Networking and LinkedIn should be used together to help you get a job.
Use LinkedIn as a compliment to your resume, don't have your LinkedIn profile be your resume verbatim. Some overlap is fine, but it should not be the exact same information.
Build your profile to 100% completeness. Percent complete will be on the left and what you need to do to get it complete, percentage wise, will be on the right.
Post a Photograph. People want to know who they are connecting with.
If you no longer work for a company it should not be in your Headline. Instead, put the position you are looking for and the industry.
"What are you working on?" - This is a Tweet, (Twitterism), Keep it short, because you have to, make it positive, and timely.
Your Current position is what you are doing now, not the last job you had. Are you doing part time work somewhere? Are you volunteering? Put it in your Current area.
Education - Fill it in. Don't worry that you don't have an MBA or a BA or BS for that matter. Did you take any college courses? Did you have any Trade school training? Any technical training? Any training through your previous company? Put it in there. If you feel that you have too much information in there, then pull some out and leave only what pertains to the position you are looking for now. Add your High School, you know, that St. Louis thing, just don't add the date.
Recommendations -- Ask for recommendations. Write more recommendations than you receive. Pay it forward. When you write a recommendation for someone, then they will feel obligated to write one for you. Who did you admire at your last job? Who did you like, respect; go to for all your questions? Who went to you with questions that you answered? Who helped you and who did you help? These are the people that you need to write recommendations for and who you need to ask for recommendations. A potential employer might read one or two of your recommendations that you receive, but they will not read all of them. They will however, see the number of them and they will see that you not only receive them, but give them as well. Also, besides all of this, you will feel good when people write a recommendation about you. You will feel even better every time you write one for someone else.
Connections -- Most important aspect of LinkedIn! Connect with everyone you know. The key here is that you know them. Your connections are more valuable to you and the connection if you know each other. If someone invites me to connect, I won't connect unless I know them or they meet with me. (Frank Danzo)
People who connect with every and anyone, are selling something more than themselves. They are using LinkedIn as part of their business, which is fine, that is how they get customers. (I know 97% of my connections and I am planning on getting to know the other 3%.)
The more you play with LinkedIn the better you will get with it. Use it along with your networking. When you trade business cards ask if the person is on LinkedIn. If they are, then ask them if you can send them an invite. If they are not, ask if you can get them started on LinkedIn. You may be their first connection.
Look at my connections, if you see someone you know, send them an invite. If you see someone that you would like to get to know because they are in an industry that you are interested in or have some experience in a company that you are trying to network into. Then send me a request for an introduction to them. I will forward the introduction and then you can set up a networking meeting with them.
Websites -- Add websites that interest you and have some relevancy with the position you seek. Professional or trade organizations or local union or international organizations are all meaningful and beneficial here. Websites for Monster Trucks, WWF, or the latest YouTube video clip, I would not recommend. Also, I would not include your former employer's website, however, when you do land in your next position, you might want to put your company at the top of your website list.
Public Profile -- Customize your Public Profile so that you are easier to find on the web. It is also nice to have this customized to put on your cover letter so that a potential employer can find it easy.
Summary -- This is your professional summary, it can be similar to the one on your resume or completely different, it's up to you. You can try out a summary here for awhile to see if you like it before moving it to your resume. Change it around some and then ask your closest connections to critique it. Better to have more eyes on it and get some feedback before you move it to your resume.
Specialties: - Here is where you get to brag on yourself. Do so professionally.
Applications -- There are 10 applications you can use on LinkedIn. I encourage you to play/try/test them all and see what works for you. If you find one you like, then let me know about it. I won't go into them here except for the Reading List. LinkedIn has a deal with Amazon where you can choose a book that you Would Like to Read, Are Reading, or Have Read. If you read the book then you can recommend it or just put in comments about the book. The deal with Amazon is that Amazon shows the cover of the book. Based on the fact that because the person whose profile you are on that you would like to buy the book, then you can click on the cover and it is a link to Amazon and you can order the book right then.
I would recommend putting most of your books in here that are professional in nature or have something to do with your job search. I do have some personal books in here. I would recommend a 70 -- 30 % ratio of professional to personal books. I would not include romance novels here. Four of my 13 books are personal. I have the 2 Tim Russert books on my list.
Experience Detail -- You can be as broad or detailed as you want to be here. I would suggest to be detailed. This is another opportunity to brag on yourself. However, on the flipside, make sure you have someone who will be brutally honest with you and who will tell you that you have too much in there when you do. You want people to read your profile. If you have too much they might just skip it altogether. Make sure you have the important stuff in there.
Education Detail - You can be broad or detailed here too, but you want to keep it relevant. If you earned any academic awards or were president of your fraternity or sorority, that might be fine, but you might want to leave out that you were Homecoming Queen or Captain of the Glee club from high school. If you were Valedictorian of your high school, leave that in.
Recommendations -- Some more on recommendations. If someone writes a recommendation for you that you don't like or that you would like for them to change, you can send it back and ask them to change it. You have to approve the recommendation before it shows up to the public. And, even if you do approve it, you can hide it at any time from public view.
(Side Note -- This is why I like LinkedIn, nothing is viewed by the public unless you allow it to be shown. Unlike other social media like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter where a friend/fan/connection can post a comment, photo, or video that might be embarrassing. Worst yet, some thing that can be posted on your site that might turn a potential employer away.)
