Today, I had the honor of presenting LinkedIn 201 as a webinar for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA). LinkedIn was my first adventure into the world of social media back in early 2006 and has proven to be a very beneficial tool to me. With over 150,000,000 users, LinkedIn is the networking site for business professionals.
Here are some tips to get the most out of LinkedIn:
Complete Profile: Have a 100% completed profile. Have your picture posted, at least two relevant job positions and have two recommendations posted. List major accomplishments for each job position. A rather new feature – Skills & Expertise – allow you to list up to 50 different skills and is great place to list key terms that can help you stand out when other users search their connections. I am also a big fan of the Volunteer and Certification sections of the profile to highlight work that has been done to further our industry.
When setting up your account initially, I strongly recommend that you set your account as visible to others. LinkedIn has a feature where you can see who has looked at your profile recently. If you do not have your account visible, it shows as ANONYMOUS LINKEDIN USER. The purpose of LinkedIn is to increase connections, not serve as a barrier to future connections.
Connections: Actively build up your connections. Import your contact database into LinkedIn and invite them to connect. Return from a trade show or convention and invite people you met to connect. Be sure to edit the dry form letter and modify it to make it personable and recount how you know each other. The personal touch goes a long way.
Groups: There are over 200 groups on LinkedIn that are related to the events and hospitality field. LinkedIn limits you to only 50 groups, so choose wisely. While some groups have open membership, other may require you to be approved by the group manager before you can join. Groups are a great way to share or find information with peers, as well as to network with like minded professionals.
I am of the opinion that many associations don’t do enough with their group pages on LinkedIn. How cool would it be if speakers at the association’s conferences post discussion items in the months and weeks leading up to their physical presentation? It could increase attendance at the presentation and lead to a more vigorous dialog on the topic. Just food for thought…
Answers: LinkedIn has a Questions and Answers section, with several related categories – Business travel, venues, conference planning, event marketing, sustainability and non-profits, to name a few. Folks who post questions are given the option to rate the quality of the answers that they recieve from other users. If an answer you submitted is considered to be the best answer, you are awarded with Expertise on that subject matter. This shows on your user profile and are listed as an Expert on that topic page. A quick and fairly easy way to build up some credibility with fellow users.
Applications: LinkedIn has many add-on applications that you should consider using on your profile. The Amazon Reading List lets me highlight relevant industry publications. The My Travel application form TripIt allows my network to see my upcoming travel schedule. The Events application allows me to indicate what upcoming conferences I am attending and see who else might be attending – I’ve made several valuable contacts with this feature. In addition, you can have links to your WordPress blog and SlideShare presentations. I’ve only skimmed the tip of the iceberg here!
Job Search: One of the biggest attractions of LinkedIn is the ability to match job candidates with open positions. There is the traditional job search feature based on keywords. Many of the groups have jobs discussions and are quite active.
You have the ability to follow various Companies on thier LinkedIn page and many post jobs. What’s nice, is that when you view a job posting that page also highlights similar jobs based on the job description and also indicates other jobs that have been reviewed by other job seekers. A great tool to help you find some job listings that may not have been in your search criteria.
LinkedIn has a JobSeeker account type that costs $30 monthly ($25 monthly if paid in advance for 12 months) that offers a few perks over the traditional free LinkedIn account. I don’t know if I would plunk down $300 for a year of job searching assistance – it justs seems too pessimistic to me.
I have a Personal Plus account that costs me just under $100 annually. This allows me to see everyone who has viewed my account recently and a few other perks.
I would like to share a few worthwhile links that others have done on LinkedIn: