How to Make the Most Out of LinkedIn

Last week, I attended the Career Thought Leaders Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Career management expert Jason Alba gave a fantastic presentation titled “LinkedIn: Underwhelmed.”

According to Alba, LinkedIn can be a huge asset to any professional, whether you’re job seeking or not. As with any application, there is always more you can do than just the basics. Here are a few things you can be doing to optimize your overall LinkedIn experience:

Updates and comment on statuses. This is probably the easiest thing you can do on LinkedIn apart from completing your profile. Updating your status shows your connections (and even hiring managers and recruiters) that you’re actually utilizing the platform, rather than just updating it when you need a job. You could also link your Twitter account and sync the updates, cementing your online presence. Further, commenting on the statuses of your connections is another way you can optimize LinkedIn because you are actually utilizing the core of the site: networking and molding relationships.

Make the most out of groups. Groups are a great way to interact with your connections and network with those in your industry. Join alumni groups, engage in discussions and help those who need resources and information. You could take this one step further and actually create a group of your own. How impressive will it look if you can say you created and maintained a group of a certain amount? It shows your leadership. Alba also recommends joining 50 groups to really make the most out of your LinkedIn experience. Bottom line: It’s all about getting your name out there, and using groups to their full potential is another way to promote yourself and the knowledge you hold.

Research and follow companies. Interested in the tech industry? Want to work for one of the big three finance firms? The most useful information may not be found on a company’s website or networking events, but on their LinkedIn page. An organization’s LinkedIn page doesn’t just show company headquarters and mission statements. It also shows recent departures and job openings…things that regular sites just don’t show. Research and follow the companies you’re interested in; it may be the key to gaining insider knowledge.

Ask and answer questions. Posing questions on LinkedIn is sort of like engaging in discussion boards on other websites, except the people are more knowledgeable because they’re likely to be in your industry. Take this step to the next level and also answer other people’s questions to not only help them, but also show your expertise.

Give meaningful recommendations. The beauty of LinkedIn lies in its ability for users to provide and receive recommendations. These recommendations could be the reason a hiring manager researches you more or a recruiter contacts you. However, don’t just ask your network for recommendations and think your job is done. You should provide members of your network with meaningful recommendations because other people also need that extra push to get noticed. Further, when you provide a stellar testimonial for an old colleague or contact, chances are they will remember the favor and will be willing to help you out in the future.

How else can we make the most out of LinkedIn?

James Alexander is Vizibility’s founder and CEO. He’s the guy with two first names. If you ‘Googled’ his name in 2009, you would never have found him. Now, he ranks within the first few results of a Google search. Find James in Google at vizibility.com/james.

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