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10 ways to use LinkedIn better

May 10, 2010

  I’m on LinkedIn, now what?  Bet you never heard that before, huh?  🙂  I have …. and more than I care to admit.  I hate to see people struggling, so here’s 10 quick tips to a better you:

1.       Visibility:  By adding profile connections, a picture, a snappy tag line, and a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) section in your Summary you increase the likelihood that people will see your profile first (or at least on the first page) when they’re searching forsomeone just like you to hire, or simply do business with.  In addition to appearing at the top of search results, people would much rather work with/hire people who they know, and like.

2.       Connectability:  Most new users put only their current company in their profile.  By doing so, they severely limit their ability to connect with people, or for other people to connect with them.  You should fill out your profile like it’s an extension of their resume, or executive bio, so include past companies, education, affiliations, activities, etc.  But, only go back 15 years max.  If you must list something from before that, like schooling, simply leave the dates off.  You can also include a link to your profile as part of an email signature.  The added benefit is that the link enables people to see your credentials should they wish to know more about you, and your potential contributions to what they need.

3.       Google Ranking:  LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index.  Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high Page Ranking on Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you, or someone like you.  And, yes, people do look other people up to find out more about them.  To do this, create a public profile, and select “Full View,” under Settings.  Also, instead of using the default URL (with numbers), customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name, if possible.  To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web.  For example, when you comment in a blog, include your LinkedIn profile link in your signature.  [tweetmeme source=”@Aidan_Foley” only_single=false]

4.       SEO:  In addition to your name, you can also promote your blog, or website to search engines like Google, and Yahoo.  Your LinkedIn profile allows you to publicize websites.  There are a few pre-selected categories like “My Website,” “My Company,” etc.  If you select “Other” you can modify the name of the link, which is highly advisable.  If you’re linking to your personal blog, include your name, or descriptive terms in the link, and voila – instant search engine optimization for your site.  To make this work, be sure your public profile setting is set to “Full View,” under Settings.  Additionally, add a SEO section to your Summary, and add whatever someone would use to find someone “just like you”.  It’s fun, and you’ll be surprised by the results.  For example, a Recruiter could also be known as HR, Human Resources, Staffing Specialist, Talent Acquisition, Generalist, Head Hunter, etc.

5.       Company Reference Checks:  LinkedIn’s reference check tool allows the user to input a company name, and request a recommendation.  Your search may find the people who worked at the company during the same time period as you.  Companies will typically check your references before hiring you, but have you ever thought of checking your prospective manager’s references?  See what people say about them; it may give you an angle that can prove valuable during your interview.  You can also check up on the company itself by finding the person who used to have the job that you’re interviewing for.  Do this by searching for job title, and company, but be sure to uncheck “Current titles only.”  By contacting people who use to hold the position, you can get the inside scoop on the job, the manager,  and growth potential within the department.

6.       Job Search Relevance:  Use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search option to find people with educational, and work experience like yours to see where they work.  For example, an Engineer could use search keywords such as “Engineer,” “Catia,” “PMP,” and “EVM” to find out where other Project Manager Mechanical Engineers with these skill sets may work.

7.       Smoother Interview:  You can use LinkedIn to find the people who you’re interviewing with.  It shows great initiative because you’re coming prepared.  Knowing that you went to the same school, plays hockey, or shares acquaintances is a lot better than an awkward silence after, “I’m doing fine, thank you.”  Also, if the people who are interviewing you are not on LinkedIn, or have poor profiles, you can check in on others who might be the “influencers” to the hiring manager, such as Current Employees, New Hires, Former Employees, Recent Promotions, and Popular Company Profiles.  A prior Informational Interview with one of the “influencers” would be a great way to find out what your new position may be like.

8.       Company Health:  Perform an Advanced Search for Company name and uncheck the “Current Companies Only” box.  This will enable you to scrutinize the rate of turnover, and whether key people are abandoning the ship.  It’s been said, that Former Employees usually give more candid opinions about a company’s prospects than someone who’s still working there.

9.       Keep your Connections Informed:  If you are a Job Seeker in transition, you can keep your name in front of people with a monthly update Message of what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you plan to do.  Just keeping your name in front of people will remind them that you’re still in the job hunt, and will allow for your network connections to work for you.

10.     Groups:  Join some LinkedIn Groups that coincide with your background and interests.  By joining, and getting involved it shows a little about what kind of person you are.  Anyone looking over your profile can do a quick review of your groups, and get a sense of who you are.

Hopefully these quick tips will prove successful for you, as they have for me.  Please visit my LinkedIn profile:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/afoley  If you would like a connect, be advised I only connect to Engineers, Recruiters, Decision Makers, and folks that I’ve actually met along the way.  But, with that being said, I would love to help you with your profile.  Just let me know what I can do for you?

11.  Bonus Tip:  When requesting an invite, ALWAYS change the “generic” invite.  Do not make the other guy/gal figure out why you wish to connect.

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