#SocialRecruiting Series: Best Practices for #LinkedIn

By Philip J.W. Smith

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Of all the social media platforms, in all the towns, in all the world, LinkedIn is the strongest player in the social recruiting scene.

LinkedIn may be described as a professional social communication platform, which is comparable to Facebook in that you can post status updates and view other people’s profiles. Rather than acquiring “friends” on LinkedIn, you make “connections” with other professionals and colleagues.

The major difference between LinkedIn and Facebook, is the professional context that is inherent to the very inner workings and participants of the platform. For example, one’s LinkedIn profile is much like an online resume - describing one’s professional accomplishments and educational journey.

A common misconception about LinkedIn is that you need to be looking for a new role or job to justify being an active participant on the platform.

Au contraire.

LinkedIn certainly will help you acquire a new role, but at the same time, it allows you a venue to document your career milestones and accomplishments, collaborate with colleagues, network with clients, and yes - even find yourself passively recruited by a headhunter because you are the perfect fit for a role you didn’t even know about!

To be sure you avoid mistakes documented by writer Tom Searcy in his post entitled, The 7 Things You’re Doing Wrong, found on the Inc. Magazine site, consider implementing the following ideas and strategies to get the most out of your LinkedIn participation:

1. Think Personal Branding, Not Resume
As much as a LinkedIn profile resembles a resume, indeed, one’s profile assumes more of a personal marketing role than that of a traditional curriculum vitae. For example, on one’s LinkedIn profile, it would not be considered improper for one to document professional experience in the first person and using full sentences.

2. Make Good Use of the Summary; Be Creative
Again, do not approach your LinkedIn profile in the same way you would a resume. Feel free to be creative, and use the summary section in the same way you would use the “Bio” section of a Twitter profile or the “About Me” section in a Facebook profile. In other words, brag a little!

3. Write in Authentic First Person
Authenticity is the key to success on any social communication platform. People best respond with positive and fruitful interaction when one’s personality is consistent both online and offline.

4. Follow Companies You Are Interested In
Whether or not you are looking for a job, it never hurts to notice and be noticed by companies you respect and admire. Join conversations and leave comments when these companies post articles or discussions. Who knows - your dream company may come a knockin’ at your door when its ready to make its next hire!

5. Join Groups
One of LinkedIn’s greatest strengths is its ability to grow your personal network. There is not better way to add connections to your network than to meet new people. How do you meet new people? Through groups. Join groups that relate to your field and professional experience. Be active in discussions, polls, and posts too. For those looking to achieve a level of recognized expertise, this may give you the audience you so desire.

6. Follow “Today’s Stories”
If you want to stay in-the-loop on trending topics, discussion, and schools of thought in your sector, be sure to follow LinkedIn’s “Today’s Stories” feature to have highly influential articles delivered straight to you.

7. Engage Your Network
Just like there is no use in having a Facebook profile and friends if you aren’t going to interact with your friends, there is similarly no use to having a LinkedIn profile if you aren’t going to engage or interact with your network. Reach out now and again to your connections whether it be to congratulate them on a new role or achievement, to book a coffee, or just to stay in touch.

8. Explain What your Company Does
There is literally no use to having a LinkedIn profile and listing that you are the “President” of a Company XYZ if we don’t even know what your company does. Be creative and be descriptive. Remember, at its core, LinkedIn purposes to engage and connect, so give people a reason to engage and connect with you!

9. Make Good Use of a Profile Tagline; Not Just Title
Similar to the “Summary” section, be creative and direct in using a profile tagline. Again, this is an area in your profile where you’re expected to brag! Think: “Winner of Prestigious Award”; or “Making a Difference”; or “The Stealth Recruiter”.

10. Upload a Professional Photo
As much as you would like to think that people don’t judge a book by its cover - you’re wrong, and they will judge you based on your profile photo. Be sure your profile photo is worthy of representing you to the masses that comprise the mighty LinkedIn social network. 

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