With more than 150 million professionals as members, the LinkedIn networking service is, for my money, an essential part of any professional’s basic social networking “kit”.
But as a few recent conversations have shown me, not everyone gets that.
It seems there are many who see LinkedIn as little more than a place for people to post their resumes and for headhunters to look for the resumes they would like to find.
Whereas LinkedIn offers much more than that.
It’s by no means just a job board, although it can be and is used, quite extensively, for that.
As LinkedIn’s own definition explains:
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network …. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.
So the idea is by no means that you just post your resume there. For one thing, that would presumably make LinkedIn useless for all those people who are not looking for a job and do not see themselves doing so in the foreseeable future (putting aside wider issues such as the disappearance of the “lifetime job”).
Rather than just posting your resume, it is a place to establish your presence.
And then get active on the platform. Participate. Engage.
Because if you read that LinkedIn self-definition, you’ll notice it is not so much about displaying your employment history as it is about action – the platform is meant to help us “exchange knowledge, ideas and opportunities…”.
Photos and discussion in groups: LinkedIn goes social
There was a time when LinkedIn was more of an online directory and not structured for interaction beyond the basics of inviting, contacting, introducing and recommending. And there were no photos. An early Facebook it was not.
Eventually, LinkedIn became more social. In late 2007 there was the milestone of providing for profile photos (only one per person and rules to keep it all professional – this was not going to be a photo sharing site).
And if I’m not mistaken, it was not until some time after November 2008 that the greater “socializing” of LinkedIn Groups, i.e. more flexibility about establishing groups and provision for discussion forums, came into play.
Now the groups – which number well over one million, with memberships from 1 to hundreds of thousands – are places of discussion, promotion and networking. These days a group can be set up with a few keystrokes and no process of seeking approval.
Admittedly, with such an explosion of interaction has come a lot of spam, although the group management tools provided by LinkedIn give managers of groups the power to limit or block most or all of the spam.
The groups cover a wide range of professional interests. Some are locally based, others quite international. There is a groups directory which you can access by clicking on the Groups tab at the top of your LinkedIn page, once you are logged in to your account.
Diving in is a good idea
It’s a regular experience for me that, having explained and other features of present-day LinkedIn, someone will say “I suppose I had better think about using it more”. Considering that a few of these people actually seem interested but give the impression they might need to do some studying as well as thinking, before they take action, I’ve decided that when I next hear that “thinking about it” comment I’ll say “don’t think about it, just dive in!”.
And for anyone who is a bit nervous about the diving in approach, or indeed anyone just wanting a few pointers on how to get more active on LinkedIn and leverage their membership for the good of their business or career, there’s my free guide, 5 Simple Steps for Getting Started with LinkedIn.