What’s in it for me? (WIIFM) may be the single most important question for PR professionals. In order to engage any audience we may be trying to reach we have to show them what exactly is in it for them. So what about networking sites? We are their audiences. As professionals, LinkedIn is targeting us. But what are the real benefits, why do we use it, and how can we utilize this resource most effectively?
Lets start with the benefits. According to Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals by CIPR, “LinkedIn sells itself as a platform to connect/reconnect, boost your career and find answers; simple really – just an extension of our offline networks,” (p. 79). LinkedIn allows users to have a profile with a custom URL that is set-up to appear higher in web searches. If you google yourself, chances are your LinkedIn profile will appear near the top of the results, at least that’s how it’s designed to work. If it’s easy to find your professional profile on the internet, employers can find out all they need to know with a few clicks and keystrokes. Being easily found puts you at an advantage over those who aren’t. I would consider that a major benefit. LinkedIn is also the largest professional networking site. The benefit of this is that LinkedIn allows business professionals to be a part of and connect with a plethora of niche groups based on, “…school, university, employer, shared skills, professional bodies, shared interests, local business networks and so on,” (CIPR, p.81). It a place for you to create a professional presence, connect with others like you, showcase personal achievements, participate in discussions, and manage a personal professional brand online.
Why do we use LinkedIn? If the benefits listed above aren’t enough of a reason to use LinkedIn then consider that, “…75% of US companies will always or sometimes check out a prospective employee’s online profile,” (CIPR, p. 81). Everyone leaves a footprint on the internet. What we post stays with us no matter what. LinkedIn allows us an easy way to prevent the best sides of ourselves in the most professional manner, not to mention it’s probably the fastest way to connect with and get your resume to potential employers.
How can we utilize this resource most effectively?
1. Use a professional headshot! I cannot emphasize this enough. This headshot may be the first image a potential employer will see of you. Do you really want your future boss to see a low quality webcam photo with your messy room in the background or a photo of you at a party over a clean and professional headshot that presents you in the best way possible? I didn’t think so. A bad headshot can deter a potential employer from even looking at the rest of your profile despite what skills you may have listed below. With a bad photo they may not even get to the important parts.
2. Check for spelling and grammatical errors! Writing is an essential part of public relations. We have to be great speakers and great writers. If there are spelling and grammatical errors on your profile it will be a major turn-off to potential employers (Fee, What Every College Student…). You can’t claim to have writing skills on your profile if it is riddled with errors.
3. Join discussions in LinkedIn groups. Don’t simply link to relevant content. Make sure to also, “…ask questions or pose a discussion topic,” (Gerber, 9 Pro Tips for…). Being engaged and active in groups will show an interest and that you care. Not to mention you can learn a lot from others who participate in discussions.
4. “Update your status on LinkedIn rather than Facebook,” (Gerber, 9 Pro Tips for…). LinkedIn isn’t just a resume site. It is a networking site. It is meant to connect us with others but in order to connect we must interact. Users “…receive higher quality visitors to [their] website[s] from a status update on LinkedIn than from other social networks…” because the audience of users is different. You are reaching a different group of people through LinkedIn. You are reaching professionals with an interest in your field. Utilize the social networking aspects of LinkedIn as often as you can in order to reach other professionals.
CIPR. Share this: the social media handbook for PR professionals. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.
Fee, Jess. “What Every College Student Should Post on LinkedIn.” Mashable. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2013. <http://mashable.com/2013/08/12/linkedin-college-students/>.
Gerber, Scott. “9 Pro Tips for Entrepreneurs on LinkedIn.” Mashable. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Oct. 2013. <http://mashable.com/2013/08/05/how-entrepreneurs-use-linkedin/>.