To be honest, we were quite surprised that it has been 10 years. For some reason, it feels like it wasn’t too long ago when Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly, and Jean-Luc Vaillant officially launched the site. But of course, if we’re talking about the most surprising thing about LinkedIn, it would have to be its somewhat meteoric rise from being a humble startup with only “4,500 members in its first month” to being a public company with over 200 million users today. There’s no denying that LinkedIn has changed the landscape of social networking. When someone mentions LinkedIn, nobody thinks of cat pictures or self-indulgent status updates; everyone understands that it’s the de facto site for professional networking and, as such, “discretion, judiciousness, and courtesy” are expected, just like in real-life business situations.
To help you get the most out of your LinkedIn presence and make sure that you do not compromise your business and personal brand, here are some tips that will help you enhance your LinkedIn profile.
If you are new to the site, LinkedIn University founder Josh Turner suggests completing your profile and taking your email contacts, exporting them into a CSV, and importing that CSV to LinkedIn. LinkedIn will then take care of sending invitations to those contacts so that you can save time—time, which you might probably spend on adding connections one by one.
After this, it’s time to get involved in the groups, particularly those in which your prospects are hanging out. Just be careful, as some groups are full of spam and offer no value whatsoever. If you can’t find a group that’s specific to your line of business, let’s say office phone system (read more) or customer service or marketing support solutions, you can start a new one and build it in such a way that people would flock to it to get or give relevant advice.
Always remember that there is a difference between personal and professional networking. In terms of building up your LinkedIn profile, it pays to use a recent picture that sends the message that you are ready to work full-time or ready to hobnob with the “big guys” (and gals!). That means “no dog, no husband/wife, no baby!” as explained by LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams. You should also customize your connection request as opposed to using LinkedIn’s default message so that your intended recipient (e.g. a potential boss or client) would feel like you are really serious about building professional relationships. (Bonus tip: Do a bit of research on that person and include pertinent details in your connection request.)
There’s no excuse for you to not use the LinkedIn app, since it’s available on major mobile platforms (Android, iPhone, and Blackberry). One way you could use the app is to use its excellent calendar function, which can sync with your work calendar. It will then “give you the profile info (including mutual contacts) for everyone you’re scheduled to meet with.” This should come in handy especially if you do not have an assistant who can keep track of your meetings and other appointments. Just don’t expect the LinkedIn app to offer “all the functionality of the full browser-based site.” Treat it as a supplementary tool that’s able to “perform most of LinkedIn’s primary functions and give access to its most frequently used tools.”
Says LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams, “When it comes to how many LinkedIn connections you should have, the magic number is 50.” Now it doesn’t mean you should stop at 50, just that 300 may be too many. Remember that it’s never a good idea to build your network only for it to be flooded with contacts that you don’t really know. 50 is a good target. With 50, you already have second- or third-degree connections, whom you can add to your network.
The author juggles being a wife to an engineer and a mother to a witty toddler. In her spare time, she involves herself in getting the word out about office phone systems. Find Monique on Google+.
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