It’s never too late to join the 150 million networkers, job seekers and business professionals around the globe whose qualifications are being viewed on the #2 most popular social networking site in America: LinkedIn. Ready to jump in? Congrats – you’ll want these helpful tips to avoid newbie mis-steps and create a better LinkedIn experience as you set up your account and add connections. In my next article, I’ll share pointers about building an effective profile including headlines, summaries, experience descriptions, recommendations and groups.
1. Sign up using a personal e-mail account, always, for LinkedIn, and save your password! If you want to use LinkedIn for business development, by all means show a work e-mail but ensure that you have a second, personal e-mail approved and in LinkedIn’s system (add additional e-mails under SETTINGS > ACCOUNT > Add & Change E-Mail Addresses). If your account is only connected to a work e-mail, you run the risk of losing access to it. It’s happened before: someone gets bad news about their job, had their e-mail turned off, and then are left without access to change out their profile to a personal e-mail. And, too many people take a new job and forget to change their primary contact e-mail on LinkedIn - this means a LOT of people are wondering how to get in touch with you, and their requests to connect are going unanswered. As for your password, capture it somewhere. I work with many newer LinkedIn members who are stumped because they can’t remember their password. These folks keep on making duplicate new profiles, and it’s confusing for others to know which is the active one. Write that password down and tape it to the inside of a closet, drawer or under furniture – whatever works!
2. Don’t stress about selecting your Industry, which is a drop down list – there’s no option to customize that field. Many job seekers are in transition, moving from one type of employer to another – don’t stop filling out your profile because you don’t have the perfect answer, today. You can edit your Industry as often as you wish (choose Profile>Edit Profile and click EDIT after your name). Want to be in a new type of job or profession? Select the Industry in which you wish to land. After you spend more time looking at others’ profiles, you’ll get a sense if your industry should stay, or be changed. In LinkedIn, nothing is written in stone!
4. What profile level do you want? You want FREE. You don’t need the Premium account, and very few people ever purchase one. You will probably receive several tempting offers over the next few months to “trial” a premium account, and if you do, make certain you actually turn off the auto credit charge feature. 95% of people have a maximum LinkedIn experience at a minimum cost – nothing. So don’t worry that you’re missing out on some magical secret experience with a free account – you aren’t.
5. The moment your profile is created, you see a page that says People You May Know – and are shocked that you actually DO know some of these folks. You wonder, “how did LinkedIn do that? I’ve been on this for 12 minutes and this system already guessed who I know?” Remember, you sign in to LinkedIn using an e-mail account. If it was a work account, of course LinkedIn recognizes other work colleagues with the same e-mail identifier. And if it’s a personal account, you may be showing up in members’ e-mail contact lists. Don’t freak out – if any of these are authentic connections, people you know, go ahead and click the CONNECT button to start building links!