• LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking platform
  • The basic free account provides plenty of benefits
  • It’s a must-have for job opportunities and career development
It’s just way too easy.

Just open the app and take a peek at what’s going on.

All of those free mico-moments throughout your day are perfect snippets of time to scroll through Facebook, Instagram and whatever other social media that’s your main go-to time waster.

Waiting in line for your morning coffee?

See what your friends did last night.

Sitting on the toilet at work?

Scroll through the newest IG posts.

But using LinkedIn?

Not really.

It’s not something that you’d use every day like Facebook or Instagram and besides, it’s not a “fun” social media thing. It’s all about business.

How boring.

Yes, you’ve heard of LinkedIn and many of your coworkers and business colleagues have accounts, but it’s not something that you seriously considered joining or using more frequently.

Until now.

You’re kinda comfortable and set in your job. And, while it can get stressful sometimes, it’s okay and you’re getting by. But, there’s a side of you that’s curious about LinkedIn and what other opportunities are out there besides the small nook you’re working in.

So, it’s time to come out of your shell and dip your toes into the LinkedIn pool. It’s not as complex or intimidating as you think. And, there’s a lot in it for you and your career.

Let’s dive in.

Business Networking The Old Fashioned Way

(Credit: Foreign & Commonwealth via Flickr)

Before the creation of LinkedIn, or even the greater internet for that matter, all business people actually networked in real life at local events, conferences and trade shows.

We sound like old grandparents, “Back in my day, we didn’t have Google. We had to walk to the library to do our research. And, it was uphill...both ways!” 😉

Anyway, getting back to the point here - business networking was strictly an in-person thing. Shaking hands, swapping business cards and rubbing shoulders with other working professionals was the best way to grow your personal network of contacts.

And it’s this personal network that provided you with an extended reach to find job opportunities, sales leads, partnerships, support, etc.

It took a considerable amount of time and effort to build up your “Rolodex of contacts”. If you can relate to that term, you know what we’re talking about here.

The point is that it took a long time to establish a large and reliable network of business contacts where a mutually beneficial relationship was discovered, nurtured and grown.

Today, with the internet, email, messaging, web conferencing, etc., making contact and communicating happens in a flash.

But, despite all the instant communications, growing your personal network still took time and effort. However, it was far better than the pre-internet days.

Your network only really grew as far as you could reach - one direct relationship at a time.

That all changed when online business networking groups started to sprout up all over the web. They were all local or regional in nature. And they served a particular focus in specific industries and professions.

But, what if you needed to reach out to someone outside of your profession or industry?

That was a lot harder to do.

Until LinkedIn launched in 2003.

LinkedIn Changes The Game For The Better

LinkedIn is the one and only business networking site that mainly caters to white-collar working professionals. It’s the white-collar crowd’s social media platform that’s focused primarily on business.

Around 2011-ish, LinkedIn really started to hit their stride with over 30 million unique visitors per month, officially surpassing MySpace (yeah, remember that one?) for the #2 spot in social media sites.

Today, LinkedIn easily has over a half-billion (that’s with a “B” folks) registered users on its platform. They want to connect the entire world’s business from end-to-end...that’s 3 billion users worldwide. And, they’re making progress on this.

What the platform does that old fashioned networking couldn’t do is to exponentially expand your network further and faster than you could have ever done on your own. It’s called scalability.

One single contact provided you with the opportunity to connect with hundreds, even thousands, of other contacts. It took your list of less than a hundred direct contacts and could instantly blow that up to thousands of people that you could potentially develop a relationship with.

Adios, Rolodex. It’s been a good run. We found something better.

Why LinkedIn Is A Must-Have For Business Professionals

You’ve probably heard of the saying, “The right tool for the right job”.

You wouldn’t wear your dress shoes to run a marathon, right? The same goes for your social networks.

Facebook works great for staying in touch with your personal network of friends and relatives. Instagram is mainly a social photo-sharing platform. Twitter is all about text-based short message broadcasting. And the list goes on for all the other social networks.

They all have their place in our lives and serve a specific purpose. They may have a bit of overlap in some areas, but they all have their main “thing” of what they’re known for and what they do best. And, for the most part, they all deliver on it pretty well.

LinkedIn is no different. Its main focus is on connecting and supporting the business world.

It’s the right tool for the right job.

LinkedIn offers a wealth of benefits that are all catered to help working professionals in their job and career as well as businesses of all types whether they’re public or private, a main street small business or a gigantic global Fortune 500.

Let’s dive into the details with some of the bigger bennie’s.

