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Three Ways to Use LinkedIn as a Tool for Career Development

Posted                                  | 0 Comment(s)                       |  by Russ Knight

Hopefully, you are past the thought that LinkedIn is simply a tool for finding another job.  LinkedIn is a multi-faceted tool that makes a Swiss Army knife look like a rock in comparison.LinkedIn

Approaching LinkedIn as a learning platform helps advance your skills and your career while educating others and participating in ongoing conversations.  LinkedIn has lots of parts and pieces.  Here are three areas that can help you develop your career.

1.  YOUR NETWORK:  Post good articles, events, industry resources and project them out to your network.   Adding value here makes you a more valuable connection to your network.  Your employer likely will appreciate that you are raising your profile in your network which will in turn increase the visibility of your company.  It’s the “Everyone is in sales” mentality.

Within your network, whose career stands out as a career role model? What skills and areas of expertise do they possess and how does that compare with your current skills and expertise? What steps can you take to acquire what might be missing in your toolkit? Connect with individuals you admire in your industry or profession. Talk with them about their career and how they achieved their successes! Turn admirable connections in to mentors!

2.  GROUPS: Groups are an area where you can engage with a group of people all interested in the same topic(s).  Consider joining groups based on industry, discipline, geography, school or company alumni and more.  With a basic LinkedIn account you can be in about 50 groups.  Pick a few groups and make a point to be regularly involved.  You can learn a lot about your industry or profession through groups focused in that area. Become a thought leader by adding insightful commentary.  See if you can be a top influencer this week in a key industry group.

If you can’t find a group for your industry / discipline or one that is specific enough, consider starting a group.  (It never hurts to be the hub for information sharing!)  Connect with those who are experts in your field and/or those who write great content.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn groups can be like public restrooms:  without regular maintenance they can become gross.  Have you seen those groups full of self-promotion or blog posts that choke out any other conversation and interaction?  Vote with your feet – leave crummy groups; join and participate in well moderated ones.

3.  ANSWERS:  This is an under-used corner of LinkedIn.  (Gold star if you know where it is.)  See that “More” tab at the top of the page on the right?  It’s under there.

Answers is an area where you can build and share your expertise!  Here you can ask questions and gather responses or answer questions to demonstrate your knowledge in topic areas. The “questioner” picks the best answer (from their perspective) and the “respondent” earns points toward expertise.   When answering questions, start with one or two at first and be sure to give a meaningful, thoughtful answer.

When asking questions, be aware that “answer trolls” exist! These are individuals who just throw up so many answers every day they are bound to have someone say theirs was the best answer.  Please don’t be an “answer troll.”  There’s no sense in giving the same answer that someone else gave and this will not help you advance your career, right?  Project that you know your stuff.  Offer insight and perspective.

This section and groups are great tools for collaboration.  Consider this scenario:  As a professional in the healthcare industry, you have learned something about the new healthcare  regulations or you have a specific question about your community hospital and how it will be affected.  Ask or answer!  Then pay attention to who else engages in the conversation.  Connect with them and perhaps an ongoing collaborative relationship will develop.

As you can see, using LinkedIn isn’t about vanity.  It’s an investment and a resourceful tool in your career development!

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