How to Build Meaningful Connections on LinkedIn

 

Using LinkedIn to build professional connections can be a powerful tool in your business arsenal. LinkedIn boasts millions of members, and your profile on the site has a huge array of ways to showcase your professional talents and accomplishments. I’ve talked before about how to put together a great profile that will help you get found by other people who might be good connections. But who exactly should you be connecting with?

Like I said above, LinkedIn has millions of users. So should you accept connection requests from everyone who sends them? Probably not. While LinkedIn is a professional website, it is not free from spammers and people who are not looking to make actual connections. LinkedIn is a good place to be selective when it comes to saying yes to connection requests.

In order to attract the right kind of connections, here are a few things you can do to your profile:

  • Figure out a strategy as to how you want yourself to be seen on LinkedIn. Do you want to paint yourself as an expert in a particular field or niche? If so, make sure that you use the right keywords when it comes to your summary and work descriptions.
  • Think about your target audience. Are you looking to join professional groups or have them notice you? Tailor your content as such.
  • Think about how much time you have to spend making connections on LinkedIn. Once you have a time frame in mind, you can come up with a game plan.

So how do you decide who to let into your LinkedIn network? Here are a few tips:

  • I generally say yes to anyone that I know. You can take this strategy, or you can be selective in who you add. Just be prepared for questions or reminders from colleagues or acquaintances who you have chosen not to add to your network.
  • If the request is coming from someone who you don’t know, take a minute to look over their profile. Do you have something in common? Maybe you went to the same college, had the same major, or worked for the same company in the past. Maybe you have a mutual friend or professional connection. Vet the person who is asking before saying yes or no.
  • Don’t feel bad about saying no. It’s fine to keep your professional network relatively closed. If you don’t see any value in adding the person who has requested to join your network, then don’t!

When building out your connections on LinkedIn, remember that you are in control. Follow these tips above and you’ll be on your way to building meaningful connections.

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Is LinkedIn Becoming Just Another Resume Site?

 

I have blogged quite a bit about LinkedIn being an important site to maintain a professional presence on. We’ve discussed what to include or not include in a profile and why it’s a good idea to give a comprehensive picture of what your skills, job history, and education entail. So why is LinkedIn under fire from job seekers as well as employers?

Sites like Career Builder and Monster have been around for quite some time. Typically, these sites offer free memberships to people who are seeking jobs while they charge employers to post job listings. This makes sense, right? The job seeker and the employer both benefit, as the seeker is able to browse and apply for many different listings, and the employer gets a wide variety of applications to choose from.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, has always billed itself as a place for people to make professional connections. At first, the ability to look for a job or a new employee on the site was just a perk. Now, LinkedIn is turning job hunting into a business entity. While it does seem like a natural fit for the site, since the focus is on professional skills, some people feel as though LinkedIn is going about this shift the wrong way.

If you choose to post your resume or apply for jobs on LinkedIn, there is the opportunity to pay roughly $30/month to have your resume bumped to the top of the pile on job listings that you apply for. However, employers can see by a special badge that is assigned to your profile that you have in fact paid for this upgrade. So while your application may be more visible, employers are also able to tell that you paid. This may accomplish the results that you’re looking for – employers may look more closely at your application. But it may also have the opposite effect. Employers may discount people with paid memberships, assuming that they are underqualified and need to pay to have their application bumped to the top of the proverbial pile rather than let their experience speak for itself.

So essentially, LinkedIn is profiting not only from companies who choose to pay to advertise open positions on the site, but also from job-seekers who pay their monthly fee.

So does all of this mean that you shouldn’t use LinkedIn? No. I think it’s still important to maintain a great presence on the site. While it can be used for job hunting, it’s still a great place to network and showcase your skills. If you are using the site to find or post a job, understand how the process works specifically on LinkedIn and consider carefully whether the paid membership is worth it. Also, if you are an employer, it’s always important to review as many candidates as you can. You never know who could be the perfect fit for your company.

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Social Networking for…Everything?

 

It’s no secret that social networks have quite literally taken over the world. With networks such as Facebook and Twitter boasting billions of users, social networking has become front and center for just about everything we do in life. So much so, that most people don’t ever unplug.  People are constantly on social networks primarily for personal endeavors, like posting pictures, videos, updates on everyday life, and talking with friends. Is there social networking for everything? New networks are popping up every day, many with specific purposes. In addition to dedicated social networks, many existing sites are also adding a social aspect as well.

Here are some industries that have recently been infiltrated by social media:

Real Estate

It only makes sense that renting or buying/selling a home or apartment would go social. In the past, if a person had a house to rent, they had to rely on a sign in the yard and word of mouth to let people know that the space was available. Now, there are several social networks dedicated to helping people find places to live. A few examples:

  • Trulia, which invites response from real estate agents
  • Crashpad, which can help you find an apartment as well as a roommate

Travel

Travel sites are nothing new; booking travel online has become a way of life for many people. But the social aspect of booking travel online is a relatively new scene. Sites like Trip Advisor and Home Away not only offer hotel and airline reservations, but they also have reviews of popular attractions and local businesses. Another idea that is new to the travel scene is home swapping. Website pair up people who are interested in travelling and they arrange to stay in each other’s homes, eliminating some travel costs. If this isn’t social, then I don’t know what is.

Restaurants

Social reviews of restaurants has probably been around the longest. Sites like Urbanspoon and Yelp have offered people the ability to rate and review restaurants (and with Yelp, other businesses as well) for several years now. I have to admit that Urbanspoon is one of my favorite sites to visit. It’s fun to read about other people’s experiences at restaurants. These sites can give you an idea of what to expect from the perspective of other patrons, not just food critics or the restaurant itself.

As always, it’s important to exercise caution when using any of these networks. Beware of how much personal information that you broadcast, the internet is an endless archive and once you put that information out there, it’s going to be there forever. And remember, just because a restaurant has great reviews on Urbanspoon doesn’t mean that it’s really all that great!

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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.