Let’s Talk LinkedIn
Happy 2013 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are ready to rock the new year. Because most of us are enjoying a short holiday week I wanted to keep it simple. I haven’t talked much about LinkedIn here so that’s what we’re breaking down today. Consider this your LinkedIn 100 course – what it is and how to get started.
LinkedIn is not Facebook and it’s not Twitter. LinkedIn is a social network for professional networking. It is not a place to share family photos, Instagram shots of your dinner, or you and the girls on your crazy trip to Las Vegas (which by the way don’t forget what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas ladies!). It is however a place to connect with former colleges, potential clients, and like-minded professionals.
LinkedIn can be an amazing tool, if you use it properly. I have heard from many folks though that this is the social network that they had the biggest “now what?” moment when they signed up. Many users sign up, log in and are at a bit of a loss. What is too much information, do I have enough information, do I really have to include every job I’ve ever had? These are just a few of the questions I’ve received when bringing up LinkedIn to clients, and the answer is always the same, that is totally up to you. There is no rule that says you have to include your high school job at the local Hot Dog on a Stick. Especially if you’re now 15 years older and 10 jobs later! Some of us spent our early career years working a variety of jobs. In my pre-entrepreneurship days I did everything from work in a movie theater, to sign bands for a web radio station, to sell commercial insurance. I even for a brief time worked for a company that sold knives door to door – granted I never actually made it out of training before my brain decided that a 19-year-old girl knocking on strangers doors with a box full of knives was a recipe for disaster. My background is nothing if not eclectic. The honest truth though is that none of those job experiences mattered when I launched my first business. And launching that business is when I started using LinkedIn, so they were not included. In reality now, my LinkedIn profile shows my roots of working as a freelancer for one of the many freelance sites available when I first started. And my first business, On Demand Virtual Assistant, and my current, re-branded business Hit the Mic Marketing. That’s it, and you know why? Because that is all that matters at this point in my professional life.
Once you have decided to include whatever job history, volunteer history, and educational background that makes sense for you it’s time to smile for the camera. This is something I mention with every social network, but it’s worth mentioning again. Upload a photo of you, not your logo, not your dog, not your kids, not your dinner – YOU! And in this case, I’d up your game and keep it professional. Now not everyone has a professional head shot ready to go – I understand, it’s still something sitting on my to do list (and is happening this month whoohoo). But do provide a photo that captures you in a nice light. I think we can all agree I’m not the most buttoned up girl in the world, so having a photo of me in a suit would be a lie. I chose the photo of me on LinkedIn (and all other social networks, and this website) to be a simple photo of me with a clean background, makeup on, and hair done. If you have a current more professional photo of yourself I’d highly recommend it. In fact random tip – head shots are not just for actors. Find a great local photographer and talk to them about bartering your services for a bit of their time. Also many new, but talented photographers need help building up their portfolio so if you agree they can use your photo in that portfolio they might give you a deal – it never hurts to ask, just make sure everyone leaves the deal a winner.
There you have it, by answers to the most common questions I hear about getting started with LinkedIn. Stay tuned because later this month we’re digging a bit deeper and talking about optimizing LinkedIn for maximum gain.
If you’re rocking LinkedIn I’d love to hear your thoughts for newbies, anything you wish you had known before you set up your profile?
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/thestaceyharris.