At various times, LinkedIn.com has been referred to as something you use only when you job-search, or as an online resume, or as a professional Facebook. All these descriptions undersell LinkedIn’s true purpose.
Why these descriptions fall short:
- To be true, if you are searching for a new job, LinkedIn can be extremely valuable. But more so, even if you never change employers, LinkedIn can help you do your job better and advance within your current company.
A resume is a story as to why you are uniquely qualified for a particular position – what you are good at. LinkedIn allows you to create a professional profile – what you want to be known for.
Facebook encourages you to connect with friends, family, and – increasingly – the brands and companies with which you interact. LinkedIn encourages you to connect with anyone who can help you advance your career.
A better description:
LinkedIn, more correctly, should be thought of as a career management tool.
With LinkedIn, you can:
- Create and control your professional profile – what you want to be known for. This may include all or part of your work history, education, volunteer or pro bono experience, or hobbies. You will have to back up your claims with demonstrated achievements, but if you want to redirect or outright change careers, LinkedIn allows you to claim it. (PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT saying you can alter or make up a professional history that is not your own. I AM saying you can choose what, if anything, from your professional experience you want to highlight.)
Connect and interact with present and past colleagues, managers, subordinates, suppliers, and customers. And, to connect with anyone who can help you, even if you don’t know them personally. (In turn, those who think you can help them may connect with you.)
Demonstrate your knowledge and expertise through sharing your awards or publications, and by participating in Group discussions.
Give and receive written Recommendations and Endorsements.
Research companies and organizations you might want to join, or with whom to do business.
I hasten to add, LinkedIn is a tool. It is not the end result. You still must do your job well if you are employed, or network and get in front of employers if you are not. You can, of course, have a long and successful career without using LinkedIn. However, as a tool, I have not found one better.
I will use the next several posts to discuss how you can maximize your LinkedIn potential. If you have any questions about LinkedIn, or success stories, please share them in the comments.
Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.