LinkedIn is currently growing at a rate of two new members per second. It's a powerful and increasingly populated platform for professionals. But how can you make the most of it?
On Friday, Executive Women Australia hosted an event with Tara Commerford, the head of communications for LinkedIn Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific, where she shared the secrets to LinkedIn success. Below are five of her tips for making the most of the network.
1. Manage your executive brand
We all use Google to find out more about prospective contacts and the corollary of that is we are potentially being searched too. Commerford says the trick in managing your executive brand online is to ensure you are presenting the best possible image of yourself. "If you have a complete LinkedIn profile it supersedes everything else on the internet," she says. "It's very powerful."
Ensure your profile is up to date and, most importantly, use a good quality photo. Commerford says having a professional profile picture means you are 14 times more likely to be viewed.
2. Context is key
Commerford says there are two distinct mindsets people employ when online; spending time versus investing time. "We have looked at how professionals spend time on the internet," she says. "In personal spaces the emphasis is on entertainment, friends and interests, but on professional networks the emphasis is on investing, not spending, their time."
She says it's worth remembering how influential – for better or worse – your online brand is. "Seventy per cent of employers have rejected a candidate based on something they found online and 80% of hiring managers say a positive online profile influences them," Commerford says.
3. Grow your network thoughtfully
How many connections should you have? Commerford says the rule is quality over quantity. "Connect with people who matter," she says. "Be thoughtful about your connections - who and why are you building connections with?"
If there is a person you want to connect with, who is connected with one of your existing contacts, ask them for an introduction. It improves the chance of a constructive relationship being established. If you manage to secure a meeting with a new connection, use the available information to ensure your meeting is as successful as possible.
"Get to know their background online so your time face-to-face time is more valuable," Commerford says. "You can get to the chase far more quickly."
4. Become a leading voice in your industry
Sharing articles, tips and even presentations via your profile will demonstrate your thought leadership and help build your professional brand. "Every professional can now do long form publishing on LinkedIn and it's valuable because that content becomes searchable."
This particular aspect of social media in establishing your niche and demonstrating your expertise is vital for every executive.
5. Demonstrate adaptability: don't get stuck in a comfort zone
In this market Commerford says our ability to adapt is critical to career success. "Some estimate that poor talent alignment costs Australian companies as much as $3.8 billion in lost productivity a year," she says.
To avoid this fate and ensure you keep your skills updated and relevant, Commerford encourages you to think about these three questions regularly: "Are you able to adapt to change? Are you adding and refining your skills? How can you stay on top of the market?"
Thinking about your career in that light will keep you focused on continual growth and development.
This story first appeared on Women's Agenda.