Having a LinkedIn profile in today’s professional world is becoming essential. It plays a key role in building and maintaining your professional network base as well as your online presence. As Karen Burns, a career advice writer, states, it is an “efficient & effective way to stay in touch with a whole lot of people.” I was slower to adopt LinkedIn than others for a couple reasons. One, it’s not used much in my field (optometry), although that landscape is changing. And I felt self-conscious listing my credentials on the internet; I feared coming across as conceited (related: Sun wrote a great post about narcissism and blogging, here.)Despite these reasons, I eventually joined LinkedIn and now I’m happy I did. It’s been a nice addition to my professional networking toolbox and also serves as my digital Rolodex. Here are my
Top four benefits to using LinkedIn
1. LinkedIn’s Endorsements feature adds credibility to my professional profile through peer validation.
It’s one thing to toot my own horn, but it’s so much better if my colleagues do it for me. My connections vouch for my skills and expertise in a credible way. Endorsements have also served a way to see how my peers view me. For example, I feel I’m skilled in ‘medical education.’ Thanks to my endorsements I also know that others view me as being skilled in ‘clinical research,’ another area in which I work but do not self-promote. My LinkedIn profile also provides a glance at my work experience and personal interests. Past and present colleagues can add testimonials and endorsements, providing depth to references I’ve listed on my traditional CV.
2. LinkedIn helped me create a strong referral base and opened up job opportunities.
Linking my LinkedIn profile to my email contacts and Facebook friends is easy. The service also suggests “People I may know” to increase my number of connections. These help me build a solid foundation of referral sources who share symbiotic interests. In addition, recruiters often scout LinkedIn first to look for passive candidates. No active job-seeking on my part; opportunities come to me. Although I have no immediate need to look for a new job, this keeps me open to new career possibilities.
3. LinkedIn allows me to keep in touch with those in my network I normally do not interact.
I often meet people at conferences, work functions, or through colleagues of colleagues. But once the event has passed, it can be difficult for me to continue interacting with them on a regular basis. As my professional ‘Facebook,’ LinkedIn provides for me a casual avenue to remain active in their networks. In addition, the January 2013 report from the Pew Research Internet Project noted that LinkedIn is uniquely more popular in working individuals in the 50-64 year old range. So, it allows me to connect with others outside my age demographic who also share mutual interests and goals.
4. It’s free and requires little time.
I wouldn’t have joined LinkedIn if I had to pay and it took a lot of time to maintain. Thankfully, the majority of LinkedIn users dedicate less than 2 hours a week to cultivating their network. This is a small amount of time needed relative to the benefits gained. This is not an exhaustive list of all the benefits of LinkedIn; just the ones I’ve experienced. Using LinkedIn isn’t mandatory, and I wouldn’t recommend using LinkedIn just because you feel obligated. It requires active engagement in order to get the most benefit out of the social networking platform. But, the additional online visibility can be invaluable in opening doors for your career.
PS, there’s a great infographic on hubspot’s blog outlining “The Lowdown on LinkedIn.” It’s a quick snapshot of facts and figures about the social media network.