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LinkedIn, one of the top social media sites for professionals, has become a social media powerhouse with more than 75 million members in more than 200 countries. It’s the go-to site for recruiters looking to fill positions, executives looking for opportunities, and entrepreneurs looking for prospective clients. If a LinkedIn profile exists, more often than not, it’s one of the top five results in a search, upping the ante on its importance for a professional’s virtual presence.
“Because they have such a great ranking, LinkedIn is often one of the first sites that come up when someone Googles themselves,” says Lindsey Pollak, a global spokesperson for LinkedIn and author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World (Harper Paperbacks; $13.99).
Pollak offers these tips for maximizing resources on LinkedIn:
- Customize your connection requests. Don’t just use the default generic message when inviting someone to connect with you. It’s best to put a personalized touch so that the person you’re trying to network with feels you put special effort into contacting them, Pollak says.
- Take full advantage of the jobs feature. This is not your typical job search function. With LinkedIn, you can utilize your connections to find jobs in networks of those you are already connected to. Also, using the Request Referral tool, you can see who in your network connects you to a job poster and request an introduction.
- Don’t be sloppy with your profile. An incomplete one shows you’re not taking LinkedIn seriously. Also, typos or overuse of casual language looks both unprofessional and are a bad reflection. Be sure the information you have is presented at its best, including having a complete headline, a full account of your work experience, your resume uploaded, and proper formatting for someone reading it.
- Don’t be too self-absorbed when networking. Social networking is about engagement, says Pollak. “No one wants to network with someone only talking about their projects, their life, their plans.” Be open to dialogue and express interest in your networks’ professional insights, projects, and pursuits.
- Update your status at least once a week, Pollak recommends, so people can stay up-to-date on what you’re doing and know that you’re actively engaged. Also, regularly participate in groups and forums. It’s a great way to share ideas and connect with others who are part of your profession, she adds.