If you’re not on LinkedIn now, you’ll regret it later

[Time to read:  4 minutes]

This is the 1st in a series of posts on how to use LinkedIn to build your online profile.
Part 1: why a LinkedIn profile is useful.
Part 2: how to write your own. 
Part 3: tricks to get the most out of your profile once it’s up and running.


Many keystrokes have been devoted to explaining how you can use LinkedIn and other tools to build your online presence and find a job. It’s not all hype: LinkedIn – if used correctly – can be a great help. Here’s how.

1. Connections. It’s hard to overstate the value of connections – so far, I’ve gotten three jobs through them. More importantly, they open up the wide world of mentoring possibilities, one of the best ways to grow professionally. At the very least, a connection can provide you with some sort of inside scoop that will help you in the job hunt: who the interviewer is, whether internal candidates are being considered for the job, etc.

2. Permission marketing for job seekers. Seth Godin coined the term, and here’s how he describes it: “Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” Google Search uses permission marketing, because the ads they show you depend on the search terms you enter. Email subscriptions, Facebook groups, Twitter followings – they all hinge upon active choices made by the customer.

The benefits of this approach? Among other things, more receptive customers, who on some level have already said yes to what you’re selling when they could have said no. The trick is therefore to find out who wants what you’re offering, look for places where they congregate, and put yourself in front of them at the opportune moment.

Apply this to the job search: you are selling your skills and experience, and employers are looking to buy. Now consider that LinkedIn has a network of over 135 million people, where employers can browse at their own pace, and you can continuously update your profile as you gain experience or change strategy. This is a good opportunity to sell yourself.

But while the people who are hiring can use LinkedIn to learn about you, you can learn things too – like an employer’s interests, a company’s hiring histories, or the movers and shakers in your industry who would be good people to know. Useful information that you can use to sell yourself even better.

3. The bigger picture. If permission marketing is so great, why limit it to the job hunt? Not everyone is looking for a job. Established professionals, freelancers and entrepreneurs can all use LinkedIn to build a professional or business profile. You can join industry groups, answer questions from your field, accumulate client testimonials, and in general, leave a trail of breadcrumbs that demonstrate competence and give people a reason to do business with you.

For more ideas, check out this great post that Guy Kawasaki wrote about how to make LinkedIn work for you.

4. Protect your brand. In our day and age, Google is the first thing people use to find out about you. The bad news: some of the things you’ve put on the Internet were ill-advised. The good news: you can be proactive and tilt modern-day branding in your favour, first by removing the bad stuff, and then by putting material out there that portrays you in a better light. Use a personal blog or – you guessed it – a public LinkedIn profile, to tell the story about yourself that you want to tell.

So…

Do you have a LinkedIn profile? What do you think of LinkedIn in general? Anything I missed?

If I have convinced you to update your profile or create a new one from scratch, then stay tuned for Part 2, where I’ll show you how I recently updated my own LinkedIn profile.

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