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Using LinkedIn as an Executive Career Progression Tool - Part One

LinkedIn is commonly used to “get to someone” in order to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job. It works well for this kind of communication because it is an online network of more than 8.5 million experienced professionals from around the world representing 130 industries. Still, as a tool for executive job hunting and career management, LinkedIn is often underutilized. Read on for the first installment of the top ten ways to increase the value of LinkedIn as part of your executive job and career development strategy.
  1. Increase your visibility

    By adding connections, you increase the likelihood that people will see your profile first when they’re searching for someone to hire or do business with. In addition to appearing at the top of search results (a major plus if you’re one of the 52,000 product managers on LinkedIn), others would much rather work with someone who their friends know and trust.
  2. Improve connections through your executive history

    Most new users put only their current company in their profile. By doing so, they severely limit their ability to connect with people. You should fill out your profile as if it is an executive bio, including past companies and positions, education, affiliations, and activities.

    You can also include a link to your profile as part of an email signature. The added benefit of a signature link is that it enables others to see all your credentials, which would be awkward – if not downright strange – as an attachment.
  3. Improve your Google PageRank

    LinkedIn allows you to make your executive position and profile information available for search engines to index. Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, this is a good way to influence what others see when they search for you.

    To do this, create a public profile and select "Full View." Also, instead of using the default URL, customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name. To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web. For example, when you comment in a blog, include a link to your profile in your signature.
  4. Enhance your search engine results

    In addition to your name and executive position, you can also promote your blog or website to search engines like Google and Yahoo! Your LinkedIn profile allows you to publicize websites. There are a few pre-selected categories like "My Website," "My Company," etc.

    If you select "Other," you can modify the name of the link. If you’re linking to your personal blog, include your name or descriptive terms in the link. You will then achieve instant search engine optimization for your site. To make this work, be sure your public profile setting is on "Full View."
  5. Perform blind, "reverse," and company reference checks

    LinkedIn has a reference check tool which allows you to input a company name and the years someone worked at a company to search for references. Your search will find the people who worked at the company during the same time period. Since references provided by a candidate during an executive job search will generally be glowing, this is a good way to get more balanced data.

    Companies will typically check your references before hiring you, but have you ever thought of checking your prospective employer’s references? Most executive job interviewees don’t have the audacity to ask the company they’re interviewing with for references, but with LinkedIn you have a way to do your own research.

    You can also check up on the company itself by finding the person who used to have the job that you’re interviewing for. Do this by searching for job title and company, but be sure to uncheck “Current titles only.” By contacting people who used to hold the position, you can get the inside scoop on the job.
Want to learn more about maximizing your personal brand and visibility online through social networking sites such as LinkedIn? BlueSteps offers an audio download of the Executive Seminar How to Build Your Personal Brand and Visibility Online, delivered by Patti Wilson, founder of careercompany.com. Rise straight to the top of Google search!

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BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.

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