Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn for Business

By Rose Strong

When I first set up my LinkedIn account, I had no idea what it was about and for more than a year, LinkedIn nagged that my profile was less than 100 percent complete.  According to  a definition of LinkedIn provided in a MindTools article, there are ways to use LinkedIn to enhance your career growth and organize your professional network.

It took my being laid off from a job in 2011, to force me sit down and carefully review the site and see it has value. After months of viewing my incomplete profile every time I visited LinkedIn, it finally was time to set myself up with an expanded resume online. Getting the most out of LinkedIn is important for individuals and businesses alike. The Small Business Playbook includes a nice list of how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile.

One of the perks of using LinkedIn is that it is an online portfolio where you can add those little bits and pieces of your professional life that will help you demonstrate your corporate capabilities and potentially build business.

LinkedIn also gives you the chance to showcase your pro bono and volunteer work to demonstrate corporate responsibility and giving back to the community. Very often we forget that skills used in our out-of-the-office activities often can convert to those used in business, i.e., leadership, volunteer management, initiative and problem-solving, among others.

Now remember, if you’re setting up your profile, it should be in tip-top shape. Capitalize the first letters of your first and last name. Write in full sentences or clear bullet points. Use concise statements and by all means, proofread, proofread, proofread! This could be the first time someone sees your profile, and, just like client work product, it should be free of errors, fragments and boring prose. LinkedIn is a marketing tool helping you to market yourself and your business!

So you’ve set up your account, filled in your profile and even posted your professional head poshot to finish your profile. Now what?

LinkedIn has both free and premium (paid) accounts. I used the free account and I seemed to fare well in my professional networking. From my research, the benefits of a premium account would not be a value to me in my role as an office administrator. However, the CEO of our company, Furia Rubel, maintains a premium account as she is very data driven.

Do you have colleagues who will write you a recommendation? Ask them to do so and post it on your page. Caveat: Lawyers beware – in some states, recommendations and endorsements are considered a violation of professional conduct rules and can get you into hot ethical waters. There also is a section for skill endorsements for those who don’t wish to write a formal recommendation. Although neither of these are letters of reference, they provide objective third-party feedback.

A recent addition to LinkedIn profiles is the ability to post work achievements such as videos, presentations and other creative materials. My colleague, Kim Tarasiewicz posted the blog, “LinkedIn Portfolios for Business,” for The PR Lawyer last week.

If you’re seeking more info on how you can benefit from this professional networking platform for free, HubSpot has an extensive list of tips for making the most of LinkedIn. With more than 200 million people on the site, LinkedIn is well worth the time and effort to use as a marketing tool and one to take full advantage of in our digital world. 

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