Additional Information -- Your websites are listed here again. Also here are your Interests. Remember, this is where you show the broader version of you. This is the area that describes things you do when you are not at work.
Groups and Associations -- There are a number of groups you can choose to join on LinkedIn. Most will send you an email notification when there is an event or a discussion topic. On the heading of my Groups area I told people about some of my past presentations.
Groups -- Belonging -- There is a lot of information you can obtain and participate from being in a group. This is where a lot of interaction takes place. The easiest way to join a group is to go to one of your connections and click on a group you are interested in and there will be a tab you can click on that says,
- Join Group-. Click it and you will either be automatically added or the person running the group will want to confirm your email address. You can set your preferences any way you would like for getting email updates. You don't have to get any at all if that is what you want. You can just participate in the discussions.
- Tabs -- Overview, Discussions, News, Jobs, Updates, Members, Settings.
Honors and Awards: - Again, list those that are relevant to the position you are interested in. You might have won that spelling bee in 3rd grade, or won that pinewood derby, but it is not relevant now. Were you the top salesperson of your region? Did your department have the best safety record due in part to your efforts? Is there a civic award that people should know about? Was there another honor that you can tell people about? This is the space for that.
Personal Information -- This is a personal preference. You can say as little or as much as you want to say here. (I just added my birthday here because it was just recent. I did not put the year, however.) You can add your marital status, phone number, address, etc.
Contact Settings -- You can add a little blurb here about how people can contact you. The Opportunity Preferences are given to you to choose from when you first sign up, but they can be edited at any time. Set them how you like.
Other Profiles -- When you connect with someone, go to their profile. On the right-hand side you will see a section that says, "Your private info about 'so-n-so'". This is where you write information about so-n-so that is not on their profile. Information like, where you met them and when, what their phone number is, what you talked about when you met. I call this the, "back of the business card" section, because a lot of this information is the information I wrote on the back of their business card when I first met them.
If you continue to look down the right side of their profile you are provided a sample of their other parts of their profile. You can see some of their connections they share with you as well as some of their other connections and other information.
Take your name and the "I's" & "My's" out.
If you have the time, browse through their profile, to see what they are about and to get ideas for your own profile. See how they use LinkedIn. I learn something new each time I connect with someone new. Once you are connected you can see all their connections.
If you are not connected with someone and you are viewing their profile, you will see a lot, but will be somewhat restricted. Also, look on the right-hand side and you will see how many degrees of separation you are from them in the LinkedIn world. If the person is located in St. Louis, it is usually not that many. As you acquire more connections, you will find the degrees of separation decrease.
Search Companies -- A Powerful tool and another great reason to build a good network. Open LinkedIn and go to the top Dropdown and do a "Search Companies". Enter a company name. What you will get on the right side are Related Companies & some Key Statistics. On the Left hand side you still have your 'workbench' for your LinkedIn profile. However, the middle is gold!
If you want to network into a company, any company, this is where you should start. In the middle shows not only the people that you are connected to who work there, but also the people you are connected to who were former employees, new hires, recently promoted, and the popular profiles that were viewed of people who work there.
But, the absolute best is that it shows people who work there that are connections of your connections, and connections of connections of connections that work there.
I have a few of my connections who work at a certain company as indicated by a little blue rectangle by their name that has a "1st" inside. When I click on the blue "See more" I get to a possibly dozens of pages with numerous connections who work at this company. Connections that are "2nd" and "3rd" separations from me. When I really focus my networking into a company, I will request introductions from my direct connections to these "2nd" and "3rd" connections that are in IT so that I can set up networking meetings with these individuals.
- Build your profile. Look at mine, and the profiles of my connections for ideas. Ideas for all your areas of your profile. Ideas for recommendations that you are writing for someone. Ideas for books to read. It is all there to share, that is why it is there. It is a brain trust. A presenter that I was in the audience of once said, "If you borrow from one person on the Internet it is considered plagiarism, if you borrow from a bunch of people it is considered information sharing."
- Play with all the areas of LinkedIn. The more you play with it, the more familiar you will be with it.
- You have two tabs at the top of your Profile; 1) Edit My Profile, and, 2) View My Profile. Edit allows you to edit all the sections. View allows you to see your Profile the way the public sees your profile. All except the very bottom when you come to Contact Settings. At this point you see a section called Contacting You and a paragraph of information. The un-connected public sees a Send InMail option. Your connections see the Send a Message option and your email address.
- When you play with LinkedIn add a little at a time, then, view it to see what other people are seeing. Then go back and edit some more until you like what you see. When you get tired of playing with it, step away and give it a rest, otherwise you will get burned out on it.
- Don't worry about being overwhelmed by all the "stuff" that everyone has or the number of connections people have. It took all those people time to build their profiles and other areas. It took me a good month before I had a lot of that stuff in there and two months just to get 100 connections. You will build yours up too and it won't take you as long and it will be great, but don't try to build it all in one night.
- One of the great things about LinkedIn is the price. It is free except for the advertisement on the right-hand side. You can pay for an updated version or something with more features, but I'm busy enough for what they give me already. Everyone I've talked to about this including several professional presenters have said the same thing.
- This is your online networking tool, use it in concert with your face-to-face networking and make the most of it.
A related article about LinkedIn.