Where Facebook is explicitly geared towards personal use, LinkedIn focusses on professional connections. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, and it allows you to build an online profile that features your experience and skills. It also allows you to network with other users in a professional environment, so it provides a great way to connect with contacts from your current work world, and connect with people from worlds you’d like to work in. LinkedIn profiles tend to feature highly in Google searches (not as high as profile pages with .ac.uk suffixes), however a well-constructed LinkedIn profile can be a great way to develop your online brand, and your employability.
You’re not required to set up an account on LinkedIn for this Thing, but we strongly recommend that you do. You’ll need an account to explore many of the tools’ features, and it’s a good way to improve your professional presence online.
Getting an account on LinkedIn is simple, and you can register from the home page. Make sure you fill in your profile fully. The wizard will help you with this. Remember that these are professional networks, so your photo, taglines and activities should be those you’d be happy with employers and colleagues seeing. LinkedIn allows you to upload your CV straight into your account (with a chance to edit and format, of course!), which offers an easy way to get all your job information in.
Once you’ve signed up, try adding colleagues or other contacts. Successful social media use requires that you actively connect with people and give them something to interact with, rather than just setting up an account and leaving it. If you already have a profile but haven’t used it very much, you might think about these aspects next. You can use your email accounts to find ‘connections’. Don’t be worried about sending requests to contacts that you know, and even contacts that you don’t know; it’s considered fairly normal. Try taking this a step further; rather than just sending a request to connect, send a message with a question or a comment.
LinkedIn offers groups, which allow you to join others based around a sector, place of work or other interest – for example, the University of Surrey, or the Researcher Development Programme. or those in this list of great groups for academics. You can also search for groups. LinkedIn also allows you to see who has viewed your profile, send private messages and give and ask for recommendations and skill endorsements.
Many people find LinkedIn useful as a tool for job searching. Employers can post jobs but, more importantly, your profile can give you the opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself to potential employers. Having endorsements and recommendations can help. Try asking for a recommendation for your current or previous position.