LinkedIn for the Uninformed: Should you link in?

This is a 500 word pitch on why you SHOULD get LinkedIn. Don’t be intimidated and don’t feel inadequate.

LinkedIn is a social networking site where you build connections (friends) and expand your network. I was late to the LinkedIn game, but am quickly realizing how valuable a medium it is for all aspects of relationships and networking.

It does not matter if you haven’t had a corporate job. My employment history consists of installing new driveways or lawns, and yelling at disengaged teenagers on a field. Doesn’t stop me (wait, can I call myself a blogger now?). I’m not granting permission to pepper your LinkedIn account with your Safeway shelf stocker job. Casually leave that part out of the equation for now.

Work the student angle. In the case where your vocation is non-existent, make sure the rest of your profile is stellar. Your profile picture should be a gorgeous headshot with the pearly whites on fine display.  Think of the rest of your profile as a work in progress. Add one thing every time you log on, whether it is a new ‘skill’ or a new group. Try and log on once a day.

For the summary section, find a way to differentiate yourself from the riffraff; tell a story, display your autonomy and uniqueness. Complete the remainder of your profile in stages.

CONNECTING

LinkedIn differentiates people by category (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc), denoting the degrees of separation between you and another person. When someone is a 2nd degree connection, it means at least one mutual friend. 2nd degree connections can be added by anyone. Extend the olive branch with a personal message.

LinkedIn does have a “get introduced by a friend” feature, where you can be connected to a second degree connection through a friend. This can be beneficial for scouting contacts and surveying potential business opportunities. It prompts you to send a quick message to your mutual connection, asking for an intro. This is like someone vouching for you. Be courteous and don’t outright ask for favours. The mutual friend must accept your intro request before the invitation is sent out to the scouted connection.

Don’t get caught up in adding everyone you may know as a connection. Unlike Facebook, absolute number of connections is arbitrary. I could have 1000 connections. It is useless if you haven’t built up a rapport and trust with each connection at one point or another. What good is having a connection that wouldn’t vouch for you? Meaningful connections where mutual benefit can be established are what make LinkedIn unique.

The average Canadian spends eight minutes per visit on LinkedIn, Facebook is triple. It does not require the real-time active interactions that Facebook or Twitter demand.

It will be interesting to see where LinkedIn fits into the greater landscape of social media. Some question the staying power.  The fact that it does not command real-time interaction means less daily visits. Less visits cripples ad revenue and sponsored pages: two key revenue streams that fuel social media platforms. LinkedIn is going to have to get creative.

Perhaps you don’t need an account now, but in my opinion, you will at some point. Why not gradually familiarize yourself now, so you are not flustered registering later when someone asks for your LinkedIn info. Almost as faux-paw as a business card slip up.

Here is a good guide.

What do you think about LinkedIn? Can I call myself a blogger?

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