As a career advisor, the number one question that I was always asked in my coaching sessions was, “do I really need a LinkedIn profile?”. The short answer is yes and no. Let me explain. Yes, in 2016 you absolutely should have a LinkedIn profile but only if you actually plan to use it. Ask yourself this: do you need a Twitter account if you don’t plan on tweeting anything? Do you need an Instagram profile if you don’t like taking pictures? Of course not, that would be a waste of time. LinkedIn works the exact same way: having a profile is not enough, you have to actually use it.
As it stands, there aren’t many laws governing the cyberverse. It’s a wild west of name searches, lurking, digging, and using info to your advantage. For many employers, LinkedIn is an easy and free way to find out more about an applicant and it’s legal. Sure in some ways your LinkedIn profile acts as a digital resume, but it should be a living document. The beauty of LinkedIn is that the more you use your account, the more information about you spreads. The more that info spreads, the more people who see it, the more likely you are to be contacted with opportunities. Did you catch that? YOU could be contacted with opportunities. Meaning, you don’t always have to be the first to initiate a step toward your success. Here are some of my favorite LinkedIn features that you should be taking advantage of:
- Status updates: unlike Facebook where a ‘like’ is only that, anyone who likes or comments on your LinkedIn status essentially shares your status with their entire network. In graduate school, I posted how excited I was about graduation and suddenly my inbox was flooded with congratulatory wishes and invitations to apply for jobs. A simple post can leave a huge digital footprint. More bang for your buck, so post your good news and watch how many other people see it and like it, too! Which leads me to my next point…
- Profile views: If your account is public (because it definitely should be) then you can see almost every person that somehow has found their way to your profile. By checking your profile views, you’ll know everyone that might be interested in you and can send that person a connection request to let the networking begin. Unlike your Facebook page, there’s no reason you should want to keep your resume a secret. That would be counterintuitive and keeps anyone from knowing how awesome and qualified you are! Usually when someone views my page and I can see that we have things in common, I connect with them for future reference. Remember this: a private LinkedIn page is like refusing to tell anyone that you’re on the market for a great job. So leave your page public and see who’s finding you.
- Find alumni: LinkedIn allows you to view a college or university’s profile and narrow down the thousands and thousands of alumni to find the ones in the city, job, or field that you’re interested in. These alumni can be searched based on: where the live, where they work, what they do, what they studied, what they’re skilled at, and any mutual connections you might have with them. These are the key people who you’d want to connect with online; they’re the ones you can learn from. So instead of aimlessly adding people, you can target who to add to your professional circle.
So aside from creating this profile (which you’re going to do now, right?), you should be logging in, posting, sharing, liking, and connecting with others at least once a week!