The Story of LinkedIn shows its evolution from how the website has kept adding new features and made itself the best place for finding jobs to having individual profiles to company pages to launching apps on all major mobile platforms to more evolution which is a continuous process with the company.
LinkedIn has constantly evolved and kept itself relevant by being the de facto standard of the professional online presence for people worldwide. While most people tried to write it off with several developments stating different reasons, LinkedIn has proved that this is a model which can survive the dotcom busts.
LinkedIn offers a lot of features and there are some which are underutilized or never utilized by both individuals and companies. Most people echo a sentiment of “I am on there but I don’t know how to use it or why to use it or what to use it for.” Or “I know my colleagues and everyone else at my workplace and they know my email id so why should I be on LinkedIn.” But according to some data enlisted on this article on Forbes 98% of recruiters and 85% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to find candidate.
This article would highlight some of the solid reasons of why LinkedIn should be a prime focus and should occupy a prominent place in terms of resource allocation for most individuals and companies in their online social media strategies.
Professional use of LinkedIn by an individual
- Visually appealing professional online presence- LinkedIn provides great tools to make sure that the profiles look amazing and beautiful. A professional headline with a picture and name is what people see on LinkedIn and so it’s vital to spend some time on those elements to make it visually appealing. A professional looking headshot, succinct and compelling headline which could almost be considered as a mini elevator pitch and creative use of this limited space will all form key elements of a great looking profile. A background picture has been recent addition and again gives creative liberty for profiles on LinkedIn.
- Showcase noteworthy work which might not fit in a Resume- Resumes are mostly hard copies and can’t showcase a lot of work which media like videos, images, PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, etc. can and as such to showcase more than just plain text for an individual and to market himself properly, LinkedIn can be a great avenue. You can upload various media files on to LinkedIn and which get reflected with a person’s profile. Moreover, there are additional sections like Volunteering, Courses, and Certifications, which allow you to feature other relevant skills.
- Research a company or an individual you are about to meet- You can use LinkedIn to find out more about people or organizations you will be meeting with. LinkedIn started company pages in 2010 with a select few companies having their pages showcasing the work environment, culture, job opportunities with them and more details. Since then it has really taken off and has become one of the most used features of the site both by individuals and by companies themselves. The individuals try and find if they have some one known working at a company or someone who can connect them with an existing employee of the company and the companies promote themselves on LinkedIn as the best place to work and more.
- Build a Valuable network and snoop- LinkedIn wants a lot of people to use its services and if the professional graph grows, everyone profits. The companies registered on it find a talented pool of candidates, the people registered on it find great companies and information about it and LinkedIn can monetize and sell data to advertisers and companies. Thus it’s a win-win situation for the stakeholders. LinkedIn has an inbuilt email import system which imports contacts from your email accounts, it suggests contacts that you may know and even common connections at 2nd or 3rd level of contact list, besides previous company colleagues.
Once you have a good network of connections you can snoop and look at the employees of the company you wish to apply for and get insights from them or if you are looking at a specific industry you can join industry related groups or connect with people in that industry. Also try and reach out people on email or through Facebook because the general tendency of people on LinkedIn is to use it sparingly.
- Share profile across Social networks- LinkedIn knows that it is not the biggest social network and recognizes this well by adding the Facebook and twitter layer all over itself. You can have your social media profile links on LinkedIn and can update status on there and share it on twitter as well. Though LinkedIn is a great tool for Professional networking you can always supplement it with other social networks to sell yourself well as an individual to the company. It can also work great if the individual share the LinkedIn profile to other websites and promotes him through other avenues. This can be in email signatures or official website column of most profile.
- Follow Thought Leaders- In 2012, LinkedIn released a new feature whereby it allowed individuals and companies to follow certain people called Thought Leaders and it was a huge success. Following Thought leaders is a good practice because it shows what interests an individual and can give an idea about his/her personality to the companies interested in hiring them. Moreover, the fact that the stories that these people share are always interesting, inspirational and encouraging is an added bonus. This practice makes a good impression and is one of the new additions to LinkedIn that was born of the continuous evolving of the website.
LinkedIn as a website is still evolving and always adding more features continuously. The easiest way to be aware of the latest developments is through their blog or to follow them on their social media profiles like Twitter handle or Facebook page. Individuals can use the website for social branding in so many creative ways which remain an unchartered territory most of the time.