1) Easily Updatable 24x7 Resume Billboard

There are roadside billboards everywhere and now, they even use entire sides of buildings as billboards along major highways and other public venues.

LinkedIn is the equivalent of a roadside billboard on the information superhighway. Their part of the highway gets 30 million “drivers” passing by every month.

Your professional profile and resume can be seen by millions with just a few clicks of the mouse. And, unlike the old school paper resumes, your online resume can be updated in real-time and available 24x7.

And guess what?

There’s bound to be an HR recruiter looking to fill an open position at their company and you just might be the perfect candidate. So, don’t ignore recruiters, they might just lead you to your next great opportunity.

2) Showcase All Of Your Skills, Experience and Expertise

For decades, there has been a “one-page” rule for resumes. Meaning, your resume should outline your experience and other relevant information all within one page or side, particularly if you’re early into your career. Exceptions were given for those that had 10+ years of experience and even then, it’s just two sides of a single sheet of paper.

Well, in the online world, we don’t have this limitation. You can really showcase, highlight and manage your personal brand with as much information as you want.

You can add all the details for every single job, experience, achievement and skill set that you have. Plus, you can even include multimedia content like videos, podcasts, downloadable certifications, etc. Traditional resumes could never do this.

3) Find Job Opportunities Within & Outside Of Your Industry

Remember how hard it was trying to find a friend that knows a friend who has a buddy that works at that awesome company or in the industry you’re trying to break into?

Maybe, you were trying to get your foot in the door in the advertising, fashion, automotive, sports, TV or movie industries or whatever pursuit you had in mind. And you knew that having an insider would be much better than just sending a resume cold.

Or, maybe you see the warning signs of layoffs at your company and you need to plan for job loss.

Whatever the situation may be, you didn’t have any connections to help you bridge that gap to the next new opportunity.

Well, with LinkedIn, you’ve got the ability to extend your reach further within your industry and even cross over into other industries through your network.

It’s like the game “Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon” where any actor in Hollywood can be linked to Kevin Bacon in six connections or less.

With LinkedIn, you’ve got the ability to “see” how many connections you are from your desired job, company, contact or industry.

4) Online Training & Career Resources

There’s so much online business-related training these days. It’s hard to know which courses to take and whether or not you’ll really get anything out of it.

The great thing about LinkedIn is that they curate a variety of courses from experts across many industries. Online classes can be long-form multi-session deals or a single session that last less than 30 minutes.

In fact, LinkedIn is one of the top choices for free online business courses.

Career management when you’re busy AF is nearly an impossible task. However, with LinkedIn you’re bound to find a course that will up your skills and fit into your hectic schedule. And if you don’t, just wait a few weeks because new courses get added all the time.

5) Get Support From Peers & Working Groups

When you’re having a tough time at work, the job is really grinding you down or you’re struggling with a project, having a go-to support person for help is ideal.

The best set-up is having a work BFF that you can hit up and ask for help and/or advice. But, what if you could have not just one work BFF but a whole lot more?

With LinkedIn’s working groups, you can find other peers in your industry or job role that can provide you with extra insight, tips, pointers and even some direct support. There are working groups for nearly every major industry out there.

And if that wasn’t enough, there are also alumni working groups too.

6) Build Up Your Network Of Contacts & Save It In The Cloud

Yes, business cards are still relevant and most of the working world still have, use and exchange business cards. Why? Because it’s easy and doesn’t require an app on your phone.

But what happens is that we end up with a stack of business cards on our desk all bound together by a single rubber band that’s about to snap. Or, maybe, you’re sophisticated and use a business card binder.

Either way, searching for a contact can be a real pain-in-the-ass.

There’s a better way.

Chances are pretty good that your business contacts are on LinkedIn. If you connect with them, then you’ll have their contact information along with all the others you previously connected with.

And best of all, your database of contacts is saved “in the cloud” and is easily searchable. No more lost business cards.

7) Extend Your Network Globally

Our business network used to be limited to the particular region we lived and worked in. Yes, there were probably a few contacts on the other coast but almost never any international contacts.

Today, the world has gotten a lot smaller thanks to technology. And LinkedIn’s reach is making global business connections even easier.

About 70% of LinkedIn’s members live in about 200 countries around the world. Its growing global community of members means that it’s easier than ever to make new business connections with folks in Europe, Asia, Middle East, etc.

Want to land a job in Paris, Tokyo or Bali? If you’ve got a growing network of contacts, chances are pretty good that you could make it happen.

It’s Super Easy To Get Started In 3 Steps

Setting up a preliminary profile on LinkedIn is really easy and it’ll only take about 5-10 minutes just to set up a basic profile. It can take longer if you want to add all the info details. In either case, it’s something that can be done in one coffee sipping session.

