Where and how to spend your time online, when it comes to social media and networking platforms, is still a question that confounds many green industry members. Which platforms are worth your time and effort? If you haven’t joined up on LinkedIn yet, either as an individual or business, you may want to give it another look.
Since 2003, when LinkedIn launched, people have been trying to figure out how to make the most of the platform — or if it was even worth it for them to use it. In the years since, we’ve seen the site evolve from a simple organic professional networking platform to an aggressive paid recruiting tool and content publisher. Unlike most social media platforms, LinkedIn isn’t intended to be a place to make friends. However, just like most social media platforms, content has become what makes you or breaks you on LinkedIn.
When it comes to content, the rules aren’t different than for social media platforms; content needs to be interesting, inspiring and intentional. It’s the context that differs. What you publish or share on LinkedIn needs to be relevant to who you are as a professional individual or a company, and relevant to your professional (not personal) connections. I check in on LinkedIn about once per day, to read updates about new research going on in the green industry, unique projects, products or services companies are working on and offering, and who’s hiring for what positions. This type of content helps keep me up to speed on what’s pushing the industry curve, and help individuals make potential job connections.
With my own profile, I find it beneficial to share content such as industry columns I write (like this one), programs I’m giving, books I’m publishing or industry projects I’m working on. I also — and very importantly — use content I share and publish on LinkedIn to support other green industry companies and publishers I work with, to help drive traffic to their websites. LinkedIn offers up an excellent space for professional backscratching.
As recruiting has become increasingly difficult, LinkedIn has continued to up its offerings to companies and recruiters. Although the platform clearly has some work to do on its algorithms — a few weeks ago it told me I was a great fit for new available federal Border Control Agent positions — job seekers can benefit significantly from the search matches and exposure to hiring agents.
If you do the hiring for your company, LinkedIn is fertile ground for vetting prospective hires and identifying red flags. It’s also a great way to leverage the contacts of your existing employees and spread the word about open positions. For most of us the paid recruiting tools probably aren’t worth the cost — but if you’re a very large company with hefty mid- to upper-level hiring needs, paid memberships ease your workload. Companies can benefit from posting relevant content, at least once per week, to make themselves more attractive to prospective job seekers.
As an individual, how can you make the most of a LinkedIn profile? Spend your time on LinkedIn fleshing out and fine-tuning your public profile. Be thoughtful about the description you write about yourself and make sure to include all relevant professional experience, special credentials and achievements. This is your digital dynamic resume and everyone on LinkedIn can see it. Often, if time is of the essence, I’ll ask someone to send me the link to their LinkedIn profile before a resume. Countless times I’ve sent links to individual profiles to companies who are looking for the right fit. If you haven’t bothered to treat your profile like a professional resume and keep it updated, who knows what it could cost you.
If you have a personal LinkedIn profile, and you don’t have a photo attached to your account, fix that immediately. Frankly, when a user without a photo asks to connect with me, I usually assume they’re not on LinkedIn for professional reasons and decline the invitation.
What LinkedIn is not
Not to be harsh, but I don’t want to see pictures of your kids on LinkedIn, read your personal religious or political proclamations, hear about relationship or family problems, see your vacation pics or the like. Even if you are what I consider to be a legitimate professional connection, if you post such material regularly, I’m going to disconnect you. If I wanted to see that type of content from you on a personal level, I’d connect with you on my personal Facebook page or the like. Using LinkedIn like a personal social media platform can make you look immature and unprofessional. It can also derail potential business opportunities.
Hey ladies, how many of you get hit up on LinkedIn by men clearly looking to make a “romantic” connection? Gentleman, have you been hit up by women as well? Newsflash: LinkedIn is not a dating site. Enough already. Test me on that one and you’ll get a response from me that just might melt your eyeballs right out of your skull. I’m here to work.
To boil down the main benefit of LinkedIn, I’d say it’s brand exposure. That goes for individuals and companies alike. We all have a brand, and we all need to control how we present it publicly. Make LinkedIn worth your time by putting your best professional foot forward and backing up your brand with polished professional content.