By Kristen Harris
With the explosion of social networks, especially those that blur the line between personal and professional, a lot of people are wondering if LinkedIn is still relevant. Does it still matter? In a word, yes.
Like a lot of people, you’ve probably experienced social media overload. It seems like a new site is introduced every day, usually with a lot of fanfare and hype…Google+, Facebook, BranchOut, BeKnown, Twitter, YouTube, FourSquare…not to mention good old MySpace and Friendster (yep, they still have users). Add in blogs, newsfeeds, industry-specific networks or forums, and frankly no one would blame you for just wanting to check out of the whole deal. When a new site launches my first thought is “another social media site? I can’t keep up with the ones I have!”
Despite all of the competition, buzz and hype, LinkedIn still matters. Here are ten reasons I believe it’s still a critical tool for all professionals, and the one site you need be on to further your career.
- It’s accessible – you can find pretty much anyone who has a profile, whether you’re connected to them or not.
- It’s targeted – you can search and find people who work for a certain company, went to the same school as you, or work in a particular industry.
- It’s the friend-of-a-friend concept – if you can find mutual connections, it’s much easier to contact the friend-of-a-friend or someone you share common ground with.
- It’s where OTHER PEOPLE look – even if you don’t care one bit about finding people on LinkedIn, other people will look for you there.
- It’s where other people check you out –someone who is interested in your resume or might want to hire you for a project will look at your profile to get more information, link to your work, and see who you’re connected to that they also know.
- It’s a place to check references – if you want to hire or work with someone, look them up to see who you’re both connected to, then ask those people for feedback. You’re more likely to get honest feedback asking someone you know instead of a stranger.
- It’s where you’ll be reference checked – (see #5) People will check your references too, so you want to have a strong group of connections and good recommendations on your profile.
- It’s a comprehensive profile – as LinkedIn has become more sophisticated, there are now ways to attach your resume and samples, connect to your website, show recommendations, and even apply directly to jobs through your mobile device. Your LinkedIn profile is the one place where people can get a quick overview of you and your work, with links to other online locations. (Yes, I know you probably have a website…no one will find it unless you give them the link, but LinkedIn can lead them there even if they don’t know you.)
- It’s professional – despite the efforts of Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to become more relevant for professional use and job seekers, LinkedIn is the original professional site. At least right now, it’s still the first place people will look to find you for professional reasons.
- It’s professional (again) – because it’s only intended to be a professional profile, it doesn’t get cluttered with photos and status updates about your kids, pets, parties or vacation. Don’t fool yourself…people can get into Facebook and see what you post there too…but at least here your professional accomplishments don’t get overshadowed by your personal life.
Pull up that profile, dust it off, add some relevant info, upload your resume, link to your website, and request a couple of recommendations. LinkedIn isn’t the kind of social site that you need to visit daily unless you want to, but be sure to give your profile a quick update every few months to keep it current, accurate and engaging. You never know who will be looking at it, and it takes just a few minutes to make a good first impression.