By Giuseppina Chiaramonte

The Hoffman Agency, San Jose

When it comes to social media, LinkedIn is just different. It doesn’t have the glitz of Pinterest or the speed of Twitter. The content shared isn’t as diverse as Facebook or as absorbing as YouTube. So why use it? Why bother with a social network that has often been labeled as boring?

Perhaps LinkedIn’s greatest strength lies in the fact that it is not an “escapist” form of social media. Or maybe a better way to put it: LinkedIn is boring, but in a good way. Users log in with a particular purpose in mind, get what they need and log back out. Its lack of visuals and focus on text means that there are not as many opportunities for procrastination.

It is these factors that make LinkedIn an indispensable tool, not just for job seeking, but for personal career branding. LinkedIn is the only social networking site that allows the focus to be solely on you – not on the meme you thought was funny, or the dress you thought was cute – but on where you’ve been in your career journey, what you’ve accomplished and where you hope to go. 

So how can you make the most of your LinkedIn experience? Once you fill in your profile, that’s it, right?

Wrong.

Personal career branding is not just filling in a form. It’s keeping that form updated and continually branching out.

Now, I’m the first to admit that I don’t make the most of my LinkedIn account, but that’s why I’m taking this pledge. Here are four things I vow to do (and that you can do too) to make the most of the LinkedIn experience.

1. Personalize interactions. (Repeat after me: No-more-generic-invites.)

A few weeks ago, The Hoffman Agency hosted a Global Summit on LinkedIn, and one of the most blatant points made was that using default messages is lazy. Remember, this is a professional networking site; so let’s be professional (not generic) in our requests to connect. It takes all of two seconds to do, and distinguishes you as conscientious human being, rather than a thoughtless robot.

2. Share content.

As compared to Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn does not receive the same amount of content love. The news feed is not as frequently refreshed, and it’s typically dominated by the same few people who share things. But you know what? It’s these people who share that I remember the most out of all of my connections. There really is no better way to illustrate an interest in what you do than by sharing news about it – whether it’s just an update or an industry article. 

3. Ask for recommendations and recommend gladly.

I have (sheepishly) asked for recommendations in the past, but I find that I am much less likely to recommend without being prompted. How lovely would it be if we recommended colleagues without being asked to? Recognized their good work just shortly after they’ve done it? It’d save us from scrambling for examples when asked for recommendations … and might give us some good LinkedIn karma.

4. Update your profile.

This tip should be obvious. Still, it’s surprising how consistently I ignore updating my profile. Just as with recommendations, keeping your accomplishments up to date will save you from a scramble when you actually need to have them. This can be easy enough to do: just take a few minutes at the end of each week to reflect on what you’ve done. If there’s anything significant, note it. Convert these notes into a profile update at the end of each month.

To sum up: LinkedIn is a wonderful tool, but it only works when people infuse some thought, courtesy and effort into using it. Maintaining any social media profile takes work, but doing it correctly can reap rewards.

What are some other ways that you are making the most of your LinkedIn profile? Feel free to connect with me and share your insights.

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