30 March, 2010

Why And How To Use LinkedIn

Headhunters and recruiters use LinkedIn, not Facebook and MySpace, to “source” or identify candidates so everybody who is looking for a job or is interested in advancing his or her career needs to get serious about using LinkedIn. There are several reasons headhunters and recruiters use LinkedIn rather than Facebook or MySpace. First off, unlike MySpace and Facebook, which were created mostly to facilitate social networking, LinkedIn is actually designed for professional networking. For example, if I need to recruit a mining industry sales rep in Carbondale Illinois, LinkedIn enables me to specify people in my network who live in the Carbondale area, and have mining sales experience. I can’t do that in MySpace or Facebook.

If I favor candidates with business degrees from certain colleges, I can narrow my LinkedIn search by school and degree. I can’t do that in Facebook and MySpace.

LinkedIn is made for business, not monkey business.

Then there’s demographics. According to Ad Age and Andersen Analytics, LinkedIn members are at the height of their earnings years and have higher incomes than Facebook members who are more likely to be retired or MySpace members who are more likely to be young or in lower paying fields.

LinkedIn’s superiority in business search is not limited to employment. Let’s say you want to buy real estate in Douglas, Arizona. LinkedIn allows you to construct a search that will tell you all Douglas, Arizona area realtors in your network. You can’t do that in MySpace or Facebook.

So whether you’re trying to advance your career, your business or your cause, you need to be using LinkedIn. Here’s a short tutorial:

1. Put your contact information in some fields that show up in your public profile so even people who don’t belong to LinkedIn can actually reach you. People with LinkedIn profiles show up in Google searches. It’s a partial profile – what LinkedIn calls your “public profile” - where only certain fields are visible so make sure your phone number and your email address are in a field that shows up in a Google search. I want to be easy to find and easy to contact so I put my cell phone number and my email address in the “summary” field of my LinkedIn profile along with my Twitter and blog URLs.

2. Join some groups. Joining groups enables you to build your network by thousands of new people with the click of the mouse. Go to the search field at the top right of your LinkedIn home page and click on the drop down then click “groups”. Type a key word. I just typed “Kanawha” and hit “enter” and got two groups I might want to join. Then I searched on “accountants” and got over a thousand groups that might be of interest to accountants. Join some groups. You can join 50.

3. When you join a group, make sure you have enabled messaging with members of the group. I have no idea why, but a small percentage of LinkedIn members join groups but turn off the feature that allows other group members to directly message them through

4. Build your LinkedIn network. Invite every professional you respect to join your LinkedIn network. Don’t just invite the people who already have LinkedIn accounts. Invite professionals you respect to open their own LinkedIn accounts. All you need is their email address.

5. Get in the habit of logging in to your LinkedIn account home page every day and take a moment to actually read those updates. LinkedIn will tell you when people in your email directory join LinkedIn, when members of your network join a group, get a new job or start a group discussion. As I write this post, LinkedIn is telling me that Kent Howell is recommending the new Blackberry app, that Trey Hoffman is recommending Amy DeBuc, that Steve Davis has added a Twitter account and updated his LinkedIn profile and that Russell Williams wants to Link to Vietnam vets. My LinkedIn home page is telling me about what my connections are reading, who they’ve recently Linked to and much, much more. One of my favorite features is the one where LinkedIn tells me how many times I turned up in search results in the last 3 days and then gives me descriptions of some of the people who have viewed my profile.

6. Ask a friend to give you a personal, one on one, tutorial on LinkedIn. I offer to tutor people on how to use LinkedIn all the time. If you have a LinkedIn account and you have no idea what to do with it, find someone who knows how to use LinkedIn and invite them to teach you how to unlock the power of LinkedIn.

And while we’re on the subject, clean up your Facebook and MySpace accounts. Delete the profanities and the drunken spring break pictures. After headhunters and recruiters identify you on LinkedIn they will go to your Facebook page to look for clues about your character, your professionalism, your affiliations, your maturity, etc.

Do you have a blog? Does this blog enhance your brand? If not, delete it.

What about your Tweetstream? Does your Tweetstream enhance your personal brand? If not, delete it. Employers are watching.

Now, go work on that LinkedIn profile. Ask a LinkedIn “power user” to give you a tutorial.

UPDATE: I received my copy of Fortune Magazine too late to cite their cover story on LinkedIn but here's the link: Fortune Magazine: "How LinkedIn Will Fire Up Your Career" - http://money.cnn.com/2010/03/24/technology/linkedin_social_networking.fortune/index.htm

Coming soon to Higginbotham At Large:

“The Co-Signer Effect”

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