Personal reputation and professional credibility are precious commodities, and your professional network of trusted contacts is one of your most valuable assets that give you an advantage in your career.
When used effectively, social media can be an incredibly powerful tool for brand building, knowledge transfer and new business generation. LinkedIn exists to help you make better use of your professional network and help the people you trust in return.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is an interconnected network of more than 42 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.
Getting Started – Create Your Profile and Build Your Network
It’s easy to create a profile and get started building a network. A LinkedIn profile can be created in minutes and allows you to include current and previous jobs, interests and education.
Once your profile is created, who should you connect with?
- Current colleagues
- Former colleagues
- Peers in the industry
- University professors
- Business partners
These are just a few suggestions – there’s no one-size-fits all approach to networking. By connecting with a cross-section of people who have known you throughout your career, you’ll create a network that reflects your professional development. Remember, you are judged by the company you keep, so ensure that you trust and respect the people that you connect with.
Managing Your Online Reputation
In business, reputation counts for a lot and can be the difference between getting that new business contract or securing your dream job. But how can you ensure, at a time when reputation can be searched, found and judged in seconds, that your professional reputation is not only accurate, but properly reflects what customers, colleagues, employers and business partners should judge you on?
LinkedIn is one of the most effective services for building and managing your online reputation. With a range of unique features and tools, it enables you to not only create a professional profile but to share it with your peers.
- Recommendations: On LinkedIn you can also send and receive recommendations about other professionals you currently or have previously worked with. Effectively third party endorsements, recommendations are one of the most effective ways of strengthening your professional image. While a well-written recommendation will take some time and thought, it adds credibility to a profile and helps you stand out from the crowd.
- Groups, Answers and Blogs: Two of the most popular features on LinkedIn are Groups and Answers, which allow you to interact and engage with others on topics that interest you, either professional or personally. By engaging in discussions on Groups, or asking or answering questions on Answers, fellow professionals will immediately get a flavour for not only your interests but also your expertise.
Besides LinkedIn, there are several active online forums and blogs for professionals working in different industries that offer opportunities to share insight and experience. Furthermore, if you have a blog you'll know that it is a great way of raising your online profile and establishing your professional reputation.
Status updates: One of the quickest and most efficient ways to market yourself is to let your network know what you’re working on. LinkedIn provides a status update function that enables you to communicate – in a matter of seconds – exciting projects, breaking news and useful information to your network of contacts. In the same vein, Twitter is growing in popularity as a tool for professionals to communicate with each other.
Finding a Job Opportunity
Professional networking can be one of the most powerful online tools for looking for new career opportunities. LinkedIn, for example, allows you to search and apply for thousands of jobs listed on the site also provides a platform for potential employers to find and contact you directly.
Supporting Your Business
It has been said that the credit crunch will create the next wave of millionaires – entrepreneurs who were bold in business despite uncertainty in the economy. No matter what type of business you’re in, the opportunities that the online world can bring you are limitless.
From uncovering new talent to finding and securing customers – online professional networking can be one of the most cost-effective ways of supporting your growing business, new or old.
Rules of Professional Networking
The most important rules of professional networking are to be active, transparent and open. In being active you can demonstrate your worth as a professional, get involved with online communities and help create content for other professionals to use. By being transparent, you increase the chance of finally getting your dream job or a business lead.
While it is possible to optimise your account to be more search friendly, lying or disguising the truth will eventually be found out and damage your reputation. Finally, be open and willing to experiment with new forms of communication – the more you explore and get involved, the more you will benefit.
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