Become "LinkedIn" To Online Networking

linkedin_large.jpg

Become "LinkedIn" To Online Networking

By: coopcom
  6256 reads

If you’re a student, you are probably already familiar with Facebook, the “social networking utility” that is eating up both time and bandwidth on university campuses around the world. Facebook can be entertaining – it’s a great way to share photos and plan social events. But as a number of commentators have already pointed out, if it is not used responsibly, Facebook can also be fraught with potential pitfalls. Many employers now search Facebook when evaluating prospective job candidates. So if you find yourself being mysteriously passed over for jobs, you may want to try deleting some of the vulgar language and/or pictures of you doing keg-stands from your profile (or at least consider increasing your privacy settings).

Of course this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have fun with your Facebook account, but it does mean you should be conscious of what you post. After all, Facebook is essentially a public forum. You should also be aware that there are more professional alternatives available if you’re looking to network with co-workers and other people working in your industry. Enter LinkedIn.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn is a web-based “social networking” site. But unlike Facebook, it is mainly designed for professional networking. As of October 2007, the site had approximately 15 million active users, and all five hundred of the Fortune 500 companies maintained corporate memberships.

LinkedIn works in much the same way as Facebook, but with a few important differences. Users maintain a profile, but these profiles don't typically feature the sort of personal information found on Facebook. Indeed, a properly constructed LinkedIn profile contains much of the same information as a resume and could actually be used as a substitute for a stand-alone “e-portfolio.”

LinkedIn users build networks of “trusted contacts.” These contacts are typically coworkers, former colleagues or supervisors and former classmates. And because LinkedIn is based on a “gated access” philosophy, contact with a member requires either a pre-existing relationship or the intervention of a third-party contact. This is intended to build trust among the service's users.

The content of LinkedIn user profiles is also accessible through search engines such as Google, allowing prospective employers to scout for potential job candidates online.

Technology author Guy Kawasaki offers useful tips for effectively using LinkedIn to expand your professional network. He suggests ways to improve your Google PageRank, increase your “connectability” and gauge the health of a particular company or industry using LinkIn’s built-in features.

However there is one caveat that you should keep in mind if you’re considering joining LinkedIn: networking websites are meant to augment, not replace more traditional networking skills. Online contacts are much more disposable than real world connections. So brush up on those networking skills, practice your handshake and print out some business cards – you still can’t beat the face-to-face meeting.

Beyond the Article

Read Christy Kazulin’s article on how use Facebook responsibly. Carolyn Warner offers additional tips here.

Posted on April 22, 2012