Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking with a professional face – 3 making LinkedIn work for you

Posted in social networking and business by Timothy Platt on March 5, 2011

This is my third posting in a series I have been writing with a very specific client audience in mind (see Social Networking and Business, postings 106 and 108 for parts one and two, with Part 2 focusing on Facebook.)

My intent in this series, as already stated in earlier installments, is to focus more on areas that are important but that are generally not covered with any detail, even when they are mentioned at all in a social networking in a career context. What follows is taken from a white paper I have submitted for use by this client, and I share it here too. You will note I do not in any way seek to exhaustively cover the details, simply noting that they can, do and will change. It is the underlying principles as to how you view and use visibility and personal privacy settings that will count for you long-term.

LinkedIn is perhaps the best known business and professional social networking site available, so anyone who seeks to business social network should set up an online profile and network through there, as part of their personal online professional marketing reach.

The content you place in your profile and your networking strategies per se are very important topics of discussion and I will delve into them in future notes. Participating on social networking groups and effectively using other tools and resources provided through sites such as LinkedIn are also very important in developing and managing a business oriented online social networking strategy and I will be delving in more detail into those topic areas as well. For this note, my focus is on visibility and personal privacy and I note that if the people you would reach out to cannot find or see you online, it does not really matter what you have added as social networking message and content.

Set up a starter account on LinkedIn, and for most people the free basic services account is quite sufficient. Add some starter content listing what you are currently doing, or looking to do and with basic information on your education and professional background. You can and undoubtedly will update and expand on this, so I am simply suggesting that you set up a starter draft profile that you can build from.

Now log into your account, and your name will appear in the upper right corner of the profile page template, as a link with a little downward pointing wedge to its right. Click there, and select “Settings” and click on that. This takes you to the screen where you will find your core visibility and personal privacy settings.

Settings per se are divided into a complex of seven higher level sub-headings as outlined below, with one key sub-heading outlined in partly expanded detail:

1. Profile settings:
• My profile – which simply shows the “edit profile” version of your profile where you can add or edit content by area (e.g. current positions held, work history, educational background, etc.)
• My profile photo – where you can upload a photo and set its visibility (e.g. my direct, first degree connections, my network with direct, second and third degree connections, or everyone.)
• Public profile. You can customize your public view networking profile URL at the top of the screen you get if you click to this, and you can also set as openly visible any or all of the checklist of content sections and areas that you submit content for, in My Profile.
• Manage recommendations – see details and options included on the site.
• Member feed visibility – see details and options included on the site.
• Twitter settings – see details and options included on the site.

2. Email notifications – see details and options included on the site.
3. Home page settings – see details and options included on the site.
4. RSS settings – see details and options included on the site.
5. Personal information – see details and options included on the site.
6. Privacy settings – see details and options included on the site.
7. My network – see details and options included on the site.

My goal here is not to exhaustively cover all options and choices you can make in setting up and managing your profile. It is to indicate that you have multiple options for determining what you want to include online, and who can see it. You want to look into all of these options areas and select choices that make sense for you, whether simply following the site defaults or customizing. This means your knowing and understanding what is and is not visible and to whom, and controlling your profile visibility proactively.

I add that allowing “everyone” to see your profile can mean making it visible to Google search, which can be of real help in marketing your skills and experience, and in positioning yourself in the jobs market.

I will write in much more detail on content issues in a future note, as indicated above, but for now and in the context of visibility and personal privacy I make a general and crucially important point.

• Only include content, whether as text or images, that you would want to show a prospective employer or customer. And include all of the details of that, that you would want to share through the general business community.

If you follow that approach, your best option is probably going be to make most if not all of your profile and its contents visible to everyone, and internet searchable. And for “my network”, check everything that may apply, sharing as wide a range of networking goals and priorities with the larger community as might be applicable to you. Be open to the unexpected and to new opportunities that you may not have already thought of.

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