LinkedIn.com is a business networking resource on the internet. It complements your fundamental networking skills in building relationships of value which you would use with people you interact with in person. It offers you a world wide connection, a way to “personally brand” yourself, make contacts for jobs, and have a chance to acknowledge good people throughout your past.
First of all sign up if you have not, today! The basic service is free! And fill out the entire profile. Include as much information in your profile as you can. This includes simple hobbies, interest, and associations that are important to you. Those profiles show up in Google searches, so others will be able to view the information. If you understand “personal branding” of YOU, then you know the benefit of this. The more positive points of reference to you on the web the better (as long as they are real).
Take a few minutes and think about people of value from your past who you might link with. Search for their names and invite them to reconnect. Then take the time to write them an endorsement (even a sentence is good). Your name is tied to this so make sure it is authentic and also reflects well on you. If you keep doing this and helping people your own endorsements will grow over time and be well earned. Endorsements of you initiated by others are obviously best. You really don’t want to ask for an endorsement unless you are clear they would love to give you one and are simply looking for an opportunity.
Look for professional associations or groups such as your college on LinkedIn and if they are not listed encourage them to”register.” My own college St. Andrews is not listed and I am working on getting them to sign up. This “group” feature of LinkedIn is very important. It lets you gain contact with all the members of that group to build relationships if appropriate. As you set up for your own “LinkedIn” web link be sure it reflects your real name. When you sign up for an account, you are assigned a random number that designates your profile page on LinkedIn. You can then go into your profile settings and change that number so that instead of http://www.linkedin.com/pub/1/712/a78, you would have a personal link like mine: http://www.linkedin.com/in/martinbrossman . You can and should add this to your website and email address.
Understand and use the questions area. People are wonderfully generous about helping other LinkedIn.com members. Ask questions of things you think the members may be able to help you with and answer some of the questions if you can. You may be known as an “expert” over time in that area.
Also, have some fun. I found a distant cousin in Australia of whom I was completely unaware of. I have looked up people who took training programs that turned out to be of great value to me and made some good friends that way. Remember to build your network and invest in it before you need it!
Let me know how YOU are using linkedin.com
You may enjoy the current article in the News & Observer about Linkedin.com. It is titled “Are You Linked?”