Can your career survive without LinkedIn? (Earnspiration Report Issue 9)

LinkedInThe Economist recently published an article on LinkedIn (Workers of the world, log in).

Originally designed as a networking tool for entrepreneurs, LinkedIn has become the de facto standard social networking tool for professionals in many parts of the world and is now transforming into a broader worldwide recruitment portal to include the non-professional labour market.

The article got me thinking about the many ways LinkedIn can be used as a career development tool and whether professionals who don’t use the site are putting themselves at a major disadvantage?

How people use LinkedIn

The way people use LinkedIn varies. A majority will set up a basic listing, connect with current and former colleagues and simply use the site as virtual address book for all their contacts.

Other people are much more active in using the site as a personal marketing tool for building their brand and reaching out to further develop their professional network.

LinkedIn provides a range of personal marketing opportunities, such as discussion forums and the ability to publish your own articles for other members to read, and it is these tools that will help you to demonstrate your expertise and grow your network – a combination that can be perceived as a significant asset amongst employers.

Be headhunted

The way you populate your profile page is also really important, as LinkedIn generates 60% of its revenue from recruiters who use specific algorithms to trawl through profiles and find their ideal employees.

Often the searches are very specific and filter candidates by their experience, educational background and associations, so it pays to develop and maintain your profile, and not just treat it as an online CV.

Research tool

LinkedIn also has it uses as a research tool. People often use it to find out about new customers or suppliers before meeting with them, or they might tap the discussion groups for industry insight and knowledge. Those into career planning can view the profiles of more senior colleagues in their network and see the steps they took on their way up the corporate ladder.

So is LinkedIn a necessity?

With recruitment through LinkedIn set to grow in the future and the ability for recruiters to link up the right employees with the right employers, it is safe to say that you will miss out on opportunities by not having an up-to-date profile on the site.

However, the personal brand building side is more questionable. This will work for some people, but as the sheer volume of user-generated content continues to grow on LinkedIn it will become much harder to stand out and already there are problems with people using the discussion groups for blatant self-promotion, rather than trying to help and advise others.

The other issue with creating content for LinkedIn (through articles and groups) is that you effectively helping to build the social network for free (something known as ‘digital sharecropping’).

Personally I always like to think of things in terms of ‘bread & butter’ and ‘jam’.

Developing an engaging profile that will sell your talents to recruiters is the ‘bread & butter’ – this should be the core activity that you prioritise your time towards. Undertaking personal brand building activities is the ‘jam’ – something that is nice to have and will make your meal taste that much better; but if you needed to, you could live without!

Top links and resources

Every week I scour the web for new interesting and inspiring articles and videos. Here is the latest selection:

Career

How to get the job when you don’t have the experience

How to figure out if you and your career are meant to be

Leadership & management

Britain’s management problem

It takes 3 to run a business

Entrepreneurs

From teachers to totally rocking it online – Shane and Jocelyn Sams share their success story

How to start a business with a partner

Personal branding & online profile / platform

16 smarter ways to use LinkedIn to build your business

A resume website – Your key to your future success

Freelancing

Hate what you create? Don’t worry, it’s normal!

Should you turn your freelance career into a small business?

Personal development

99 sites that every professional should know about and use

25 TED Talks that will immediately change how you see the world

Business skills

The most productive people know who to ignore

Changing corporate culture is hard. Here’s how Lenovo did it

Strategy & trends

How Watson changed IBM

Amazon to pay $970 million for videogame streaming site Twitch

Marketing & media

Does infographic marketing still work? A data driven answer

8 blogging “rules” you should probably ditch

Wealth

Britain’s billionaires who never went to university

The story behind the shrinking ranks of Goldman partners

Property

Landlord fined for renting room that could only be entered on all fours

**Bonus article**

And a bonus article for all the UK readers who enjoyed this week’s bank holiday: Where the five-day workweek came from

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