Everyone knows that LinkedIn has become a powerful career tool but most people don’t come close to making the most of it. LinkedIn is a good source of information on your field, job listings and, of course, a potent tool for networking.
As I’ve written previously, I feel we pay too much attention to networking instead of skill development, sizzle over steak, but I’d be a poor career counselor if I didn’t help my clients learn how to use LinkedIn optimally.
This quiz hopefully is a relatively painless way for you to find out if you want to use LinkedIn differently. In creating the items, in addition to what I’ve found works for my clients, I consulted the work of Joshua Waldman, author of the just-published e-book: How Not to Suck at LinkedIn and Pamela Vaughan’s The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn.
True or False:
___ 1. If you’re not looking for a job, 50 LinkedIn connections are probably enough.
___ 2. The time to seriously improve your LinkedIn profile is when you’re unemployed.
___ 3. Being active in LinkedIn forums is too big a time suck.
___ 4. LinkedIn Pulse is a way to assess if you’re alive.
___ 5. Your LinkedIn profile’s headline should state just your current or desired job title.
___ 6. Don’t worry whether you have a photo, let alone a great one. This is LinkedIn, not OKCupid.
___ 7. In writing your summary, as with junk mail solicitations, long sells.
___ 8. Don’t post work samples. It’s viewed as egotistical.
___ 9. You want to be top-of-mind, so post a status update daily.
___ 10. Don’t bother following companies and commenting. Zillions of people do it. Shallow ploy.
___ 11. Don’t bother getting many recommendations. Most employers know they’re BS.
___ 12. No need to create a customized URL for your LinkedIn address.
___ 13. You can’t find out who has checked out your LinkedIn profile. That’s confidential.
___ 14. You can’t get a company or other LinkedIn user to see your status updates.
1. FALSE: If you wait until you’re unemployed and suddenly start inviting people, they’ll know you’re just looking for help rather than offering reciprocity. In any event, the odds of any connection leading to a good job are tiny, so you need aim for at least 200. You needn’t aim for 500+ the maximum reported. That may make you look desperate—like you need the entire universe’s help if you’re to land a job.
You don’t think you can attract 200 connections? Start by looking through your email’s Sent folder. Need more? Search LinkedIn on organizations you’ve worked for or volunteered at, and schools you attended.
2. FALSE: Most employers believe that well-employed people are more likely to be good employees than are unemployed ones. So if you’re at all open to getting a better job, the time to buff-up your profile is when you’re well-employed.
3. FALSE: Even if you’re happily employed, it’s worth joining one or two forums. They’re a great source of current information, colleagues to solicit ideas and articles from and share ideas with. The latter is useful both because it really does feel better to give than to receive and because you’ll become impressive to the group members and to recruiters who troll the forums for people to invite to apply for jobs. Also, if you’re a premium LinkedIn member ($20-40 a month) you can InMail all members of groups you’re in, bypassing the normal requirement that they be a first-level connection.
4. FALSE: It’s a way to get a daily customized feed of articles from your field(s) of interest. And LinkedIn has added a related feature, Trending Content Tool, which highlights the most important content shared on Linked in the category you select.
5. FALSE: It needs to do that and, without being cheesy, honestly differentiate yourself from the zillion other people with that job title that recruiters will review. Example: “How-to writer who produces quality work fast.”
6. FALSE: Because we are a visual species, recruiters and others are much more likely to contact you if you have a photo. And because most LinkedIn members do post their mugshot, if you don’t, they may wonder if you look like Elephant Man.
No need to get a professional photographer. Indeed, you might have an easier time looking relaxed if a trusted friend takes a bunch of shots and you pick your fave. Just be sure you’re not in shadow. Make it a head-and-shoulders shot with you in the clothes you’d wear at work. Look right into the camera lens, perhaps with a slight head tilt. Smile as though you just noticed a friend.
7. FALSE: Readers of your profile may give it just a few seconds before deciding whether to go on to the next person. Internet time is much faster than snail mail time. Often, you can say all you need to in just a few sentences. Indeed, a long summary can make you appear desperate, unable to distill, or disrespectful of the reader’s time. Without sounding like a marketer, just say what you do or want to do, provide evidence you do it well, and conclude by saying what you’d like the reader to do.
For example, “People have told me again and again that I’d be a great people manager. So after a decade as an analyst type, I’d love to be a project lead or manager.” Of course, employers wanting experience will reject you but that’s the sort of summary that will work best for a career changer.
It’s easier still to write a summary if you’ve been employed in your target field, for example, “After three years as a forensic accountant at Ernst & Young where I always got strong evaluations, they moved my unit to India. So I’m looking for another opportunity to play detective.” (If “play detective” feels too informal for you, use “do similar work.” But I prefer the more human “play detective.”)
8. FALSE: This is perhaps the best place to show your competence. The rest of your profile may be viewed as puffed-up. The summary, education, and experiences section allows you to upload work samples including video.
9. FALSE: That can make you appear desperate and/or too demanding of others’ time. Besides, almost no one has something worthy of broad distribution daily. Once or twice a week is about right. Only post when you have a fresh important idea, someone else’s great idea, or had a particularly impressive accomplishment. Regarding the latter, be sure you say it modestly, for example, “Phew. After two weeks, I’ve finally been able to come up for air. Our next-generation price-shopping app is up!” (include the link.)
10. FALSE. That’s true for super-popular companies like Google, Facebook, and Apple but less sexy organizations, especially small ones, may well notice and like your engagement. Making a savvy comment in response to some of their posts may well be worth the effort.
11. FALSE: While quietly, most people believe that recommendations are often puffed up, it’s an easily available assessment of quality and many people opt for easy. So ask your fans to write a LinkedIn recommendation. But because recommendation inflation is rampant, your fans must really think you’re terrific because a mildly positive review could be viewed as code for “Uh-uh.” Use LinkedIn’s Ask for Recommendation feature.
12. FALSE: Not only will your address be more memorable (e.g., LinkedIn.com/Marty Nemko,) Google will place it higher when people search on your name. And it’s easy. Just hover over your profile, click “Edit profile,” scroll down a bit, look to the right, click on “Customize your public profile URL” and type your desired URL. If your full name is not available, add your job title, alma mater, or city of residence.
13. FALSE: With a premium membership, you can see all of them.
14. FALSE: All you need to do is put the @ symbol immediately before the user’s or organization’s name in your status update.
Utterly Unvalidated Scoring Key
12-14 correct: LinkedIn Laureate
10-12: LinkedIn Elite
7-10: LinkedIn Learner
4-7: LinkedIn Laggard
Under 4: LinkedIn Luddite
Cloud or coffee?
True, you can spend too much time in social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. But today, the greater danger may be to spend too little.
Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.