You're Either LinkedIn or You're Out: LinkedIn Best Practices

By Shannon Maguire Are you on LinkedIn? If you said no, you are directly jeopardizing your career or brand growth. Why, you ask? Because, with 238 million members (40% of whom check the site daily), LinkedIn has become the standard for networking, resume building, searching for jobs, and now, searching for colleges.  However, it is not enough to simply have a LinkedIn profile. You must be active, approachable, and adaptable in two areas of LinkedIn: individual and branded.

Type 1: Individual Professional Profile

Be active: Join groups (there are 2.1M to choose from), connect to coworkers and classmates, and start posting. There's more to you than your resume, sure you may be great on paper, but you should be expanding your network and showing your personality in order to compete in this job market. A flat sheet of paper with a few bullet points just doesn't cut it anymore (even if it's pink...and it's scented).

Be approachable: Step back and look at your profile. You should answer yes to the following:

  • Is your most recent position listed?
  • Is your photo clear and of only you? (No selfies or bad crop jobs.)
  • Is your photo and your summary professional?
  • Is your profile complete? (Having a complete profile is not only desirable to employers, but also to potential connections.)

Be adaptable: Just like every other social network, LinkedIn is constantly growing and changing, which means you should be too. Embrace the change, take advantage of every possible new feature. For instance, as of this summer, mobile users can now apply to jobs directly from the app, making it more convenient than ever.

Type 2: Branded/Company Pages

Be active: Every brand with a LinkedIn presence should strive to reach fans, employees, and partners. Whether you're Mashable or McDonald's, your brand had something to share with the community that pertains to your business. This doesn't mean you should be publishing content similar to your Facebook and Twitter profiles. While from time to time you can re-purpose content, make sure you're sharing industry news and insights that pertain to your audience.

Be approachable: This tactic can be explained in three simple words, have a voice. If you are going as far as to create a LinkedIn presence, be present. Ask and answer questions, agree or disagree with comments, whatever you do... just do.

Be adaptable: Just as LinkedIn has introduced updates to personal profiles, it has also made huge strides for brand promotion on the site. For instance, as I mention above and in my recent blog, Linked in recently began allowing brand page administrators to 'act' as their company within the page. From experience, I can say, you don't just learn to be a Community Manager in a day, so companies had to look at their engagement and decide how to approach this new feature -- and quickly! The most recent update, is the introduction of LinkedIn University Pages. While you may think that this affects colleges and colleges alone, there is much more to consider. Firstly, LinkedIn will be dropping its minimum age requirement to 14, allowing for the previously untapped younger market to thrive on the networking site. And secondly, University Pages will also feature a list of the top employers of alumni. With this new feature, one day, your company might just be the reason why little Suzy chooses the University of Michigan over the University of Illinois. Come graduation, let's just hope her profile and work history is up to date.

How will you make the most out of your personal or brand LinkedIn? Share in the comments below.