David (AKA The Benevolent Curmudgeon):

dscn4331In several prior posts about my experiences with LinkedIn, I have pondered and sought advice about how  I —with one foot in academe and the other in the business world—might most profit from and contribute to LinkedIn. Thanks to those of you who have made constructive suggestions. Since those postings, I have joined several linked in groups.  I have explored many of LinkedIn’s (continually evolving) premium features such as “learning”( aka Lynda.com). I have examined the usefulness of SlideShare (here is an example of its value in a recent posting there by Jane Hart). I have participated in some LinkedIn surveys of the “LinkedIn Premium Insiders Community” (and found them far too generic).

Which of these features do you use? Which features have I failed to discover? How do you keep up with a constantly changing interface? I realize that one way to answer these questions is for me to systematically go through all menus (especially the privacy controls).

To be fair, I have benefitted by selectively and systematically expanding my network.  I have discovered a few “Influencers” worth my following and learning from. I have also learned how to subscribe to RSS feeds which enhance my personal learning plan. I have  explored using hashtags for my postings, and I am making more time to read and to respond thoughtfully to a number of thoughtful posts and comments (far too many comments are snarky but that is opportunity cost).

I have found particularly enlightening the good work of Maya Pope-Chappell, Education and Millennial Editor of LinkedIn. She writes well, has championed efforts to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas from higher education and the business world and has increased opportunities (and recognition) for involvement by college students. [See, for example, her screencast targeted for college and university students about how to write for LinkedIn]. I urge that “older” (more experienced) LinkedIn users recognize that this incoming work force can serve a valuable mentoring function for you if you tap into their knowledge of how to use social learning tools to supplement or to replace more formal, traditional formal training programs.

Things I dislike about LinkedIn:

  • I still find the “post publishing platform” primitive and user-unfriendly. It is far inferior and far less intuitive to that of WordPress (though far superior to Yammer’s). My work-around has been to write LinkedIn blog pieces targeted for a LinkedIn audience on another platform and then migrate them into the LinkedIn editor after proof-reading.
  • I find many of the articles posted in LinkedIn far two “formulaic” for my taste: Promises of THE “seven”proven ways to increase my (fill in the buzzword). [I’ve ranted written about my love distaste  thoughts about “buzzwords” here and here.] I prefer substance to platitudes or bullet-points (but that may be due to the academic world I inhabit).
  • I get annoyed by my inability to read some articles  unless I turn off my ad blockers, “white list” the target website, or switch to another computer for which I have not turned on ad-blockers.

What suggestions do you have that might enhance the value of LinkedIn to me? Or, (as some have suggested) do am I a stranger in a strange land and I not belong on this network?

For a refreshingly “non peevish” take on LinkedIn, I invited about a year ago one of my research assistants, Alison Lehman who is quite knowledgable about LinkedIn (she wrote about it in her first book) to share her perspectives about it. Even as she approaches the time of her university graduation in May of 2017, she is most enthusiastic about it. I continue to learn from her!

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Alison wrote …

“Rapidly growing and expanding, LinkedIn is an online, social networking site for individuals to connect with other professionals and post their professional accomplishments, experiences, and volunteer activities. With the technological advances that exist today, employers are not only looking at an individual’s hard copy resume but they are also turning to LinkedIn to put a face to the name, as well as seeing how the individual presents themselves online. LinkedIn is an interactive website to compile education history, past experiences, skills, interests, completed projects, and various other professional expertise; pretty much an online resume for others to see. With connecting and providing experiences, this opens the door to future jobs and valuable professional relationships. Creating a LinkedIn profile can help grow connections in the business world and displays qualifications and experience for jobs.

Getting Started:

To create a LinkedIn profile, an individual can go to the LinkedIn website and create their profile with an email address and password. An individual is then prompted to insert information about themselves, such as a brief autobiography, past education experience, and professional work history. Additionally, information can be entered about volunteer experiences or  organizations’ they care about, institutions they are affiliated with, certifications received, and a list of personal skills. LinkedIn will then organize all of the information into an organized profile page. The user can customize where each section of information will fall (e.g. either at the top of the profile or farther down). Other individuals can also endorse the skills you have listed on your profile. This feature is a quick way for connections to validate that the individual is well qualified in the skills they have listed.

