Pros and Cons of LinkedIn for Professional Networking
Professional contacts use LinkedIn as a communication mechanism. By sustaining relationships and building a robust profile on LinkedIn, you demonstrate that you are able to support your business claims. LinkedIn is an authenticity protocol.
"Volunteer Experiences and Causes" Section in LinkedIn
LinkedIn recently added a new section to their professional network called "Volunteer Experiences and Causes" as part of its continued effort to help professionals. This section was based on consumer demand and people using LinkedIn requested that this section be added. Hiring managers and people who are actively volunteering and building their skill sets and relationships through their volunteer experiences use this section and a benefit is that, with this new section, people are able to further build relationships and referrals. This section within LinkedIn allows people to document their volunteer experience and connect with other volunteers. On one hand you can contribute to a cause that you believe in and on the other hand you get credit for your volunteer experience just like you do with your traditional work experience. In the past, people who volunteered did not have a qualified method of which they could document this volunteer experience. Relationships are built and further set themselves apart through volunteer experience.
LinkedIn Builds Credibility
The power and credibility that LinkedIn provides offers professional networking opportunities. Referrals gained through a professional network such as LinkedIn are more qualified and LinkedIn offers a more efficient way to build your referral base. For people who are working 24/7 and can not get out to networking events, LinkedIn provides a great forum to network and build a strong system of referrals.
Second and Third Tiered Contacts
By connecting with people on Linkedin, you then get to take advantage of each other's second and third tiered contacts. Then, you share those contacts in common and you can take advantage of the other second and third level relationships in order to further build your referral base. Your referral base gains momentum and grows off of itself, if you will.
Quality, Not Quantity
Quantity is not the best motivator, but rather quality is. When making connections with people on LinkedIn, it is important to qualify how you know them, where the referral comes from. One way to do this is to utilize "LinkedIn Today" in the "News" section. Track relevant industry news in this section and use that data for a relational context with which to connect with one another. When communicating with referrals, be sure to reference that.
LinkedIn Today and Groups
Every day, LinkedIn is creating products that are built to better our professional lives. It is not just about when people are looking for jobs. LinkedIn is about building relationships and with "LinkedIn Today" you can also participate in "Groups" to watch to see what type of conversations are being held or even participate in conversations so you can be known as someone who has a qualified opinion in your industry. This is a relevant career building and referral base tool.
Strong Referral Base
Because LinkedIn is so professionally oriented, you are more likely to meet and connect with professional contacts which you can communicate with in order to build a strong referral base. This distilled information that is expressly professionally oriented is useful for a referral base.
Relevant Industry News
LinkedIn Today is a service by which you will be updated with relevant industry news. It is sent to your in box and helps to keep you informed and prepared, educated in your realm industry. You can be exposed to people who are beyond your normal realm of influence and you can then offer them something professionally.
Businesses can use LinkedIn with a vanity URL that is specific to their business. It makes you more professional and also helps you to be found in LinkedIn. Groups offer the opportunity to engage in conversation which can lead to legitimate business contacts.
LinkedIn offers job postings, but it also offers the opportunity to track companies…. which individuals are leaving the company, what job postings are made, relevant press releases and industry news. For example, if you see that there are people leaving a department, you can suspect that there are going to be openings in that department and reach-out to them before the job is posted.
People do not realize how helpful LinkedIn is in their day-to-day career and referral base development. By logging on each day, you are building a career toolbox with the industry news, forums for conversation and discussion relevant to what is of interest. It offers a unique opportunity to be profiled so people can find you if they are looking for your skill sets. You should not just have a job profile and description of what you are doing in your current position, rather, you should instead have the totality of your work experience for years in LinkedIn so that you have a history of skill sets for potential referrals to review.