Are you on LinkedIn? Many of us are. And if you aren’t allow me to introduce you to a tool that every professional should use in the year 2014.
One incomplete way to think of LinkedIn is as an online database of resumes. The company thinks of itself as much more than that. It wants to be a social network on par with Facebook and Twitter and a place where working people connect and interact. So let’s say it’s both of those things, each useful in its own way.
If you don’t have an account, make one. Go to LinkedIn.com and follow the prompts. It will be a trip down memory lane as you attempt to remember when you worked where, the date that you graduated college and all the rest. Don’t worry, you don’t have to know all that stuff now. Get it started and come back and add stuff. (While you are there, search for me and ask me to add you to my connections!)
If that was the end of it, it would be useful enough for journalists. You could develop an endless Rolodex full of contacts. Once you connect with friends and colleagues, the experience deepens. You can recommend each other, endorse peers for certain skills, and find others based on current connections. …
That’s all well and good. But recently, the company added a new mobile profile system that allows you to find out valuable things about potential sources before you meet. Say you planned a meeting with the new hospital administrator in town. You connect with him on LinkedIn first. You notice that you share three connections – which means he also knows the chamber president, the baker downtown and Dr. Smith in a town nearby. Imagine how that would inform your opening conversation. Imagine breaking the ice by talking about the baker’s amazing pretzels or your last golf outing with Dr. Smith. (Obviously, this could be even more valuable for advertising professionals.) All the possibilities were outlined in a recent blog post on the National Newspaper Association website.
It’s also possible to write longform posts, similar to blog posts, on LinkedIn. That serves as content for your profile page and, if done well, will present you as an expert in your field.
All of our social networks are evolving. Some may not be with us in five years time. LinkedIn is making a play to be more than a resume service for headhunters. Poke around and see how you might use it.