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LinkedIn Overview and Tips

Page history last edited by ted.coopman@... 9 years, 9 months ago

Many users find LinkedIn to be an effective business tool

By Migual Helft
New York Times
Posted: 10/03/2010 12:11:00 PM PDT
Updated: 10/03/2010 03:54:03 PM PDT

http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_16229783?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com&nclick_check=1

 

Joanna Wiseberg began Red Scarf Equestrian, which makes stylish handbags and other luxury goods for horse lovers, two years ago, just as the economy plunged into recession.

 

Nevertheless, Wiseberg was soon meeting people who invited her to showcase her goods at elite places like the Cannes Film Festival, the Monaco Grand Prix and a luxury goods conference in China. Now, she said, Red Scarf Equestrian, based in Toronto, is poised to take off.

"My business is a niche within a niche, and I opened at the worst possible time," Wiseberg said. "You try and push a ball uphill."

Her tool was LinkedIn, the social network for business professionals that is often perceived as a workaday cousin to the social butterfly of Facebook. But as Wiseberg discovered, LinkedIn is actually more than just a place for job seekers to post a resume.

"I wouldn't be here without LinkedIn," she said.

 

For any company in the social networking business, it is not easy living in the shadow of Facebook and Twitter. With 500 million users connecting with friends, trading photos, videos and articles, or whiling the time away on social games, Facebook has pretty much locked up the field. For its part, Twitter has carved a solid niche for those interested in broadcasting their thoughts 140 characters at a time.

But with its unabashed utilitarian bent, LinkedIn has built a presence in social media. Anyone with a career, a business or ambitions to climb the

corporate ladder can network with 75 million people who use it, in large part, to find jobs or to recruit candidates for jobs.

But in the past year or so, LinkedIn has been offering plenty of information and tools that can help its users, whether they work for themselves or at a company, to conduct research, find new customers and expand their business contacts and prospects. Much of it remains free, although some advanced features require a subscription of $25, $50 or $100.

 

Create a profile

For the LinkedIn novice, the first step is to create a profile, which is much like putting together a résumé listing education, professional experience and skills. But the online profile is different from a printed résumé.

 

For example, putting more content, rather than less, will make your profile more likely to come up in searches. That means listing not just major positions you've had but also minor internships and summer jobs. And it means listing all the skills you have. Change the privacy settings to be as open as possible; if you are looking for work, you want strangers to find you.

 

Next, it is good to have other people vouch for you. You ask people you know to write brief recommendations that also appear in your profile. A little logrolling never hurts. Recommend people you know as they may be more inclined to return the favor.

 

Then network as if LinkedIn were a big industry trade show. Search for people you know and invite them to be part of your network. Regular users of LinkedIn say a common mistake that newcomers make is to limit their network. So how many is enough?

 

There are no absolutes, but Krista Canfield, a LinkedIn spokeswoman, says that 35 connections appears to be the minimum to make the viral properties of social networks truly useful. (As in any network, you don't want to include people who could drag down your reputation. LinkedIn lets you deflect unwanted invitations with the Archive button so no one knows they have been rejected by you.)

 

Job searches

Once you've gone this far, it is easy to look for jobs using the company's search tools. But there are plenty of other ways to use it to help your job search or other business aspirations.

 

Perhaps the most useful places to look are the 1 million or so company pages LinkedIn has compiled. The pages will reveal the names of people who were recently hired or left the company, as well as those who have changed positions within the company.

 

Not only will you be able to pinpoint the right person, you will be able to see all the people who are in your network -- your direct connections and their connections -- who are somehow affiliated with that right person inside a company. I thought I hardly knew anyone at Oracle, for example, and found that 245 people in my network either work there or have worked there -- all potentially useful contacts if I were looking for a job there.

 

Automatic updates

If you have your eyes set on a particular company, be it Time Warner, Bank of America or Procter & Gamble, it is a good idea to "follow" their LinkedIn page. Just like when you follow friends or businesses on Facebook or Twitter, you will receive updates in your news feed. They will include company news and job postings, but also updates when people get hired, leave or move up, as well as any activity in your network connected to the company.

 

Company pages are also good for other kinds of research. A module called "related companies" displays typical career paths. For example, the page for Johnson & Johnson shows that the health care giant hired more people who had previously worked at Pfizer than from any other company. And when they left, the most popular destinations were Merck and Novartis.

 

That may give you an idea how to plan your career path or may help you discover a little-known company that is a steppingstone to the company where you want to end up.

 

Company data

Other useful company information includes the percentage of employees in research and development or sales and marketing compared with similar companies. That could come in handy for anyone trying to find out what kinds of opportunities are more likely to come up, and useful in preparing for an interview.

 

The premium services allow you to see who looked at your profile and the keywords they used to find it. They also let you see expanded profiles of people outside your network or check references on people you are hiring.

 

Status updates work much like those on Facebook or Twitter. Joe Rosenberg, a certified public accountant in Florham Park, N.J., said he recently used a status update to alert people that the deadline for self-employed people to file estimated quarterly tax payments was coming up.

 

"People noticed it," Rosenberg said. "It could be a reminder to people to call you.".

 

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