LinkedIn 101: Getting Fancy

LinkedIn 101: Getting Fancy

by Kerry Scott on 16 July 2009

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This is the last installment in our series on using LinkedIn to find job opportunities. On Monday we talked about how to get started. Tuesday we focused on making connections.  Wednesday we explored how to participate in LinkedIn groups. Today we’ll wrap up with information on some of LinkedIn’s other features, like profile pictures, recommendations, and status updates. If you’re digging the series and want to make sure you don’t miss out on other stuff like this, you can subscribe to Clue Wagon via RSS and get posts delivered right to your desktop. If that’s too fancy, you can also subscribe via email.

A big round of applause for our special guest stars this week:

Let’s go!

Do I need a profile picture?

JENNIFER: I’d suggest adding a Profile picture. It’s 2009 and the internet/social networking is all about transparency, blah, blah, blah…. More and more, it likely makes you look like someone who is “not current” if you don’t include a professional headshot on your LinkedIn profile. (Note – I said professional headshot – not a picture of your dog, your family, a Second Life avatar, etc.). It’s helpful in appearing approachable and can be helpful in connecting with people out and about in the “real world”. In the answer above, I mentioned using your LinkedIn profile as your “on-line marketing brochure” and the most effective marketing brochures include pictures of the product instead of just words.

BETSY: This is a tough one!  I don’t think you need one, but I LOVE the pictures!  Last year, I was at a tradeshow, and someone came up to me and said, “Are you Betsy Curtin?” And I’m thinking, “uh oh, should I know you?”  And she could obviously see that I didn’t know her, and she said, “I’m Christina, we are friends on LinkedIn; and I wanted to introduce myself.” She recognized me from my profile picture! Crazy, right?

So, while I don’t think you need a picture, they help!

KERRY’S NOTE:  I’ve been resisting the entire picture movement in social media for a long time, because I HATE  having my picture taken.  I am definitely not America’s Next Top Model.  The thing is, Jennifer and Betsy are right…people feel more comfortable working with you online if they can see what you look like.  So now I’m adding photos (at least to a few places I frequent, like Twitter and the About page on this blog).  I’m still a little crabby about it, but resistance is futile in things like this, and as Jennifer points out, it can make you look out of touch.  That’s not good.

Do I need recommendations?  What’s the etiquette on asking for them?

JENNIFER: Recommendations are nice and the more you have, the higher you’ll show up in search results. When you do a search on LinkedIn, Profiles are indexed by level of completeness, number of connections and recommendations. It’s also a nice touch and adds some perceived credibility to your Profile. Good Recruiters will think that your Recommendations are nice, but they’ll still contact others who can speak about your professional history. It’s kind of a “check the box” thing. They’re a nice add, but I don’t think that people take points off if you don’t have any Recommendations. However, if you’re a Service Provider, then Recommendations are extra helpful because people can search LinkedIn for Service Providers. You’ll show up higher in the search results based upon the number of Recommendations you have—which could likely lead to business opportunities.

As for asking for Recommendations, I’d only ask people that you know well and those that can provide real feedback on your actual work performance. Also, if you’re going to ask for Recommendations, then do it over time—so all of your Recommendations don’t show up on your Profile on the same day. If a person has 10 Recommendations all written within a few days of each other, then I can probably assume that they asked for them. Again, I won’t take points off for that, but it’s certainly nicer to think that your Recommendations were written as a result of someone’s high opinion of you, versus you asking for it.

A good way to get some Recommendations without asking for them is to write some. Typically, if you recommend someone, they will recommend you back. Makes you feel better that way.

BETSY: I don’t really like the recommendations feature.  When I’m recruiting, and check someone out on LinkedIn, I don’t read their recommendations.  Why? Well, for instance, I know of a few people who gave each other glowing recommendations and it was all BS.  I know not all recommendations on LinkedIn are written by people 2 feet away from each other saying, “Hey, if you write a recommendation for me, I’ll write one for you.” But I still don’t trust them as a reference.

KERRY’S NOTE: I’ve already talked about why I hate them.  That’s really the only thing about LinkedIn I don’t like.

How does the status update thing work?  Will I look like a teenybopper if I use it?

JENNIFER: In my opinion, the LinkedIn Status Update is one of the most powerful parts of LinkedIn (used wisely). LinkedIn isn’t Facebook or Twitter, so I’d recommend keeping it professional and posting only Status Updates that support your professional brand. Post about events that you’re attending so people in your network will know that you’re going/may meet up with you there. Share a link to something you found interesting in your industry or profession (establish credibility). Ask a question of your network. Promote your stuff—blog posts, events, products, etc.—but do it in a way that’s not irritating. (Practice the art of subtlety). Resist the temptation to post or comment on items not related to work. Take that stuff to Twitter and share it with the world.

BETSY: You’ll look like a teenybopper if you post something every 5 minutes that reads, “In line to get Jonas brothers tickets!!”  I like reading updates that are related to my networks’ careers, something they are reading, or if they are going to a conference, etc.  Since I’m a recruiter, in the outdoor/sport industries, I also love when people post updates on new adventures, such as, “Got away from my desk today and hiked 18 miles in Sonoma!”  When I see something like that, I email that connection and engage in a conversation.  I’ll say, “Where did you hike?” and that usually starts a great dialog!

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

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{ 2 comments }

Jennifer McClure July 16, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Thanks for the opportunity to participate in this series Kerry! I’ve enjoyed learning from yours and Betsy’s answers as well and will now have a place to direct people to for some basic answers on how to use LinkedIn. Thanks again!

Kerry Sandberg Scott July 17, 2009 at 6:01 am

Thank YOU Jennifer (and Betsy)! I got a number of emails from people I know who said it was hugely helpful, and I’ve already seen some friends from my old company applying some of the things they’ve learned from you this week. I (and they) really appreciate all the time you took to share your insight.

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