There are three ways in which you can utilize LinkedIn to enhance your professional stature:
- Import your contacts into LinkedIn. Export your contacts from Outlook, Lotus Notes, Hotmail, wherever, and import them into LinkedIn. Then, LinkedIn will show you which of your contacts are already in LinkedIn. LinkedIn will help you to easily add those persons to your LinkedIn network (note that those people will each need to consent to this – no one can add you to their network without permission).
- Search for experts and answers. As you grow your list of LinkedIn contacts, you can leverage your contacts to find experts in any field and answers to many questions. Click on the People tab to find people – by name, location, employer, or key words. Click on the Answers tab to ask questions or review others’ questions and answers.
- Search for jobs or consulting gigs. LinkedIn has a powerful job search engine that is linked to other job search services. If you’re in the job market, recruiters can and will find you if you have a rich profile that outlines your entire professional background.
- Make your LinkedIn profile publicly visible. Take the time to fill out all of the sections of your LinkedIn profile: your jobs (not just title and company, but your responsibilities and accomplishments), education, professional memberships, and so on. Then configure LinkedIn so that your profile is visible to others who may wish to find you.
- Join LinkedIn groups. You will notice that many LinkedIn members are members of professional groups. If any of these groups align with your own interests, send an email to your contact and ask them how they joined the group (LinkedIn groups are not found in a list where you can “join” – invitations are generally private).
- Put LinkedIn in your e-mail signature. Put a link or one of the LinkedIn graphics in your e-mail signature. LinkedIn has full instructions on how to do this. Then, people you send mail to will be invited to view your profile and learn more about LinkedIn. Those you send mail to who are already members may ask you to join their list of contacts.
- Put LinkedIn in your blog or website. Similarly, you can put a LinkedIn graphic on your website or blog, which tells people you are in LinkedIn and that they can use LinkedIn to find out more about you.
- Accept new LinkedIn invites with discretion. When you receive invites from others to join their networks, only accept invites from people you know, or who are recommended by people you know. Your entire network of LinkedIn contacts should be people you know and trust – not just people who invite you to join up. I must, however, confess that out of the ~525 contacts I have on LinkedIn, I have accepted invites from about three or four persons that I don’t specifically know. However, I do have specific reasons for specifically accepting their invites.