LinkedIn is the largest business/professional networking site with now more than 150 million members according to the company’s recent quarterly financial results. LinkedIn continues to add 2 members per second, and is represented in more than 200 countries globally.
What is the Purpose of LinkedIn?
It depends on who is using the site and how. If you are a job seeker, you are probably focusing your LinkedIn activity on job searching activities, such as contacting recruiters, both internally and externally, trying to add connections with a focus on companies who are hiring, and using the Job Search features that LinkedIn offers including the Job Search tab, Groups, and Company Pages.
If you are a recruiter, you are using LinkedIn to find new candidates and expand your overall network. You are performing Advanced Searches for members who match specific criteria based on your clients’ job requirements, and your field of specialization. You may also be using LinkedIn to seek and connect with hiring managers.
If you are focused on networking, you are using many of the same features and techniques to build your network with people you know, people they know, and people with whom you have an interest, but do not yet know. Your focus is/should be on not only making the LinkedIn connection, but developing real relationships with others.
Networking = building relationships for the purpose of sharing information, guidance (advice) and connections. Networking does support a job searching effort, but the focus is on the relationship and not only job search. Once a job is mentioned and/or the resume is involved, networking switches to job search, and the relationship with the other person changes.
Does any of this matter to you? Yes! If you only perceive and use LinkedIn as a job search site/tool, then you will tend to be inactive with LinkedIn when you are not actively looking for a new job. You will also limit how you use LinkedIn, and you will miss out on the opportunities to develop quality relationships with your existing connections and others. Your network will go “cold” without making occasional contacts with others with whom you are connected. Your network will grow only through the efforts of others who reach out to you. Messages will sit unread in your Inbox, and you may miss out on new connections and new possibilities for relationship building. You will ignore the Groups that you’ve joined. Your profile may go untouched for months or longer. Many profiles are incomplete, and do not get updated when one changes positions or companies. The irony is that recruiters do look at your profile and notice your activity or inactivity. They do notice if your profile is incomplete and out-of-date, and they are less likely to reach out to you. Same goes for others who may want to connect with you, but see little value in doing so. What impression do you want your LinkedIn profile to give to others when they find you? You are well-connected, you are an active participant in your network and in your profession, or are you reactive, and only use LinkedIn to respond to an invitation to connect, or to seek out your connections when you need them for a job search?
It took me awhile before I realized the potential of LinkedIn, and I have developed many new relationships because of this great networking site. I have also developed a growing business providing coaching and training to job seekers, networkers and business development professionals who have not yet realized their opportunities with LinkedIn.
I encourage you to explore LinkedIn, to complete your profile and keep it up-to-date, to continue to expand your network and keep in touch with your connections, and to take advantage of the still un-tapped benefits that using LinkedIn actively will bring you. If you would like to learn more about how I can help you learn how to more fully utilize LinkedIn, please call me at (818) 577-1347 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: LinkedIn is also valuable for business development professionals, and the same search and networking features are used. I write about LinkedIn as a business development tool in my Social Media 2 Connect blog.