If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you? Maybe not.
If all your friends joined Facebook, would you? Maybe not.
But, if all the companies you wanted to work for are using LinkedIn to recruit, would you complete a profile? Probably.
Thus, began my 36-hour marathon of finally rounding out the LinkedIn profile I abandoned 5 years ago.
Conceptually, LinkedIn is great. It allows me to:
1. Share my resume with employers without attaching documents to my cover letter. No more worrying about viruses or document/ program compatibility.
2. Keep a live inventory of my professional experience. The link to my profile is permanent, but the information can be updated as often as necessary.
3. Collect endorsements from connections who have been vetted and recommended by others. I don’t make human resource departments do any more work than necessary to verify my profile.
Practically, LinkedIn has a few areas for improvement. I’ve encountered or heard about from my connections these problems:
1. It can be difficult for people to leave recommendations. People who run multi-million dollar departments / companies / investments can have a hard time figuring out how to leave me a recommendation. Yes, I am certain they are not just making excuses not to endorse me since I spent hours instructing about half a dozen people through the process.
2. Some people have two accounts and are not able to merge them. For these people, LinkedIn’s technical support group hasn’t been able to resolve the conflict. One person’s problem is attributed to having two emails with different middle initials; another has two accounts but only one email.
3. The algorithms aren’t always accurate. For example, LinkedIn suggested to one person they join the Dartmouth Class of 1987 group — She wasn’t even born, yet, in 1987!
LinkedIn was founded in December 2002, and launched in May 2003, and it’s growing faster than ever. And regardless of what problems some users might encounter, it is becoming more and more necessary to have a professional presence on LinkedIn. Here are some tips to maximizing your profile:
- Include a professional but inviting photo of yourself. You should be neatly dressed in front of a plain background. Smile.
- Provide a comprehensive outline of your work. Your resume should be up-to-date, with a focused summary.
Recommendations are the most powerful piece of your virtual ecosystem. They will also take the most time and patience to cultivate. However, the reward is work the effort.
First and foremost, use these 2 rules when soliciting recommendations:
- Always be polite. Even if you don’t get the recommendation.
- Understand that people are busy. They are doing you a favor when they write you a public endorsement. If you don’t get a response after 2 reminders, move on to the next connection.
Try to get recommendations from people you reported to, people who report to you, and peers. Ideally, get three recommendations per position that you have held.
I have found that the best time to ask for an endorsement is at the time of initial contact- when you ask to connect. After the person has agreed to write something for you, use LinkedIn’s built-in tool for your request. The system auto-generates a link for your connection to follow and complete their testimonial of you.
Always make the process as easy as possible for the other person.
That said, the best method to help yourself is to help the other person.
1. Write a sincere and unique (Don’t call everyone a “rock star”. Be specific!) recommendation for the other person. This will give them an idea of what you expect them to write for you. It will also make them feel good.
2. Provide your connection with information they will need in writing your endorsement, like how and when did you meet, the kind of work you did together and what you’d like to have emphasized.
3. Offer to write a draft.
Make sure you know your way around LinkedIn enough to help your connections complete the process. Approximately one out of every three people I contacted needed some sort of further assistance.
Good luck, and let us know what tips work best for you!
Lisa Chau has been involved with Web 2.0 since graduate school at Dartmouth College, where she completed an independent study on blogging. She was subsequently highlighted as a woman blogger in Wellesley Magazine, published by her alma mater. Since 2009, Lisa has worked as an Assistant Director at the Tuck School of Business. In 2012, she launched GothamGreen212 to pursue social media strategy projects. You can follow her on Twitter.