Maximize LinkedIn? Don’t Treat It Like Facebook

When LinkedIn appeared on the scene, it was often referred to as “Facebook for grownups.” Over time, that’s been both boon and bane for the service.

Used properly, LinkedIn can be an outstanding way to network within your own profession as well as with outside vendors and other business partners. It’s a good way to keep tabs on former coworkers, for example, that you may wish to work with again at some point. It also offers the opportunity to join groups and get in on discussions that affect how you do your job, and what trends are coming down the line for your industry.

Like Facebook, it’s all about relationships. And while there’s no one on LinkedIn asking you to send them a pig, take out a criminal overlord or give them a hint for final Jeopardy (yet), there are ways to be just as annoying.

First and foremost, don’t use a conversation thread in a group to hawk your services. I was recently engaged in a conversation about a specific copy-editing issue, and suddenly there was a post letting all of us wordsmith types know that we could get custom-screened t-shirts just in time for the holidays! The grammarians were not amused.

Secondly, post news about what you’re up to. That said, remember that you’re presenting your professional self here, not to mention representing your employer, so stay on topic. If you blog for your company’s website, link to it in your profile. If you see that a friend or business associate is looking for work, offer to give them a recommendation.

LinkedIn is valuable in that the more you invest, the more your return. Take the time to connect with people you know, and to join groups. But be aware that everyone’s time is valuable, so help cut down the clutter by sticking to the business at hand, and making every post count.