5 ways to advance your career with LinkedIn

Many professionals have realised that the internet and social networking can be one of the most useful tools to help advance their careers.

With internet connections and data plans available on many smartphones, it’s easy to see why these websites appeal to millions, including employees and job hunters.

LinkedIn, a now popular social network that prides itself on its focus on career development and establishing connections among professionals, is one of the most popular networking sites among both the young and old.

Launched way back in May 2003, LinkedIn has gained momentum ever since, due in part to the site’s profile options and use of over 20 languages.

1. LinkedIn is more than making online friends

LinkedIn is not the most popular, most attractive, or most accessed social networking site, but it is definitely the most important one for those focusing on their careers. It has over 300 million users, with 100 million of them in the US alone.

How you can use LinkedIn: Learn to use LinkedIn to market yourself to possible employers and to connect with like-minded professionals so that you can take full advantage of what the site offers.

2. Create a complete profile and update it regularly

One of the ways LinkedIn can help professionals is by letting recruiters and possible employers gain access to your professional profile. They can see your work experience, education, career goals, and employment profile. These potential employers want to see profiles that provide loads of details about one’s professional life. They will make judgements and decisions based on what they read in your profile and how you market yourself on LinkedIn.

How you can use LinkedIn: Be as thorough as you can in your profile when you create your LinkedIn account. Do not spare important details and provide all relevant information that possible employers might look for. Use display pictures and words that make you look professional. Put relevant updates on your profile regularly so that everyone following you can see what you are doing professionally. This is the best way to take advantage of your LinkedIn profile.

3. Do not forget your network connections

Just like with Facebook, you can establish many connections in your LinkedIn account. Many people have a tendency to connect with other people on LinkedIn and forget about them after a few weeks, months, or years. Remember that your relationship with these people should not end after a few days of inactivity or after you resign from a job as maintaining these connections can help you in the future.

You never know when a former colleague might be looking for someone to fill up a job opening at a prestigious company. LinkedIn is about networking in a professional atmosphere, and you cannot network if you always forget about your connections.

How you can use LinkedIn: Go through your list of LinkedIn connections every now and then to maintain a professional relationship with them. Try to look at the quality of people, not how many you are connected to. Pay close attention to the people in your network because they might be able to help you in your professional life.

4. Go beyond the internet when the time is right

While connecting to people on LinkedIn is important, meeting your contacts in person can give off a more professional and personal vibe compared to just sending messages online.

Meeting face to face will make you a more memorable and influential contact to other people in your network. Many people tend to disregard actual physical meetings with their LinkedIn contacts without realising that setting up an actual meeting can benefit them greatly.

How you can use LinkedIn: Remember that timing is key when you invite LinkedIn contacts to meet you. Think about how much your relationship has progressed on LinkedIn and whether or not your contact is game to meet you offline. An offline relationship might open you up to more career-related opportunities and other contacts you might not otherwise find on LinkedIn.

5. Recommending professionals

One of the most popular features you can find on LinkedIn is its “recommend” feature. This feature allows LinkedIn users to give commendations and to recommend some of their contacts to other people.

It is a useful function because it lets other users, including potential employers, know the opinion of other people on a certain person.

Also, remember that recommendations can be seen as favours by other people; and whenever you do someone a favour, there is a chance that person might repay you in the future with a recommendation of his or her own.

How you can use LinkedIn: Recommendations are a very effective tool when used properly. Try to include specific details about the person you are recommending; talk about their achievements, how they are effective, and mention a couple of their outstanding abilities.

Giving a recommendation should not be unsubstantial ego-rubbing that contains no useful professional details. You should also try and create short and informative recommendations even if the person who requested it is not a close contact. This saves you the trouble of explaining why you didn’t give a recommendation and might convince your contact to give you a great recommendation in the future.

This article first appeared in thenewsavvy.com

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