Most people see LinkedIn as a robust, fully featured professional networking site that allows you to connect with colleagues and other professionals and expand your career.
They have no idea how robust it really is.
While LinkedIn’s basic features are probably well-known to anybody who’s built a profile on the site – the ability to list your work experience, find contacts you know and add them as connections, search for additional connections through their connections, etc. – you may not be aware of some of the more advanced site features available even to those with a free membership. Once you throw in the premium member features, free applications, and LinkedIn tools, you find yourself with a site that makes you wonder if you even need a presence anywhere else on the Internet (but since many of its applications and tools are integrated with blogs, Twitter, and other user accounts across the Web, the answer is yes – you do need a presence elsewhere, as well).
Let’s get started, then, by looking at some of the more advanced profile features. And remember, LinkedIn is always rolling out new ideas and beta features, so be sure to check the “New Features” section of the LinkedIn blog to learn more about how the professional networking site can work for you.
To add any of these features, simply go to “Edit Profile” from the top menu on LinkedIn’s home page (under “Profile), then click on “Add sections” to see a total list of the profile sections. These new sections include:
- Publications: Add your published work to your profile
- Languages: If you speak multiple languages, you can indicate that expertise with the languages section, showing your level of proficiency – especially useful to producers working in diverse or multicultural markets
- Skills: List your skills, areas of expertise, and proficiencies on your profile with the skills section
- Certifications: List the certifications, licensure, and clearances you have attained
- Patents: Show off your inventions with the patents section, which lets you list both granted and pending patents
LinkedIn also has several site features that are well-established on the site, but which even regular users may be aware of.
Find companies that are of interest to you and follow them to receive updates on company news, new hires, and more. This can be especially useful for companies you service with insurance products, allowing you to stay updated right on LinkedIn. There are three ways to follow a company: From any member’s LinkedIn profile (mouse-over any of the companies listed and click the “Follow Company” icon from the hover bar that pops up); from the company’s profile; or from the company profiles homepage, by clicking on “More” on the LinkedIn homepage top menu.
One of the best ways to leverage your social network is by giving and receiving recommendations. This is all under “Profile” on the top menu; click on “Recommendations.” From this page, you can manage recommendations you’ve already received, see recommendations you’ve sent and recommend others, and request recommendations from your connections. Remember: Don’t just blindly send a recommendation request. Try recommending somebody first – often, they’ll return the favor. Or, make it more personal by giving them a call or shooting them an email requesting the recommendation yourself, and ask if they’d mind.
Gain recognition as an expert in your field by answering questions here, or find answers to your own quandaries by posing them to your network. To get started, visit the Answers page under “more” in the top toolbar. Type in your question and click “Next.”
- Indicate whether you want to share the question only with connections you select
- Be able to add details that will help connections and experts answer your question
- Be asked to categorize your question by an industry and subindustry
- Be able to select whether your question is focused around a specific geographical location
- Check whether your question is related to recruiting, promoting your services, or job seeking.
Once your question is posted, you have the option of emailing up to 200 of your connections.
Want to answer a question? New questions from your network are displayed right on the Answers page, as well as each week’s top experts, ranked by the number of answers given each week.
Profile as resume
Use your profile page as a printed CV. To print your profile page as a PDF, click “Profile” from the homepage, and look on the righthand side. You’ll see a little PDF icon – click on it, and you’ll have a PDF version of your profile, minus your groups information.
Other features include…