There are a ton of things you can do to really make your profile stand out, but for today, all we’re focused on is to set up a basic profile just to get started.

Once your basic profile is up and running live, then you can add all the other stuff to update your profile later on. So, don’t stress out with trying to get it all completed in one sitting - just get the basics.

Step #1: Get A Photo Ready

This first step takes some time, not because it’s hard, but because it’s a very personal thing. Finding a good decent photo of yourself can take some scrolling time.

Leave the selfie photos of you at the beach, party, bar, etc. on FB or Instagram. LinkedIn isn’t the place for that.

What matters most is that the photo of you is clear and decently normal - not one where you’re doing some wacky shit or with some distracting stuff in the background.

Your profile photo doesn’t need to be some professional level headshot either. It simply needs to be a clear photo of you only, wearing business-casual type clothes or business formal or whatever is appropriate and normal for your industry.

And most importantly, smiling. 🙂

TIP: If you don’t have a decent photo of yourself, grab your work BFF and ask them to take a photo of you in one of the empty conference rooms, outside the office, in the building lobby, etc. There are plenty of spots in your workplace that can be great backdrops for a professional photo.

Don’t get obsessed with getting the perfect photo of yourself. Just get a clean and clear basic one for now. You can always swap it out later on.

Once you’ve got your photo selected, save it to your desktop on your computer and go to the next step.

Step #2: Sign Up For A Free Basic LinkedIn Account

There are two types of accounts you can choose from on LinkedIn: Free and Premium. Since you’re just getting started, just sign up for the free basic version for now.

The free basic account has so much to offer and there’s a lot to absorb. So, rather than get in over your head with a premium level account, just start simple. This way, you can explore everything and see and experience all the free stuff.

Later on, maybe after a few months of using the free version, you can explore the premium option with the free 30-day trial.

To be honest, for the majority of people, like 80%, the free version is perfectly sufficient. And, you don’t need the premium version to apply for jobs on LinkedIn - that’s a big bonus.

Watch this short 1.5 minute video for the key highlights.

VIDEO: Creating a LinkedIn Account
LENGTH: 1:33
You can access the sign-up page on LinkedIn when you’re ready.

TIP: Have your current resume open and ready on your computer. It’ll make things really easy. You can just copy/paste what you already have on your current resume to your LinkedIn profile information fields.

If you don’t have a resume, you can use this LinkedIn profile set-up process as a resume-builder.

When you set up your free account and start filling things out in your profile, don’t get caught up with having every single detail of your work history written out since high school. Just write out the major things for now. You can always go back and fill in more detail later on.

The key things to pay attention to:
  • Spelling, spelling, spelling!
  • List and describe your latest job experiences (past 10 years)
  • Complete your education info
  • Save your progress every few minutes
  • Set your profile visibility

Step #3: Reach Out & Connect

Once you’ve got your basic profile set-up and live, it’s time to reach out to just two groups. And since you’ve got that awesome photo of yourself set-up, your efforts here will pay off fast because your contacts will easily recognize you.

Group #1: Find and reach out to your best friends and connect with them.

Group #2: Search for your current business contacts that you work with most frequently and request connections with them.

By doing just these two connection efforts, you can start building out your network of contacts. The LinkedIn algorithms will do their part to make other connection recommendations for you. Some will be obvious and others less so.

Don’t accept connections with random people you don’t know or every single joe-schmo out there. Only accept connections with people you know and/or have worked with.

Having a ton of connections isn’t the goal here. Leave the friend count to FB.

The main objective is quality over quantity. By building your network with people you know and/or have worked with, you’ll have a solid base to support your career growth and development.

Build Your Network, Build Your Success

We all know that hard work does lead to success. But, there are other factors that can really help out too - like our support network and connections.

You’ve heard it before, “It’s about who you know, not what you know, that counts.”

We agree that knowing the right people and having the right connections can mean all the difference in the world.

And, starting your LinkedIn profile is the first step in building your online business presence and growing your network of contacts. It’s not going to be smashing success right away.

It takes time. So, start small and simple and work your way up. We know that you’re busy AF, but you can manage your career one small task at a time.

In only just a few months, maybe even as short as a few weeks, you can start establishing a solid foundation for your future job prospects, career development and ultimately, your success.

So, if you didn’t get that promotion you wanted or you feel like quitting your job, you’ll have this resource at your fingertips to make your next move.

Don’t be a bystander, it’s time to jump into the LinkedIn pool, make meaningful connections, expand your network and have some fun.

Feel Better,

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