Users are able to create an online profile with as much professional information about themselves as they see pertinent. LinkedIn creates a profile composed of an individual’s professional history, education, and achievements. Similar to a resume, but in an online format, LinkedIn allows other individuals to review your professional endeavors and education. Through LinkedIn, users potentially are more able to find jobs, locate other individuals in their field of study, and discover business and volunteer opportunities. Especially for college students, LinkedIn can be a viable way to make professional connections, search for internships or positions in one’s desired career path, and make connections with other professionals who can give valuable advice or guidance for the future.

Getting the most out of LinkedIn:

The feature that most individuals see on LinkedIn is your picture, name, and professional headline. Since most attention is placed on these three elements, they should be strategically created to help emphasize your field of study and strengths. While a professional headshot is ideal, professional photographers can be expensive to hire. The LinkedIn picture does not need to be taken by a professional but it should be a professional-looking headshot. The professional headline should be crafted to include keywords related to your field of study/work. These keywords can help other professionals find your profile and explore your experiences and strengths. This 120 character opportunity can be used as a mini pitch to quickly showcase your area of expertise and skill set.

Since LinkedIn allows users to compile a profile with sections ranging from education experience, publications, projects, interests, and many more, as much of the profile should be filled out as possible to utilize the ability to display abilities and interests to other professionals. Putting skills and accomplishments on LinkedIn is a way for others to recognize your strengths and reach out when jobs or projects seem relevant. Some of these sections include adding a professional profile picture of oneself and even, if one chooses, adding a cover photo that will be displayed behind the profile. With the ability to include summaries, experiences, and educational history, these allow the user to demonstrate and expand on their qualifications and professional achievements. Some of these sections are education, contact information, professional industry, volunteer experiences, and certifications. Completing all the LinkedIn sections allows individuals to both keep track of their experiences and accomplishments in their life, and also helps showcase these talents and skills to other individuals. But remember, do not just throw down quick information to complete each section. Instead, think strategically about word choice and the way you want to communicate your information to others.

Once the profile is up and running, it is time to make connections. By adding connections with other individuals, others will be able to see and explore your profile. When adding connections,  some individuals add anyone to increase their connection numbers.  Others prefer to make connections only with individuals whom they personally know. If one simply has hundreds of connections but does not take advantage of what these connections could offer, it defeats the purpose. Connections help individuals stay in contact with old classmates, colleagues or friends, make professional connections for future jobs, receive advice from others in their field of study, and share information among groups. With the email address used to create a LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn will automatically suggest connections to individuals in your email list who have a LinkedIn account with that similar email. One can also look for connections by searching for their name, a company name, a specific industry, or a school name. There are so many benefits that LinkedIn provides, but it is up to the individual to leverage how best to take advantage of these features.

LinkedIn also allows individuals to create a custom URL to their profile. The URL that comes with a profile is normally a group of random letters and numbers. In just a couple of minutes, one can create a custom URL, such as his/her name. If the name is already taken, one can try to add a middle initial or add his/her middle name completely. Also, one way to get involved on LinkedIn is through groups. Individuals can join professional groups which share information or advice among members, and post or search for jobs. Groups allow individuals to communicate between one another and to expand their knowledge. It is a great way to meet new individuals and make new connections. Anyone with a LinkedIn profile can create a group that can be customized to the topic they are interested in. LinkedIn provides a free service, but it also has an option for individuals to pay for more features. For college students, the free version of LinkedIn is a great way to put together an online resume, but also get a start exploring the professional world for after graduation.

LinkedIn for Carroll University Students:

In addition, LinkedIn has a feature called “find alumni”. This feature allows one to look for alumni that attended their same university. After selecting this tab, a page is brought up with all the alumni and that can be sorted by their college concentrations, current area living, interests, skills or current job placement.  This feature allows one to see where your peers are currently living in the world and how they are using their skills in their career paths. Also, individuals can look at other professionals’ profiles to get tips and advice on opportunities alumni pursued to obtain jobs or even possible organizations to could work for. The find alumni tools is a great starting point to explore possible career options, connect with alumni that share similar interests, or get inspiration for volunteer activities or clubs to join while still at the university.

