Facebook in the Office? The Story behind LinkedIn

linkedin tablet with coffee
What is LinkedIn and how can you harness its power? Let’s hone those skills!

This week news broke that Microsoft will be purchasing LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, the biggest deal in Microsoft’s history. We are all familiar with Microsoft Office and other tools like Outlook, but what about LinkedIn. Many people know it as a sort of professional Facebook, but the site is far more than a page to collect contacts. Let’s see how LinkedIn can boost your professional presence and career!

What is it, anyway?

LinkedIn is a social network for business. We’ve all heard the mantra “Network, network, network,” since college, maybe even high school, but getting out their and actually meeting people can feel like asking for a raise on your first day on the job. Never fear fellow citizens, LinkedIn is here to lighten the load! Your professional connections are the heart of the site; they can endorse the skills that you list or recommend other skills that you might add. As you connect with colleagues you trust, you gain access to their professional networks as well. This quickly expanding network, along with your profile and resume, can garner attention from the many recruiters that search the site. Simple! Right? Alright, well how do we actually use LinkedIn? Let’s review its functions, and then we’ll discuss how to make your profile more effective.

How to Use LinkedIn

First, don’t skip steps! Be sure to fill out your profile fully (yes, it’s a hassle isn’t it?). Your profile and resume are the only face that you can present to recruiters, so let’s put our best foot forward. After you’ve established these two, what’s left to do?

I. Job Search

You don’t have to sit around sipping tea while you wait for a job offer. LinkedIn helps you take the initiative in several ways. If you have proactive contacts, one of them might recommend a job for you. You can also go to the profiles of hiring managers and look for common connections who might be able to introduce you (find that legendary “in,” you see?). Just like Facebook, you can follow companies and therefore see news from them, including new positions available. If you must dash, bookmark a job that catches your eye so that you can explore it later.

II. Employee Search

You can list positions and search for suitable candidates. Also, as a recruiter you’ll love this news: you can’t be ambushed on all sides by random job inquiries because LinkedIn has a “gated-access approach,” meaning you can only be contacted by one of your connections or through a secondary connection. Spam be gone!

III. Vendor or Client Search

As a business you can check out a prospective client or another business that approaches you to offer or perform a service. As a prospective client you can also examine a business’s page to see what services they offer, how many employees they have, and different articles they post.

Your Profile: A Diamond in the Rough

So how do we polish it?

I. Make Connections

As you’ve seen, LinkedIn is all about the connections (as is life). So, the more connections you make, the more exposure you’ll receive. Disclaimer! Here’s an important piece of advice you may have learned from other social media usage: don’t collect contacts for show. You don’t want to bog down your network with people who you either don’t know or who will be dead-ends in your job search. Rather, connect with people in your field who have exhibited exemplary skills or personality. Don’t be afraid to make connections with people outside of your field as well, especially if you have interests in other areas of work. LinkedIn is a great way to show your interests and to gain access to other fields.

II. Ask for Recommendations

Recommendations are short paragraphs that other people write on your page describing your qualities, personality, work ethic, and other qualifications. Essentially, you can have people publicly vouch for you! You can ask people who know you well professionally to write recommendations. There are also skill set endorsements. People can endorse certain skills you have listed or recommend certain skills that you should add. The recommendations are far more substantial and trustworthy, so focus on acquiring those! They can be as valuable as your resume.

Well, now that we’ve explored all facets of LinkedIn, you’re ready to shock your profile into life! As always, remember to visit Netwise on Facebook and Twitter for more trusty tips on improving your professional skills.

shaking hands
Go forth and conquer the world!