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Monday, November 23, 2009

LinkedIn - Why it Matters and Tips for Success

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LinkedIn is a crucial resource in the branding of your online identity. It is the one online tool that business professionals, community leaders and decision makers use even if they are avoiding other "Social Media."

Who is using LinkedIn? They are mature, well educated, and high income earners.

LinkedIn Statistics from Quantcast.com (11/22/2009)

Visitation/Usage -

Rank: 45th most visited website in the U.S.
Unique Monthly Visitors: 15.2 Million US, 30.2 Million Global visitors
2% of visitors are "Addicts" making up 40% of all visits.
39% of visitors are "Regulars" making up 45% of all visits.
59% of visitors are "Passers-by" making up 15% of all visits.

Demographics -

Age: 79% Are 35 or older
Education: 80% Are college educated. They are twice as likely to have Graduate Degrees than other internet users.
Income: 69% Make $60,000+ / 38% Make $100,000+

Creating a Profile
When creating or updating a LinkedIn profile remember that in many ways it is similar to an online resume. Much like a resume, your goals vary dependent upon your current employment status. Are you looking for a job? Interested in changing jobs? Or simply maintaining your personal "brand integrity."

Here are some tips that may help.

Photo: Select a professional "head shot." This is not the place to show how cute your kids or kittens are. Choose a sharply focused, closely cropped head shot. Crop well below your chin and leave a small space above your head. Fill the frame, don't crowd it. Be sure you're dressed professionally, looking directly into the camera and smiling. This is essentially Part 1 of your "virtual handshake." It's your eye contact.

Updates: These updates serve as a pulse of what you "do." Like Twitter they are short updates on status and activity. Unlike Twitter avoid posting random stream of consciousness. Remember 59% of LinkedIn users are "Passers-by" and likely only get their "Network Updates" once a week.
  1. Relevance - Seek opportunities to provide relevant information about your professional career and experience. Include information about events, trainings, workshops, volunteer work, non profit support, etc.
  2. Content - Provide links to relevant websites, photos, videos, etc. This gives viewers of your profile a way to actually interact with you even if you aren't aware of it.
  3. Tone - The updates should lean towards professional decorum but shouldn't be sterile. Occasional humor is encouraged.
  4. Filter - These updates should offer insight to your personality but recognize there is a line you shouldn't cross. Provide information you would share with coworkers, not what you share with close friends.
  5. Value - Avoid posting mundane drivel. There is no quicker way to turn off a prospective employer or business associate than to make it clear your posts aren't worth reading.
Summary: - This section will look different dependent upon your current employment situation, goals and personality. For the most part remember you're not really telling a story, you're presenting a product... "you." It's good to talk about experience, core strengths, values, aspirations and goals. Avoid redundancy of directly repeating information presented elsewhere in your profile unless it is a core message point. Keep in mind, this is your elevator speech, be brief. "Jimism #372 - Your elevator speech shouldn't take more than 3 floors."

Specialties: These can be simple skills bullet points or very short descriptive sentences. It's important that you are fully representing your skills, but avoid overkill. Choose the most important things to share in this section. It is called "Specialties" not "Everything."

Experience: When listing work experience don't simply provide a list of tasks you completed. Think in terms of why the completing the tasks was important. What was the end result? It's about spinning tasks to describe impact and importance. If you answered phones, did you "coordinate and facilitate customer service and satisfaction?" Don't "go nuts" you want to be descriptive but direct. You don't want to make every sentence appear to be "long winded" and self-aggrandizing.

Education: Pretty straightforward. Where did you go? When was that? (you might opt to skip years if you fear you'll be discriminated against based on age. Is it possible you'll be viewed as too old or too young?) What did you study? What activities and organizations did you participate in.

Additional Information: This is a valuable section in sharing information about organizations or causes that are important to you. It also allows you to share important accomplishments. Think of this as the part of the interview when you are asked, "So, tell me a little about yourself." What should you share? Rule of thumb, Keep it relevant and interesting. Quirky is okay here. It demonstrates your personality.

Social Media Cross Promotion: Should you link your personal sites to your professional LinkedIn Profile? I would say yes, but only if you are willing to invite "acquaintences" to your other social media worlds. Remember, when it comes to Social Media not everyone is really a "friend" in the classic sense of the word. How open are your networks? Do you ever post anything you wouldn't want a supervisor to see? If you want to maintain some privacy, you may want to skip linking your personal and professional profiles.

I hope these tips help. I encourage feedback and/or questions.

Connect with GoalBusters: LinkedIn - Alice Ferris / LinkedIn - Jim Anderson / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Myspace

For more Social Media tips, see Social Media FAQs Part 1 which discussed the mechanics and logic of initial Social Media profile set up.

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