L is for…LinkedIn

Image: Dreamstime

If you’ve been following this series, you will know that social media savvy is a key skill-set for the 21st century interim. Now more than ever, your network determines your net worth.

LinkedIn is one of the older social networks, but they’ve evolved to become the premier network for business professionals.  A recent study by US-based think-tank, Pew Research, found that LinkedIn is ‘the only major social media platform for which usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-year-olds than among 18- to 29-year-olds’. Clearly, using digital resources such LinkedIn isn’t just something reserved for graduates and second jobbers, it’s a must if you are serious about carving out a successful career as an interim.

So here are some top tips:

Tip #1: Your picture is worth a thousand words…

Or... in the case of LinkedIn, well worth the number opportunities it can generate. You are 11 times more likely to get a profile view if you include a photo. And, while you don’t necessarily need to go for the traditional head shot (mug shots are to be avoided) make sure that your photo is well composed and reasonably up-to-date. The point is that your should create a visually appealing image, which conveys the message you’d like to send to prospective clients and connections. It should say ‘hire me’, not ‘hide from me’.

Tip #2: Think of LinkedIn as a shop window…

British reserve won’t cut it here!  Those hiring want to know what you are good at, so use your LinkedIn profile to showcase those skills, activities and recommendations that you can’t fit on your CV. Need more convincing? Members who list their skills on LinkedIn receive an average of 13 times more profile views than those who don’t. Polish up your profile by building a comprehensive list of professional skills.  Tell your network about your achievements, projects and awards.  A well crafted profile makes people want to know more. So, show more…

Tip #3: Connect with care…

I will say this only once!  LinkedIn should not be confused with Twitter or Facebook.  It is not a popularity contest to see who has the most connections.  Randomly connecting to people you don’t know is a complete no-no, and hugely irritating for the connections you have targeted. Just as you would take your time to build connections in the real world, focus on connecting with people you trust for professional support.  Personally I don’t LinkIn to people I don’t know or haven’t worked with in some professional capacity. There are a few exceptions – other professionals in the same network as me or interim providers or business connections who make time to write a personal message.  However, I regularly refuse requests from transactional recruiters who are too lazy to find good candidates for themselves and simply want to mine my connections.  You actually think I’m going to say yes to a spurious, low-grade opportunity and open my address book to you? One word. Block!

Tip #4: Be seen and heard…

If you are serious about using LinkedIn as a tool to raise your professional profile then, like any other social media platform, you need to be active. Yes, even when you have landed that next dream gig! This could be as simple as keeping your contact details up to date, or making sure that your latest assignment is described in detail.  Where possible, get fresh recommendations as this allows interim providers and prospective clients to get a positive view of your strengths and capabilities.  And, feel free to share interesting articles or join a discussion in one of the many groups that exist.  LinkedIn helps to create a professional digital footprint, which builds your personal brand – vital if you are a self-employed interim.

How do you use LinkedIn?  Has it helped or hindered you in finding that next assignment?  Comments on the blog, please.

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