A surprising number of my coaching clients don’t have a LinkedIn profile. When I mention it to them I often get a puzzled, pained expression and the question: “What Does It Do?” There is often a misconception that it is ‘another Facebook.’ Often the feeling amongst executives and professionals that it is just ‘another thing’ they would have to do and pay attention to, for no perceived value. And in today’s fast-paced, stressed-out and busy world, who needs value-less additions to their ‘To Do’ List?
So here’s the rub on LinkedIn and why you might need it as an individual. In a month or so, this blog will illuminate you on LinkedIn as a valuable tool for organisations recruiting or proactively managing their external talent pool!
For now though – here’s how LinkedIn can be useful to YOU as an individual –
1. A Business Card Holder
Think of it in its simplest form as an electronic version of your business card holder. Better still, it’s an automatically updating version. When individuals move jobs or employers they update their details, so you always have their latest ‘business card’ on hand. It includes email details, position title, employer, and often a responsibilities summary. It also provides you with an easy way to contact them via the LinkedIn email system.
With LinkedIn becoming more commonplace, it’s a good idea to have your business card out there for people to access.
2. Networking Tool
LinkedIn is a networking tool. It gives you the opportunity to connect with other professionals outside of your current employer. It has a search facility to assist you to find people. You can search by job title and employer.
It also advises you of anyone in your network who knows your individual of interest to potentially assist you with ‘in-person’ introductions.
So how might this be useful in the real world? Imagine applying for a job and being able to look up who you might know in that organisation. Or who you know who knows someone who works in that organisation. Make the connection and get the inside rub on the place before deciding whether you want to join them. Alternately, search the person who is interviewing you and learn all about their background! Information is power. There are many ways you can use LinkedIn information to assist your own professional cause.
3. Professional Development
LinkedIn offers the opportunity to subscribe to a variety of professional interest groups. This can be anything from Emotional Intelligence Interest Groups and Leadership Think Tanks through to technically and/or functionally specific groups such as a Logistics Professionals Group. To a large extent, the value of these groups is dependent on the group, its members and its moderator. Some of the better LinkedIn groups are useful for asking questions of peers with similar interests and specialities throughout the world and for getting access to the latest academic research papers. The general tone of these groups is one of mutual sharing and advising and can be a good source of the latest business and technical information.
4. Online Resume
LinkedIn is your online public resume. As such, it might be one of your primary marketing tools. It provides you with the opportunity to tell the world about the roles you’ve held, the companies you’ve worked for and your excellent achievements. It also has a testimonials capability so you can ask/encourage others to vouch for your expertise.
LinkedIn also allows you to indicate whether you are interested in hearing about other job opportunities. Interestingly, so many people ‘tick this box’ that most employers (if they bother to look) don’t read too much into it.
Increasingly, in-house recruiters are using LinkedIn as a jobs board to advertise the jobs they are recruiting for. Further, many executive search firms/recruiters use LinkedIn to search the hidden candidate market. In fact, they usually subscribe to the Premium version of LinkedIn so they can access more information and experience better functionality than what the free subscription provides. If you want to get calls from head-hunters about fabulous new opportunities – it helps if you have a ‘best foot forward’ LinkedIn profile.
Don’t underestimate the power of this aspect of the LinkedIn tool. If you are focused on developing your career outside of your current employer, your online LinkedIn presence needs to be sharp, succinct and impressive. It is your personal branding.
Therein lies some of the value of LinkedIn. If you value your career and want it to progress, then becoming a part of the LinkedIn community is beneficial. It is a contacts book, a networking and online branding tool and an information source.
For those of you who simply don’t have the time to get yourself on LinkedIn (or worse still have done so in a hurried, unthoughtful fashion) let us do it for you. Let’s Talk Career have LinkedIn profile packages starting at $350 +gst. A sound investment in today’s corporate world.
Executive Coach at Let’s Talk Career
We would be delighted for you to reproduce our articles, as long as they remain intact and contain the author’s details as follows: ‘Kris Reynolds is a an executive coach at Let’s Talk Career. Kris can be contacted at www.letstalkcareer.com.’