You may be one of the more than 200 million people with a profile on LinkedIn, but are you making the most of this resource?
Many users, and I suspect this is a pretty big percentage of the total, create a profile and rarely interact with the site other than to accept an invitation to join the network of another user. While you may use it as an occasional job board, LinkedIn is social media with its own set of tools, similar to Facebook. If you increase your interactions on LinkedIn, you're sure to see your influence grow on the site, which can benefit your career. Here's how to get started.
Give your LinkedIn profile a hard look. Is it current? Do you have a recent photograph that shows your face? Are your contacts up to date? LinkedIn makes it easy to import your contacts when you set up your profile, and you can follow the same procedure to update them. Click the silhouette in the top righthand corner and choose an email account. LinkedIn will generate a list of contacts for your approval and then send invitations to each of them. (Once you reach 501, the site displays 500+, unlike with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter where followers can reach the millions.
You will receive a notification when a contact accepts your invitation. If you've sent 100 or more invitations, you may want to turn these alerts off. To do this, move your cursor over your photo in the top right of your homepage and select Privacy & Settings. (Alternately, you may go to www.linkedin.com/settings/.) Navigate to Communication and click the "Set the frequency of emails" link to modify your alerts.
Tips for job hunters: You may use the settings page to turn off LinkedIn's notifications sent to those in your network when you change your profile, make recommendations or follow companies. You can also opt to anonymously view profiles; otherwise users will see you viewed them.
3 quick ways to interact
1. In 2012, LinkedIn launched one-click endorsements, which allow you to endorse a network member's particular skills. When you make an endorsement, the member receives a notification, which can be accepted and then added to his or her profile. In addition to generating a little gratitude, you're likely to receive reciprocal endorsements.
To begin endorsing members, use the dropdown list under Network at the top of your profile page. Select contacts and then click on a contact name. Scroll down to Skills & Expertise and click on the plus sign displayed next to each skill you'd like to endorse.
2. LinkedIn also has a news feed in which members can add articles from across the Internet (at least from those sites with a LinkedIn sharing button) and reshare stories found on LinkedIn. Be selective about what you share. Add a sentence or two about what you found interesting. In this way, you can become known as a source for useful information within your network and beyond.
3. You can also join groups composed of people with whom you share professional and personal interests. For instance, an accountant who is an avid skier could join a locally based ski group on LinkedIn, which could result in new ski buddies, as well as new clients. Use the Interest tab at the top of your profile page to find groups. Don't be a lurker -- a person who joins a group, but never participates. Instead, keep tabs on your groups and add your own comments to discussion threads.
Just 10 minutes a month
For most people, allocating about 10 minutes a month to LinkedIn will be enough to increase their influence. In those few moments, you can respond to requests, import new email contacts and send invitations to connect, endorse at least five members and share an interesting article.
Leslie Meredith has been writing about and reviewing personal technology for the past six years. She has designed and manages several international websites. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at email@example.com.