If you are at all familiar with social media such as Facebook, you will know that broadly speaking it is a platform for average user Joe/Jane Bloggs to share with his/her friends what’s going on in their life. From holiday snaps, to engagement announcements, even as far as showing off the culinary delight that you have just produced, you can share it all on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
The difficulty is that building professional relationships with colleagues and clients on these platforms is difficult, especially if they are able to see what you had for dinner last night, or that you might have forgotten to put sun cream on while sunbathing in the Algarve. Professional connections simply do not want to know that kind of information!
This is where LinkedIn saves the day. LinkedIn is the professional online network. It is a platform for connecting with people who you have professional dealings with, and friends also, but without all the pointless twaddle that one might put on Twitter or Facebook. What it does actively encourage you to put down is basically all the information that you would put on a CV. Academic background, work experience, training, certificates etc.
It also asks you to put down any skills that you have. Here’s the clever part: when you make connections, they have the opportunity to “endorse” each skill that you put down. It doesn’t mean anything official, but it means that if a lot of people are endorsing you for a certain skill, then it could be picked up on and you may get noticed by a company looking for someone with that particular skill. Of course the expectation is that you would do the same for all of your connections skills (endorsing those that you can).
LinkedIn essentially enables you to build a professional network of people who you work with or have worked with or might work with in the future.
Businesses are increasingly using LinkedIn to advertise jobs also. Moreover you can use it to put general advertisements on (though it does charge for these services).
LinkedIn has a very comprehensive help section with articles on almost everything.
In terms of what can be done for business/organisations, you can create “pages” on LinkedIn. University of Southampton have one, as well as the Web Science Institute. In fact, almost every business/organisation you can think of probably has one! It is well worth it interacting with these pages because interacting = getting noticed! If you are part of an organisation without a page, it is well worth it setting one up.
In a similar fashion to liking Facebook pages, you can “follow” pages on LinkedIn to receive their updates. These may include job vacancies.
Alternatively, you can set up a group. These are for people with specific interests, for example the Web Science MOOC has a LinkedIn group. Generally each skill has a group also, that can be joined. Again it works in a similar fashion to Facebook groups. You can have discussions, you can post photos etc.
An example is that whereas the University of Southampton has a organisational page, the staff members of the University of Southampton might have a private group for discussing internal matters (the coffee machine might have broken down for example).
Whereas pages have no privacy settings, groups do. It is well worth it familiarising yourself with the options and choose one that best suits the needs of the group that you wish to create.
LinkedIn also has apps for mobile devices, available on the iOS and Android operating systems. These allow you to look at other profiles, check any messages/connection requests you may have, and make connection requests. As far as is understood you are not able to modify your profile from these apps.
Signing up is just as straightforward as signing up for any other social media. It encourages you to add your contacts from other sites and email contacts too. The process of building your profile is very straightforward and the system gives you clear and simple guidance as to how you could improve your profile.
At the bottom of this is a series of videos on how to get the most from LinkedIn. Well worth a watch if you have the time!
Happy Linking In!