Are you a LinkedIn Skeptic?

In the beginning, I was skeptical of LinkedIn.  

To figure out if creating a profile and maintaining another social media site would be worth my time, I interviewed colleagues with active LinkedIn profiles. The good news is that after the initial time investment of creating a profile, maintaining a presence on the site requires a very small time commitment.

And the best part… the value is incredibly high!

For those of you who haven’t taken the plunge, give your career a boost by creating a profile. Then spend 15 minutes 3 – 5 times a week engaging on the site.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

 Create a profile that tells a story - The most effective pages I’ve seen aren’t resume dumps. You get to know the person through the information shared.

Build your network - Begin by connecting with current colleagues and previous co-workers. Remember to include friends and family into your online network. Once you have a few contacts, LinkedIn will help by recommending “people you may know”.

 Connect often - Make a mental note to send connection requests anytime new professional introductions have been made. Opportunities generally arise during these types of events:

o   Training classes

o   Project work

o   Networking events

o   Conferences

o   Association chapter meetings

o   Any gathering of business professionals

Personalize the invitation - It connects with people on a different level and makes the receiver feel like your interest is genuine. 

Before you start sending those invitations, there are a few “don’ts” to keep in mind.

Never do these things:

Send invitations to people you don’t know - Most people won’t accept invitations from professionals they haven’t met.

 Connect too soon – This applies when sending a connection request to people inside the company you work for. Wait until you’ve had more than a five-minute discussion to reach out. It's more comfortable to receive an invitation after several conversations or while working on a joint project.

Use LinkedIn as a dating site - Yes, it happens… and it’s infuriating, creepy, unprofessional, and off-putting.

Fail to upload a photo - A profile picture will help people find you. LinkedIn users want to be certain they are connecting with the right person. Even though LinkedIn is a professional site, it is social media. A picture helps make your profile more approachable and your content (updates, likes, shares, etc.) easier to associate with you.

Use hashtags (#) - LinkedIn is not designed to search by the use of hashtags. When posting the same content to Twitter or Instagram, engage with these sites separately. The use of hashtags on LinkedIn looks unprofessional and demonstrates that the user doesn’t understand how the site works.

Remember, your brand is being built every post, comment, like, share, and update. Be professional, engage with others in the community, and enjoy the benefits of building your network. 

For photo pitfalls to avoid, check out A Picture Paints 1,000 Words. Is Your LikedIn Profile Swearing?

Do you find LinkedIn valuable? Share your thoughts on this social media site in the comments.