If you are only using your LinkedIn profile as an online resume, then you’re missing the boat! Really. No modern professional—or wannabe professional—should be without a basic understanding of the powerful things the business networking site can do.
Yes, it’s a darn simple way to easily share your C.V. information online. And it is a practical way to track the most current contact information for your friends and colleagues. (Because they keep it current and what could be easier?) But there’s more to LinkedIn—a lot more. You can use it to build a reputation, crowd source tough problems, find a new job, gather competitive intelligence … the list is nearly endless.
Step one, of course, is to get your own personal profile up there and complete it. Step two? Turn it on and let it work for you.
Five Extremely Useful Things To Do with LinkedIn
- Create a resume. Having filled in your LinkedIn profile information, you can quickly and easily turn it into a gorgeous and professional resume any time you want. The Resume Builder will suck your professional past into a prebuilt template of your choosing and make it look good. Then, just edit as you wish, catalog it online and share a custom link or a PDF with anyone who needs it. Which, given how gorgeous this is going to look, will be literally everyone.
- Export your connections. Click on “My Connections” and you’ll see a complete list of all your personal LinkedIn contacts. You may wish to access this list anytime you are looking for up-to-date information about a contact. Or, just periodically dump it into your Microsoft Outlook, Mac Address Book or other email contacts list. To do this, find “Export Connections” near the bottom of the page, click it, select the format and “Bob’s your uncle!”
- Keep track of someone (or something). If you haven’t already discovered it, there is a “Search” text box near the top of the LinkedIn screen. Type in the zip code, title, industry, name or whatever you wish to search on. Again, near the top, you’ll find a “Save This Search” link. You can save as many as three searches this way and you’ll be notified by email every time the results change for that search. You can get sophisticated with your searches, too. Say you want to locate people who have handled marketing for Geico. Just enter “Geico” and “Marketing” and search. You’ll get a list of people who have been involved in Geico marketing in the past or present—either in or outside your personal network.
- Find someone in a company. Would an introduction to an executive with a specific company in your area bolster your marketing plan? Well then, don’t hesitate to figure out who you know who can make that introduction. Insert the name of the company into the “Search People” field, sort the results by relationship and then fine tune the results with the criteria in the left margin. To find someone in your personal network who can introduce you to a second-degree contact, just click on “Shared Connections” under their name.
- Get found. You’ll also want to make sure that people interested in the type of thing you do will find you when conducting LinkedIn searches. Keywords and key phrases are the answer. What are the critical terms and phrases used in your practice area or industry? The more of those you include in your profile, the more likely you are to be found. If you’re not sure what keywords to use, just try Google AdWords Keyword Tool. It will tell you what terms people search.
Merrilyn Astin Tarlton has been helping lawyers and law firms think differently about the business of practicing law since 1984. She was a founder of the Legal Marketing Association, President of the College of Law Practice Management and an LMA Hall of Fame inductee. When she’s not writing for Attorney at Work, she blogs at http://www.astintarlton.com.