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IT: A Guide to Maximizing LinkedIn!
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A quick look at some of the ways to utilize LinkedIn

The Social Networking revolution has brought us many wonderful tools to stay connected to close or distant friends and family, and to express ourselves on larger networks to any and everyone. One of these tools, and the one most deserving of the verb ‘networking’, is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn was launched in May 2003 as a social networking site, concentrating on professionals and businesses. It has been steadily growing since it managed to stay true to its initial aim, and kept a respectable look and feel. Business professionals across the globe were the first adopters of LinkedIn, but as the site has matured, anyone from new graduates to people working from home have created a profile on LinkedIn.

In essence, LinkedIn is a place where you portray to others your career, while also serving as a connector to acquaintances and people in your career field. Remembering this narrow focus is essential when utilizing LinkedIn, as it should not be approached in the same way as Facebook or Weibo. When on LinkedIn, you should wear your professional hat, and concentrate on matters close to your chosen career. If you want to share funny cat pictures, do that somewhere else!
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Your Profile

There is no rule on how to set up your profile on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) other than stay professional. However, it has served many well to think of this as a little bit more personable resume than the one you hand it when applying for jobs. Keep it short and simple. It can look foolish to state repeatedly on your profile how great you are!
 

Photo

Of course you should include a photo, both to make your profile look complete and likeable, but also because people remember you better if they see your photo. This is also vital if you have a common name.
 

Summary

The summary section is the first thing people read on your profile and is of great importance. My recommendation is to write the summary in first person, as writing it in third person can make you appear distant and pompous.

Write the summary based on your core utilization of LinkedIn and remember you can change it regularly. If you are looking for a new job, your summary is your opening pitch, where you only have 1-2 paragraphs to “sell” yourself. Your summary should therefore be centered on your qualifications and achievements in your previous employment. On the other hand, if you are looking to increase your network, concentrate on your interests and professional network associations.

Under the summary section you have a specialty section where you should include a few key words describing your knowledge, i.e. Programmer, .Net, C++, Software Testing. Keep this section to maximum of about 10 items.
 

Skills

The Skills section is very similar, with predefined skill-words, of which you can include 50. You should not be afraid to fully utilize this, as this section is mostly viewed as a search engine optimizer.
 

Additional info

After completing the education section, make sure to add some further info, such as links to your other networks or websites, interests, groups & associations and honors & awards. Many include their Twitter, Facebook or Weibo account, while I recommend that you only link to information that is related to your professional self. If you utilize Weibo to post material related to your profession and interests, include a link to it on LinkedIn. On the other hand, do not include a link to your Weibo account if you mostly write funny comments, political opinions or post questionable photos.
 

Multiple language

One very useful feature of LinkedIn is the possibility of having your profile in several languages. Be sure to create a Chinese profile and an English one, and do not do so as a translation. Different things are important in different cultures, and there is no need to write the same exact information in each language. Tailor-make them and use local expressions, which demonstrate your knowledge of the language and culture.
 

Recommendation

It is vital to collect a few recommendations from former colleges for your profile. One of the fastest ways to do this is for you to provide recommendations for others, and ask them to reciprocate. Don’t over do it, as too many recommendations can also work against you.
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Your Contacts

Having as many contacts as possible is important as it enlarges your network. LinkedIn marks everyone in your network as a 1, 2 or 3 based on how far removed their connection is.
  1. Everyone that is connected to you directly
  2. Second degree of separation (friend of a friend)
  3. Third degree of separation (friend of a friend of a friend)
This allows you to more easily reach out to people you might not know personally, by asking someone directly connected to you, to introduce you up the chain. It also means that if you are connected to about 400 people your network could reach over 5 million people.

When you first complete your profile on LinkedIn, you should look for people you have worked with before. One way to do that is simply clicking on the company name in your profile. If the company has its own profile on LinkedIn, you will be able to find some of the people that work there or have worked there. Another way is to search for individuals you remember through LinkedIn’s powerful search engine.

Once you have found the person, you will be able to look at their profile and press the Connect button(yellow square on the right) to send them a connection request.

From this moment on, you should remember to add everyone you meet in professional settings (events, conferences, meetings, etc.) to your network. LinkedIn provides the ability for you to add private notes and keywords to each of your contacts; to better help you remember how and where you meet them originally.

LinkedIn also has a very advanced suggestion engine, which looks at your current network and suggests additional contacts you might know. Look at these recommendations on regular basis.

Finally, you can also import address books into LinkedIn and it will show you which contacts are on LinkedIn.
 

Groups

The possibility to connect with professionals, in fields similar to you, through Groups, is greatly underutilized by many novice users of LinkedIn. You should go to Groups and search for something of interest to you. I am for example, a member of a group called the China Social Media Group, which is a group dedicated to all things associated with China Social Media, business and branding. The total number of members at the moment is 1131, with an average 5 new discussions a week.

Through groups like this, you can post discussions, share something interesting or ask questions. If you can’t find a group that is appropriate for your interest, profession and/or location, simply create one.

The biggest advantage of Groups is the ability to enlarge your network and to keep current in matters related to your chosen profession. Many people have found jobs through groups as companies utilize this venue when hunting for new people.
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Sharing

LinkedIn has recently moved into the sharing space, similar to Facebook, Twitter and Weibo, allowing you to post status updates and share links. Being active here, posting links to interesting articles, and making relevant status updates, can make your profile much more attractive to future employers and contacts. Just make sure that you never treat LinkedIn as these other more social orientated networks, and stay on point!
 

No dust on LinkedIn

People have a tendency to visit LinkedIn a few times a year and simply use it as some type of home for their resume. Please do not do that. Be active on LinkedIn by getting involved in groups, commenting on people’s status updates, sharing interesting articles and staying in contact with your network via LinkedIn mail. Regularly search for new contacts, look through LinkedIn’s recommendations and look at the people your contacts are linked to.

If the people working with you are not on LinkedIn, recommend it to them and show them how to use it. Keep your work history up to date, and don’t be afraid to constantly amend and adjust your summary and previous employment details.

For details on how to get to all these different parts of LinkedIn and more step by step instructions, go to their website: http://learn.linkedin.com

 

By Sam Ragnarsson
 
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