…and of course the second question is, “SHOULD you be on LinkedIn?”
What is LinkedIn?
To answer these questions, you first need to understand this social media platform. LinkedIn was originally launched in May 2003, primarily for the purpose of person-to-person professional networking (job/candidate search). LinkedIn has morphed over the years to try to emulate other social networking sites. However, in my opinion, it is still primarily a way to network one-to-one with current and past co-workers, look for jobs, and find candidates to fill open requisitions at one’s company.
To network on LinkedIn, you will need to create a personal profile. You then tell your fellow job seekers and job creators who you are by uploading the components of your resume that you desire to share. Note: Keep your full resume and your LinkedIn resume in sync. Employers will check, and it raises unnecessary questions if dates, job titles, or other key information is inconsistent.
One of the ways that LinkedIn has tried to compete with other social networking sites is to create a Company Profile page. Eclectic Verve, LLC has a Company Profile, but in my opinion, this functionality isn’t very exciting. If you want to post press releases or job openings, this might be somewhat useful, but you still have to convince your employees to claim the Company profile as their employer and your customers, suppliers, etc. to follow you for this to be truly useful.
Once your personal profile is setup, start connecting with your friends and co-workers (current and past) by sending invitations to connect with you—either en masse or one by one.
Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to write a short update and share a link. The difference is that (thankfully!) you won’t see posts about what your LinkedIn connections are having for dinner. These updates are intended to be more professional than personal.
Another way LinkedIn has attempted to compete with Facebook and other similar social networking sites is by adding “Groups”. Groups are moderated discussions about a specific topic (e.g., Music Publishing And Licensing).
With the tag line, “The day’s top news, tailored for you”, LinkedIn Today is a dashboard of business stories, somewhat like Mashable.
Don’t forget security. Decide whether you want everyone to be able to see your profile or just your connections, your e-mail preferences, and other settings.
There is More
LinkedIn has more functionality than I’ve outlined above. I’ve just outlined the basics to help you determine whether or not you want to create a LinkedIn profile. If you decide in the affirmative, you can decide for yourself what additional functionality you want to utilize.
So, back to my original question, “Are you and should you be on LinkedIn?” Of course the answer is, “It depends”.
- If you’re in corporate America, then the answer is probably “Yes”. It’s a good way to stay connected with people who might be able to help you fill an open job requisition or help you find your next great job opportunity. Words to the wise: Setup your profile BEFORE you’re actively seeking a new job, so as not to tip off your current employer of your plans to exit.
- If you’re not in corporate America (e.g., full time band member) then LinkedIn is probably a waste of your time. Since Kent and I both started in corporate America, we have LinkedIn profiles, and we created a Company profile for Eclectic Verve, LLC. If we didn’t have this prior experience, we probably wouldn’t be on LinkedIn.
What do YOU think? Do YOU have a LinkedIn profile? What has your experience been with this social networking site?