In the last half decade, the professional world has been turned up on its end. From what was a place of physical rolodexes and Palm Pilots, the world has now become a foggy mess of LinkedIn requests and Facebook stalks. Online social networks are extremely important and can be better utilized to your advantage so long as you take a proactive role.
Since the first days of AOL Instant Messenger, it has become difficult to separate and distinguish between professional maneuvering and social networking. I have amassed a few tips to best navigate the digital realm so you can succeed in the real world.
Today, we will focus on LinkedIn:
1. Do not request strangers- A connection is an endorsement. While you may want to be connected to the CEO of the organization you hope to one day work for, do not unless you know him or her personally. Ask for an introduction, message/email/call them, or wait to meet them offline. You may come across as insincere or even seem as if you are intending to use the connection without establishing a real relationship.
2. Do not accept strangers-A connection is an endorsement. Otherwise, this stranger will be just a name on a list that you cannot give value to or receive value from. Best case scenario is he or she becomes the next American President. The worst case scenario is he or she tops America’s Most Wanted list.
3. Leverage strangers- When a stranger does request you on LinkedIn, use this to your advantage. Using your best judgment, message back the person requesting your connection. Sincerely ask them how they know you. Better yet, if you do see potential value in this person as a connection, request that you get to know them in order to truly form a meaningful relationship. You would be surprised what connections can be made from this simple task.
4. Keep your recommendations relevant- If your LinkedIn profile were a sneak peek to a book about you, the past and current experiences are like chapters, the education is the appendix and the recommendations are the reviews on the back dustcover. If you choose to give or receive them at all, make sure they will be relevant in the future and from people that will legitimize your case. While your adorable Aunt Bee may love you and thinks you were an incredible playwright in middle school, visitors to your profile may only focus on her message and may not want to hire you for that corporate recruiter position you’ve been eyeing.
5. Use a title that suits you- If your current position does not capture you or reflect where you are headed, change it. LinkedIn gives you the power to make a creative title, use this option if you would like. Be aware of your potential audience so you don’t turn them off before they even get a chance to scroll down the page.
Max Ukropina is the Director of Programs at America’s Future Foundation
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