more equal footing.
- Include descriptions of your work, not just listings of companies, titles and dates
- Include links to relevant websites, e.g., if you have a personal or biz website, if you have a blog, if you have a Twitter feed.
- Have a nice, professional photo.
- Update things periodically so that your contacts get “updates.” Keeps you top of mind. Use the status update, but use it strategically and cautiously.
Should I make more than one profile?
- No, it will just complicate your life, and it will confuse people. This is what makes LinkedIn tricky, but embraces it as a puzzle to solve.
What are some profile mistakes I should avoid?
- Poor quality or unprofessional photo
- Twitter feed – don’t overwhelm me
- Incoherent overview of what you do – for consultants – don’t give me a list
- [I have a personal example of something I tried but found to be suboptimal - demonstrating that here, as in most digital environments, there is an opportunity to test and change.]
How do I expand my network?
- LinkedIn is a tool to manage your network, so basic networking rules still apply, and I would encourage getting to know people face to face before connecting with them on LinkedIn. When you meet someone at an event that you want to connect to, take their card and connect to them in the next 24 hours to 7 days.
- Groups. Join some relevant groups, and join in on the conversations
- Go through the lists that LinkedIn gives you of people from your jobs or schools that are on LinkedIn. Check back periodically. Once you’ve exhausted that, take a look at the people that LinkedIn recommends to you.
- Go through your non-LinkedIn “Rolodex” and periodically invite people to connect. Consider “refreshing” people’s memories, as needed, e.g., “you may recall that we met at the Bergen County Networking Event.”
How do I request references?
- Probably best to prime the pump outside of LinkedIn, e.g., via email or phone or in person. Then send the invite; make it easy for them.
- Technically: go to edit mode of your profile, go to relevant job, and click on “request recommendation.” The person has to be a LinkedIn connection.
- Think strategically about how many you want. Try to get people from different perspectives, but especially senior people. Ask people who can sincerely write about you.
- Sometimes people will ask you what they should say. Find out whether they want a few bullet points or an actual draft. [interested in what others have to say about this.]
How do I find companies that may not be advertising new jobs?
- Search for people at those companies, including people in HR. Create jobs. Network with people and sell them on what you could potentially do. Set up informational interviews.
- Follow companies… (a new feature)
- Check out company pages.
What can/should I learn about a company before an interview?
- Find out who you are meeting with and check out their LinkedIn profile – take a look at who you know in common – take at look at people’s blogs, company websites and twitter feeds. Be cautious about speaking to people who know the interviewer in common – make sure you’re not giving away a lead.
- I still like Hoover’s
- Set up Google alerts
Should I link my LinkedIn profile to my blog, Facebook and Twitter?
- Blog: depends on the blog; if your blog is something you want potential employers to see, i.e., professional and/or shows off something you want to showcase, then link to it – use the link at the top of your profile – otherwise, no
- Facebook: no
- Twitter: include your twitter name if, as above, you want potential employers to see it, i.e., it’s professional
Should I accept all connection requests?
- No. Be discriminating. I would like to think that, even though I have 700 connections, I could say who each person is, even though it may take some research, e.g., spotlight, notes, address book or need to jog my memory by seeing who we know in common, etc.
- Do not connect to anyone you have not met or had substantive exchange with via phone or email.
- Be somewhat cautious about recruiters – they want access to your Rolodex. Think about whether they can be valuable to you.
Is it recommended that a job seeker use the Q&A section?
- Q&A - now called Answers - is not very commonly used anymore. I would focus on Groups.
What’s the best way to promote a business on LinkedIn?
- Create and maintain company profile
- Use status updates, events, get involved in Groups
- As above, tweak your profile to stay on people’s update feeds
- Create a blog if you have the time and it’s relevant; link to it. Same with Twitter.
- Encourage employees to use LinkedIn
- Create alumni groups
- Monitor LinkedIn to stay on top of trends and hear what's being said about your company, competitors and your sector
How do we promote a small business? (versus a large business)
- Same as above.
How do we use LinkedIn for local business promotion?
- I think there are some hyper local functions being added
- Join local groups (such as Bergen County LinkedIn and Meetup groups)
- Connect to important people in your geo
Can I advertise on LinkedIn?
- Yes. There is a link at the bottom of the page called “advertising.” There are options for large & small budgets. I think it’s like Google. Pay per click and also banner pops.
Can I use LinkedIn for competitive info?
- Yes. First of all, track down people who used to work at competitive companies and network with them…
- Follow the companies
Should we link our blog/Facebook/Twitter to LinkedIn?
- Same as above: blog if it’s professional. Facebook Fan page if it’s professional. Twitter if it’s professional. But not automatic feeds. I hate that.
Should we accept all connection requests?
- Nope – same as above. Your business is yourself when it comes to social media. It’s all about authenticity and transparency, so it’s hard to draw a line.
Should we create a LinkedIn Company Profile? Pros/Cons
- Yes, it’s quick and easy. No downside, and you can see who is following you. Set it up. You can always add to it later.