LinkedIn is an undervalued social network.
Where Facebook has more than 500 million users worldwide, LinkedIn has less than 100 million users. Granted, Facebook appeals to (almost) everyone and LinkedIn is specifically for professionals. Still, basic logic tells me that more than 100 million professionals exist worldwide.
What’s more, I still hear how many people refer to LinkedIn: “It’s the website you sign up for when you need to find a new job.”
Yes, it’s that website. But LinkedIn can also help you thrive at your current job. Here are five ways LinkedIn can help you right now.
Improve your personal search results
Your LinkedIn profile is already optimized to appear in search engines. This means that when someone Googles your name, your LinkedIn profile will be one of the first results that shows up. I Googled my own name and found that my LinkedIn profile appeared on Google before my bio page on 435Digital.com.
Amy Ravit Korin, the owner of InteractiveAmy.com LLC, agrees about LinkedIn’s SEO strength.
“There’s no such thing as a blind date or a blind meeting–people are going to Google you before you get together,” Kronin says. “That’s why you want to have it all ‘together’ yourself online. LinkedIn is the perfect place to start doing that from a professional perspective.”
LinkedIn is also a great alternative if you are not publicly listed on your company’s website or if your company does not even have a website. You want a prospective client to be able to easily find you online. If he can’t, he might go with the competitor who was easy to find online.
Share your accomplishments with your colleagues
Ideally, your boss will be your biggest champion and share your accomplishments with your colleagues. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. If that’s your situation, you’ll need to toot your own horn and remind your colleagues of the special value that you bring to the company.
Of course, modesty is key and that’s where LinkedIn can work wonders. It’s a neutral platform that focuses on the facts and also lets others write recommendations about you. If a happy client wants to thank you for a job well done, ask if she’ll post a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. I gurantee that your colleagues will notice.
On the flip side of the coin, having a LinkedIn profile that your colleagues can see will keep you honest.
“If you talk about how wonderful you are on LinkedIn, then what happens when you walk into a meeting and just sit there?” asks Jason Seidan, co-founder of Ajax Social Media and the first trainer to be certified by LinkedIn itself. “You set yourself up to be screwed. You create inconsistencies between what you’re doing and the message you’re sending.”
Let your business contacts find you easily
Business cards are great, but they are easy to lose and can quickly become outdated. Think of LinkedIn as your virtual business card. If someone you’ve previously met needs to contact you, he may not still have your business card or you may have switched positions. Yet if you have a completed LinkedIn profile, he should be able to quickly find you.
Also, when you do switch jobs, you won’t need to email all of your business contacts to tell them the news. You can simply update your LinkedIn profile and they’ll know where to find you next. (Of course, it’s still a good idea to email your closest contacts and tell them the news personally).
Turn social contacts into professional contacts
LinkedIn Groups are a free feature that act as discussion boards. Anyone can create a LinkedIn Group around a specific topic or interest.
“Groups are a great way to stay abreast of the industry you work in and bridge the gap between professional and personal,” Korin says. “For example, you might meet someone socially through volunteering. Well a lot of non-profits also have groups on LinkedIn, giving you the chance to connect professionally with someone you might have met in a social setting.”
Brand yourself as a subject expert
LinkedIn Groups can also build your reputation as an expert on a specific topic. “Not too many people talk every day in a LinkedIn Group, so if you want to be the biggest voice in a group, it’s pretty easy to do,” says Barbara Rozgonyi, owner of WiredPRWorks and author of the popular blog post Top 10 Ways to Quickly Becoming a Recognized Subject Matter Expert on LinkedIn.
“Being a part of a LinkedIn Group can really enhance your real-life group as well,” Rozgonyi adds. “People will know who you are before you go to an event and your relationship is that much stronger.”