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You’ve probably noticed LinkedIn is in continuous flux, with tweaks to the interface and new features rolling out fairly regularly – often with little to no warning. To make thing even more complex, rollouts occur in waves so one user might have a new feature while the other is left waiting. For job seekers and for those who value protecting their professional brand, there are four new features I recommend becoming familiar with that by now should appear on the desktops of all users:

 

1. New Setting Protects Your Profile from Plagiarism

The word “networking” conjures up negative images in my mind. It appears as if one is reaching out to others with purely selfish motives and with the sole objective of “taking” and not “giving”. Many people feel similarly – hence, the attempt to neutralize it by introducing synonyms such as “relationship building” or “connecting” without a real attempt to address the emotions/motives underneath the effort!

You wouldn’t embark on a cross-country road trip without the tools you need to reach your destination, would you? Maybe some maps, but definitely a good GPS system these days. While not infallible, GPS is nearly always helpful.

The same holds true for the tools you need to use in your high-level job search—loosely defined as VP and above. They must be as strong as possible, and you need to use them as wisely and effectively as possible. Like a GPS, though, they might not be perfect.

Which brings us to LinkedIn as a tool for your job search.

It is no secret that executives have hectic schedules and are often left with little or no time to allocate for social networking, both online or in person. But could a half-hearted approach to LinkedIn actually be harming your reputation, your brand, your organization and your future?

Here’s four reasons why it might be time to reprioritize and find time for LinkedIn:

 

In an increasingly digital world, most of us have ended up owning and taking up rent-free digital real estate on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter et al. And queries from users range from the basics (how do I set up my profile well) to the advanced (how do I maximize my ROI)! In this context, a compendium of suggestions I share from time to time with folks who reach out to me is as given below:

 

Do not spam: The sheer number of invites I get from strangers, followed by an immediate request for help, is rather huge. People have become rather unabashed. This is certainly NOT recommended. The key is to be subtle, not over-the-top.

Executives who want to move to a new geographical area sometimes complain that they don’t have any good contacts in the targeted area. They assume, therefore, that they don’t have a strong launch-pad for their job search and post-job-search career progress. 

Today’s generation is fortunate enough to have the power to leverage social media sites such as LinkedIn. Just imagine having to look up someone you were about to meet for an important business meeting in the absence of any database…which was the scenario a decade ago!

An impactful highly-optimized LinkedIn profile can be the gateway to new networking and executive job opportunities. But what will make you stand out among the other 450 million profiles?

It can be a challenge for many senior level executives to muster the time and energy needed for building and maintaining their professional network. But without a robust network, executives put their careers at great risk by neglecting this vital aspect of career contingency planning. Executives hoping to safeguard their careers and improve their career trajectory must have a network in place before they come to rely on it for finding their next role. Like the Chinese proverb dictates, you must dig the well before you are thirsty, and executive networking is no exception. 

For successful executives, leaders and entrepreneurs alike, there’s never a point in your career where networking is done. Just because you feel you’ve reached the top or don’t have time for it, networking—especially “offline”—is tremendously profitable in attracting new opportunities, ideas and talent.

While digital networking is important, with 80 percent of global CEOs engaging socially on LinkedIn, it will never replace going out and actually cultivating and building your network.