(This article appeared previously on AOLJobs.com.)
LinkedIn is one of the most innovative career tools in the last 50 years and one of the fastest growing social media platforms in the world. However, while you might have a LinkedIn profile, odds are you aren't truly maximizing the power of this vital social network.
Here are 13 ways to spend more time on LinkedIn for the best career results:
1. Complete your LinkedIn profile. Only 50.5 percent of users have 'complete profiles' as defined by LinkedIn. That's right. Only one out of two users have set up their profiles properly.
(MORE: Top 5 LinkedIn Mistakes)
That means, half of LinkedIn's users aren't getting the results they would like (such as calls from recruiters about job opportunities), because they haven't taken the time to understand what should be on their profile.
2. Join professional groups on LinkedIn. The majority of LinkedIn users are in 10 or more groups. Roughly 10 percent of users are a member of the maximum 50 groups.
When you are in LinkedIn groups, you can access peers who are part of your industry, skill set or geographic area. Groups make networking so much easier than having to start a conversation with a total stranger.
3. Make LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn adds two new members per second. With so many people joining, it's only a matter of time before the professionals you most want to connect with have profiles, letting you can make new career connections all over the world.
(MORE: How to Ask for a LinkedIn Introduction)
4. Choose your words carefully. The most used adjective in LinkedIn profiles in 2013 was "responsible." Knowing what words to avoid on your LinkedIn profile can help you avoid looking like everyone else. Plus, studies show that overused subjective words in your profile are a total turnoff to recruiters.
5. Time your updates. Only 8 percent of Americans use LinkedIn during work hours. Studies show that most LinkedIn users hop on early in the morning (between 8 and 10 am) and later at night (5 to 8 pm). Following those patterns with your updates can help you attract maximum attention to your profile, helping you earn the respect and trust of your connections.
6. Use LinkedIn endorsements to increase your visibility. LinkedIn has facilitated more than 1 billion endorsements among members. Endorsements help LinkedIn decide who shows up in the top of search results within its platform. The more LinkedIn endorsements you have for a particular skill set, the more views your profile will get.
7. Network before you need a job. There are 100 million LinkedIn users in the U.S. That's a lot of professionals you could be connecting with. Remember, every job is temporary. Starting to build your network after you lose the job is poor planning.
8. Go global. Worldwide LinkedIn has 300 million users. Making connections in other parts of the world can expand your knowledge and cultural awareness.
9. Be present. While 48 percent of users spend fewer than two hours on LinkedIn per week, that's still enough to be worth your time and gives you an opportunity to connect with those in our space who could enrich your network.
10. Connect to companies on their favored platform. LinkedIn is now responsible for a staggering 64 percent of all visits from social media channels to corporate websites. In contrast, Facebook accounts for 17 percent of such visits, while Twitter is just 14 percent.
Businesses are realizing the huge potential LinkedIn has to drive consumers and potential hires to their sites. Not understanding how LinkedIn will play a future role in your company's success is short-sighted.
11. Understand how different types of people use LinkedIn. Top level executives primarily use LinkedIn for industry networking (22 percent) and promoting their businesses (20 percent). Middle-management professionals primarily use LinkedIn to keep in touch with other people (24 percent) and industry networking (20 percent). Entry-level employees primarily use LinkedIn for job searches (24 percent) and co-worker networking (23 percent).
Understanding how people at different levels in their career are using LinkedIn can help you manage your own efforts better. From designing your LinkedIn profile, to reaching out and asking strangers to connect, it's important to realize how others are using LinkedIn and leverage that knowledge to your advantage.
12. Build your network. More than 40 percent of people now report 500+ connections, up from 30 percent in 2013. A full 15 percent now have more than 1,000 LinkedIn connections, nearly double last year's 8 percent.
Thinking about the theory of “six degrees of separation,” it's only a matter of time before you can connect with anyone you want, but only if you have developed your network to a size where you can tap into the power of second- and third-level connections.
13. Join the conversation. Posting individual status updates as a favorite feature rose 10 percent to 39 percent this year according to Forbes. LinkedIn users are contributing more via long and short posts, comments, etc. This helps you to better understand each professional.
You are what you contribute. Joining in the conversation gives you the chance to deepen your connections.
Like it or not, social media has taken overcareer development. So you must engage in tools like LinkedIn to stay employable and reach your professional goals. Better to invest time each week now then to be viewed as someone who is out-of-touch.
P.S.: For those in need of one-on-one help with their LinkedIn profile, I invite you to try my LinkedIn + Level+UP program.
J.T. O'Donnell is a career and workplace expert who founded the top-ranked career advice site, CAREEREALISM.com. In 2009, she launched CareerHMO, the first on-line career care membership site which specializes in curing chronic career pain.
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