The rapid growth of social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn has left many people uncertain as to how they should draw the line between professional and personal communications. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but if you follow a few rules of thumb, you’ll do a better job of managing a professional brand.
First off, if you aren’t familiar with it yet, LinkedIn is the most current destination for professional networking. It’s like the ultimate social and professional mixer that helps people connect through their career experiences.
Essentially, LinkedIn helps you to create a living resume that can help you get discovered by HR recruiters or former co-workers. So it is essential for you to market yourself properly.
The following are five easy tips for making the most of LinkedIn :
1. Be professional
Treat LinkedIn as you would any other workplace. Try to consider it as just another extension of your career, because for now, it kind of is. There are enough working professionals on LinkedIn that you must assume that everything you write is going to be seen and interpreted by some of your co-workers.
Separate your personal online life with your professional online life. There is the “work you” and the “home you.” Think of LinkedIn as the place for the work version of yourself.
2. Build a better resume :
Many people miss the opportunity to share what they did or do at their job because they only register a vague functional title description. Expand on what you did that went above and beyond the basic job task.
Tell how you improved something, saved money, or generally made something better. Don’t brag but don’t be shy either when you are talking about your “brand” identity.
LinkedIn gives you some feedback regarding the percentage complete of your profile. Seriously, get in there and make sure that it’s 100% complete and don’t forget to include a professionally appropriate photo of yourself.
3. Participate in the community :
LinkedIn is technically a social network, so go socialize. There are groups that organize around topics and industries. Join one or two of these LinkedIn groups and see if you like it.
Observe the community before you start blasting out your opinion on topics. Lurk for a while, see how the group operates, and then find ways to share your thoughts. Again, it’s a professional community, so be sure to carefully review what you post.
Spell check is your friend.
4. Answer (an ask!) some questions :
LinkedIn has an interesting feature where people can ask questions of the community and then anyone can answer. Theoretically, the people who are asking the question are actually soliciting advice from the LinkedIn community.
Other times they are just grandstanding to draw attention to themselves. Check out the question carefully and decide if you can actually add value by answering the question.
If you can add value, answer the question. It may help enhance your personal brand to share your professional knowledge and insight.
5. Connect responsibly :
If you are new to LinkedIn, you may be surprised at the number of requests you receive to connect with people. It’s not like Facebook, where you are probably connecting with family and close personal friends. LinkedIn is all business, which makes it a different kind of connection.
It’s better to connect with people that you know well enough to call a colleague or peer, so that the relationship has context. One day, you may need that connection, so you want it to be real and honest.
Just like Facebook, the rules around privacy and usage on LinkedIn will likely evolve with the needs of the user base. As LinkedIn grows and evolves, you’ll want to grow with it so start with a strong, basic foundation and then check back to see how the service evolves.
LinkedIn is part of your overall personal and professional brand footprint. Make sure to use it responsibly and effectively integrate it as part of your networking efforts.