LinkedIn is that social media tool that is popular with professionals and executives. Very popular.
LinkedIn may be the dignified, stately, social media resource. That compares to the mob scene at Facebook or the perpetual cocktail party of Twitter. As a mid-Boomer, I’m not sure how to characterize MySpace any more.
LinkedIn’s comparative dignity comes from its foundation of the 1-to-1 interaction. Granted, you can have that interaction with many people. But, that 1-to-1 interaction favors dignity, thoughtfulness, respect, accountability.
That 1-to-1 interactions starts with your profile, your bio, your work history, your resume. And your picture. The emphasis is on ‘you’, the real you, perhaps. There are no fake avatars (silly digital images) or hidden identities. There’s no opportunity for spam or inflammatory (if not funny) comments.
LinkedIn’s growth may come from its gentle slope into the waters of social media. I’ve yet to be spammed or threatened with ID theft or had my time wasted with apps whose only purpose is to drive revenue for their creators or those of the social media you’re using. There are no sharks in these waters.
So, for those of you yet to test the waters of social media or those who’ve got their pinkies wet in LinkedIn’s pool and want to go deeper, here are 4.5 Features to Use with LinkedIn.
- Give references.
- Search for former colleagues
- Join Groups
- Questions: ask them, answer them.
One of the most popular and meaningful ways to build your network is to share a reference for those you've connected with on LinkedIn. You put your reputation on the line with your reference for all to see. The text of your reference speaks as much about you as does your profile. And it's a generous act that strengthens your existing connections and invites others to connect with you. It also serves to inspire others to recommend you.
Search for Former Colleagues
LinkedIn has a search feature where you can find and connect with former colleagues and classmates. Just enter in the name of your former school or the name of the company where you worked. And you'll find a list of LinkedIn members with those same schools or companies in their profiles. And you're off to reconnecting with them.
This search function is in the upper right corner.
This is a relatively recent feature with LinkedIn. You can join groups of other LinkedIn members who share a common interest. Professional interests are the most common. I've joined groups with common interests in social media, telecommunications, Iowa businesses, etc. It's a great way to expand your network beyond your immediate network of former colleagues and friends.
Once you join the groups, you can choose to be updated by email on a regular basis for changes and activities on the events of group members.
The search function for groups is in the upper left corner.
Questions: Ask and Answer (That's the .5)
LinkedIn offers a pretty effective means to crowdsource using their Answers tab at the top. There you can find questions which would allow your answer to showcase your expertise (and expand your network). And you can also ask questions of the LinkedIn community. You’ll find answers from other experts. These are experts you want to know.
And you’re wading into the waters, safely, gradually and most importantly meeting other swimmers just like yourself. And not getting eaten by the sharks.
Come on in. The water's fine.