LinkedIn, How to Use LinkedIn Properly

For the five or so years that I’ve been using LinkedIn as a strategic tool in my business, I’ve read or heard many different points of view regarding the “proper” way to use LinkedIn.  I don’t think there is one proper way to use LinkedIn. I believe there are many different approaches to leveraging the power of LinkedIn. 
You simply have to choose an approach stick with it.

How I Got Started With LinkedIn
I sat down and studied LinkedIn this same week, the week between Christmas and New Years back in 2005.  At that time, I came to the conclusion that LinkedIn was built on three basic pillars.

  • The content one can build into their personal profile
  • Building a network
  • The recommendation or endorsement component

In 2005, I remember clicking on every hyperlink LinkedIn had within it at the time just to figure out what the different features were all about.  LinkedIn has of course expanded and there is much more to click on in 2009 but I’m sticking to the conclusions I came to back in 2005.

Build a Compelling and Keyword Loaded LinkedIn Profile
As a recruiter specialized in information security, physical security, corporate security, electronic security and converged security recruiting as well as various compliance and risk management topics, it seemed to me that the more people I could attract to my network in general, the better my odds would be of finding security skilled professionals to call on and to build relationships with.  This theory was correct in 2005 and it is still correct in 2009. 

I set out to build my profile in the same Search Engine Optimized way that we built and continue to build SecurityRecruiter.com.  My LinkedIn profile is found every day by security job seekers as well as by employers who are looking for a security recruiter to conduct a highly specialized executive security job search for their company.

So in my case, I have two different audiences who seek out and view my profile.  There are employers who need security talent and there are security professionals who need employers.

Build a Network
I listened to those whose approach to using LinkedIn was and is to keep their network tight.  This school of thought generally suggests that connections should only be made with individuals one already knows, trusts and respects.  While I respect this approach, this was and is not my approach to leveraging the power of LinkedIn. 

Back in 2005, at the end of my analysis, I determined that if LinkedIn would be of any value to me as a highly specialized security recruiter, I would have to build a network.  While the core of my network is made up of security skilled professionals and is likely the worlds largest gathering of security professionals in an electronic forum, my network also leads me to the hiring officials who might have a need to hire one of the security professionals I can recruit through my network. 

The significant groups of security professionals who make up the core of my LinkedIn network serve as the prospects we are now able to call on when new security recruiting assignments land on our desks.

Get Endorsements / Recommendations
You might be wondering how to get endorsements or recommendations when others have to write endorsements for you.  I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this topic back in 2005.  My theory was that if I proactively wrote endorsements for others, some of the people I chose to endorse might choose to endorse me.  My theory was correct. 

Though I don’t have a way to measure the value of endorsements, endorsements enable visitors to my LinkedIn profile to determine what others who have worked with me think of me and my work rather than simply taking my word for it.  It is even more powerful when the security professionals who visit my profile know the security professionals who have written endorsements on my profile.

Employers and security job seekers have reached out to me over the past 5 years as a direct result of reading my LinkedIn profile, reading the LinkedIn endorsements I’m fortunate to have and then following the trail back to SecurityRecruiter.com where our services and accomplishments are explained in a manner of our choosing without boundaries created by the boxes one has to write in within LinkedIn.

Connect Your Blog
The Security Recruiter Blog was not in existence in 2005.  We created our blog before LinkedIn offered a feature that enables the Security Recruiter Blog to show on my LinkedIn profile.  When I saw this feature pop up, it didn’t take long to figure out how to get more visibility to the Security Recruiter Blog. 

In Summary
The dice I rolled back in 2005, to put a significant amount of energy into building a LinkedIn presence has absolutely been a gamble that has paid off and continues to pay off.  I started out with a strategy for utilizing LinkedIn back in 2005. If you’re going to use a business network such as LinkedIn, I suggest that you first build a strategy. 

Begin with the end in mind so that you know why you’re building a LinkedIn network and you what you’re trying to accomplish by having a LinkedIn presence. 

Your LinkedIn motivations will likely be different than a security recruiter’s motivations.  That’s okay with me.