Looking at LinkedIn

(This post is part of our 2014 Resolve to Evolve program.)

You may think of LinkedIn as just one more social networking site that you won’t have the time or energy to maintain, so perhaps you haven’t set up or attended to your profile in quite a while. But LinkedIn is different because it’s the number one networking site for professionals and can play an important role in advancing your career, whether you maintain your profile or not! Here are nine reasons you should look into LinkedIn, from Forbes magazine.

1. It has millions of members. With over 225 million members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Today, it’s assumed that you have a LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, can you be taken seriously as a career-minded executive? Brand-conscious leaders don’t turn their backs on two hundred million prospects.

2. It shows up at the top of Google searches.When someone googles you, your LinkedIn profile will likely show up in the first or second spot – that’s some powerful Google juice! This is important because, according to a Gravitate Online study of over 8 million clicks, more than 94% of users clicked on the first page results while fewer than 6% clicked to the second page. The first and second positions get 50% of all clicks.

3. People are researching you. All kinds of people use all kinds of ways to learn about you. LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to control what they discover about your strengths and, more important, about your brand. Who are these people? People you know. People who want to know you. People who matter: Your prospects, employees, manager, clients, competitors. They all use LinkedIn to learn about others. They search for you before meeting you for the first time, or after reading an article that you were featured in, or when deciding whether to respond to your email.

4. It’s packed with invaluable resources.LinkedIn helps you expand your success by offering crucial connections and expertise. Need to source staff? Want to solve problems that can’t be solved by the people in your company? Need to open doors with clients or partners? Need a service provider referral? Want to research what the competition is doing? Need to see who’s in a prospective client’s network? LinkedIn puts all of these assets at your fingertips.

5. You don’t know what you’re missing out on. While you’re reading this, someone is searching LinkedIn for the services you provide. You need to make sure you’re highly visible to that person.  This means having a complete profile that’s replete with the right keywords – related to your thought-leadership – so opportunities can easily come to you. In the future, there will be no job listings. Hiring managers will use their social networks and tools like LinkedIn to find the ideal candidate.

6. You’ll stay ultra-current. Following thought-leaders and companies helps you stay on top of what’s happening in your industry or job function – firsthand info that is unfiltered by the media. Also, through brand association, you make a statement about yourself whenever you follow a company or leader. Those names influence the people who are viewing your profile.

7. You’ll automatically remain connected. In a world where we’re all overwhelmed with more tasks than time, staying on the radar of our ever-growing group of contacts is a challenge. LinkedIn allows you to update your status regularly, instantly letting everyone in your audience know what’s new in your world and where to find you. You can expand this audience easily by joining groups, which give you added opportunities to post your thoughts and comment on others’ posts.

8. It’s the most efficient way to manage your network. Thanks to the opportunity to use tags, you can arrange you contacts into groups that make sense to you. LinkedIn becomes your perpetual contacts database – while allowing you to share information with various subsets of your contacts. If you use the “find alumni” feature and click on the company logos for your first jobs, you can add contacts from your schools and former employers. Through these tools, LinkedIn becomes your own CRM system for managing and communicating with contacts. You no longer need to use your email as your contacts manager or worry about lost connections when you leave one employer and move to another.

9. It’s the ultimate personal branding platform. LinkedIn provides one of the best opportunities to increase your visibility and credibility with members of your brand community. It lets you stay connected to large networks of contacts. Now that you can add videos and images in your summary and experience fields, you can develop a truly three-dimensional view of your brand. Using all the features of this powerful online tool will help you paint a compelling picture of who you are in the real world.

Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is PEAK Grantmaking's communications and practices director. You can find her on Twitter @nikkiwpowell.