LinkedIn is a powerful platform for professionals – far more complex and valuable than just a résumé posting site.
On the surface, yes, LinkedIn does just look like an online resume tool. What lies beneath your profile, though, is a massive network of groups and companies to join and follow. Each move you make on LinkedIn is attached to your profile, essentially building a portfolio of information surrounding your name. So, how do you spread your knowledge through a seemingly static site?
LinkedIn rules allow you to join up to 50 groups with which you can interact. We recommend maxing out your groups but being an active participant in at least 10. You can either let LinkedIn suggest groups for you based on the information it automatically pulls from your profile or you can search based on your interests in the search bar.
Large groups as well as small groups have their benefits and drawbacks. Large groups may cause you to "get lost in the sauce" and tend to lead to low level of engagement. Small groups, though very targeted, may not have enough traffic for your discussion topics or engagement to gain any traction. The key is to join those with the greatest relevance to you and what you have to offer.
However, your groups don't have to be exclusively focused on your profession. After all, from 5 P.M. to 8 A.M., you belong to your family and friends. When you step back and look at the groups you follow, they should reflect your interests as a whole person.
What's involved in participating?
LinkedIn is truly a 3-tier participation platform. Commenting, posting your own discussion threads and group management. The greatest amount of direct engagement in which you can participate is commenting. Leaving your personal stamp on different topics within a group is an excellent way to provoke thoughts and encourage others to discuss.
Posting an article as a group discussion is as easy as hitting the LinkedIn publishing button found on most sites that have content worth sharing. Once you're in the sharing window, select the Post to group(s) option.
Sometimes we move too fast and forget to notice the small nuances that present themselves as opportunities. The best way to show your commitment to engagement is to come back to your discussion topic to continue the conversation with whomever is engaging. Without providing feedback, you could be seen as an absentminded auto-poster.
As a LinkedIn group manager, you're responsible for the general conduct and direction of the group. Much of the involvement on this level is overseeing conversations, deleting SPAM, and as participating. Don't build a reputation of a fly-by-night group manager.
What does all of this culminate in?
When you become an active LinkedIn group participant, you're viewed as knowledgeable and interested in continuous education. Your profile can be highlighted and rewarded for positive participation and others will appreciate your willingness to offer help and foster discussions with other professionals. Building your credibility through LinkedIn is not a trying task and you don't have to change much from what you probably already do on a daily basis.
So is LinkedIn just a resume tool anymore? Well, yes, you can use it for that one static option or you can make a meaningful name for yourself through discussion, interaction and connection-building. Groups on LinkedIn are where the magic happens.
Need help with the basics? Check out our Complete Guide to LinkedIn Groups for pointers on getting started.