How do you use LinkedIn?

It can sometimes be difficult to get that work-life balance

Today office conversations turned to LinkedIn. Or rather “the point” of LinkedIn.

Whilst the office debate came up with some very valid comments, after mulling it over for a few hours I’ve decided that they don’t actually sum up the whole breadth of LinkedIn…

“It’s basically an online CV.”

Whilst in its essence this is true, LinkedIn is much more than a digitized Curriculum Vitae.  LinkedIn allows you to really unpack your achievements in a much more targeted and in-depth way than the traditional 2 pages of A4.  Within a few clicks a simple job title on paper is transformed into a mine of information; a potential employer can learn not only about your skills and employment history, but also they can find out about your company,  your role within the company, and even what your colleagues think about you.

It is the power of “Recommendations” that really catapults LinkedIn to a completely different realm to even a statically hosted online CV.  Here, potential employers don’t have to simply take you at your word; if you’re good at what you do, your colleagues can shout it from the rooftops.

It’s you with your professional hat on.”

Personally, this is what I believe LinkedIn should be: a professional persona representative of you in the workplace.

However, the waters can be muddied when users choose to sync their LinkedIn profiles to their ones on Twitter…

You wouldn’t apply for your dream job with a CV covered in coffee-mug rings, or attach of photo of yourself on a night out to a job application – so why do people choose to link their personal Twitter streams to their professional online persona?  Drunken Tweets may be amusing to your followers, but they won’t necessarily impress a potential boss.

So whilst generally I’m all for integration, personally I’m all for keeping these two platforms separate.   My tip: if you want to be able to Tweet on LinkedIn, make sure you keep a beady eye on your Account Settings and make use of the #in hashtag.

“I only ever Link with people I know really well.”

This is a bit of a bone of contention with me.  Firstly, whilst I can understand that a connection acceptance could be interpreted as a “stamp of approval”, this would surely leave the “Recommendation” function some-what redundant.

And secondly, how do you decide who you “know really well.”  Social interaction has gone beyond lattes over lunch, or a heart-to-heart over cocktails.  If you only link with people you “know really well,” how do you categorise your Twitter followers?  As LinkedIn is focused on networking it seems silly to exclude business contacts made on Twitter, from your LinkedIn connections.  If anything, I think a wise LinkedIn user should aim to move contacts made on Twitter on to LinkedIn in order to develop business relationships more fully.

The thing is, I’m in no-way a LinkedIn whiz-kid.  The lively office debate today proved to me that LinkedIn is used many ways to varying success – and this is just my interpretation of how LinkedIn should be used.

So if you’ve got any tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn please feel free to share… and a Recommendation or two wouldn’t hurt either. :p

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