LinkedIn is very beneficial for business purposes. One may want to find a job sooner than the usual applying to multiple different places. One is able to put just his/her information out on this website and have others looking for them. Their information is on there just as if their resume would be. People are able to look up certain students, adults, business partners, etc. on LinkedIn and possibly find someone they could potentially hire for a position they have opening for at their business. Also, LinkedIn is very useful in connecting with others you may have known from a past job experience, high school, college, etc.”

What advise would you give Alison and my other students —soon about to enter the work force —about how they will be using or should be using LinkedIn? What features of it are they likely to learn about only while on the job? How will there world change in terms of access and use of social media tools?

Posted by Professor David Simpson

Professor of Psychology, Carroll University (USA), Lover of Dogs, Reading, Teaching and Learning. Looking for ways to enhance cross-global communication and to apply technology learning tools.

3 Comments

  1. Which of these features do you use? Which features have I failed to discover? How do you keep up with a constantly changing interface? I realize that one way to answer these questions is for me to systematically go through all menus (especially the privacy controls).
    Answer- I use the feature of connecting with others that I know as well as the feature of looking at others connections to see if I know anybody and am able to connect with them. How I constantly keep changing my interface is by making sure my information is updated as well as my connections with people.
    What suggestions do you have that might enhance the value of LinkedIn to me? Or, (as some have suggested) do am I a stranger in a strange land and I not belong on this network?
    Answer- Possibly categorizing people on LinkedIn into groups and having a label on their profile of what group they are in so that it is easier to find people for a certain profession, connection, and etc.
    What advise would you give Alison and my other students —soon about to enter the work force —about how they will be using or should be using LinkedIn? What features of it are they likely to learn about only while on the job? How will there world change in terms of access and use of social media tools?
    Answer- To update their LinkedIn constantly and to make sure they are reaching out to others. Also, to put their input out into the real world so that others will know that they are not afraid to speak their opinion and share the information they know.

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  2. LinkedIn offers a wide variety of features which I think individuals from any profession can benefit. With LinkedIn, users can search for jobs, network with other professionals in their line of work, and stay updated on business news. Users come from diverse backgrounds which benefits the content on LinkedIn. There is always information to be learned from different lines of work to broaden understanding and increase knowledge.

    Even though I am currently a student and not looking for a line of work, I still benefit from seeing where alumni from Carroll University have pursued graduate school and the jobs the alumni currently hold that involve their psychology or Spanish degrees. This information helps me think about places to work, what types of activities I can be doing as an undergrad, and what graduate schools might be a good fight for my major and interests.

    If anything, LinkedIn is essential to keep options open. Users have an online version of their resume available at any moment, a database of other users to network with and grow professionally, and the opportunity to search for jobs.

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  3. Which of these features do you use? Which features have I failed to discover? How do you keep up with a constantly changing interface? I realize that one way to answer these questions is for me to systematically go through all menus (especially the privacy controls).
    Answer- I definitely use the feature of connecting with others in order to find other connections. Also, when I post information about myself, I find many more connections with people who go to the same university I do or that work at the same company I do. How I keep up with changing interface is by going through all my information and making sure it is up to date. Editing information that I am currently doing or that I used to do. Also, I edit my connections to make sure I am connected to people who I have had a relationship with or continuously have one with.
    What suggestions do you have that might enhance the value of LinkedIn to me? Or, (as some have suggested) do am I a stranger in a strange land and I not belong on this network?
    Answer- Possibly having labels on your profiles so that companies and organizations know who you are and where you are at in your life. An example would be myself having the title “College Student” and any companies looking for younger employees with some college education could search “college students” or put under the job description in a tag “college student” and any college students in that area would be notified of this opening and that they might fulfill some of the requirements.
    What advise would you give Alison and my other students —soon about to enter the work force —about how they will be using or should be using LinkedIn? What features of it are they likely to learn about only while on the job? How will there world change in terms of access and use of social media tools?
    Answer- I think they should be using Linked In to seek connections with people and hopefully finding corporations that are seeking for new employees that are straight out of college. Also, they should be updating their LinkedIn every week and getting their opinions and facts out there to the world to become more noticed and be seen as a unique individual versus the same college student.

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