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It’s a Small, Small, Kinda Creepy World, After All

But Your LinkedIn Privacy Settings Can Fix That

Here’s a quick and revealing exercise for you: Log out of LinkedIn. Now Google search your own name, and look closely at what appears in the results. (Oh come on, like you haven’t done this before.)

Here’s the fun part: Pretend to be someone, somewhere, who has the perfect job, offer or business connection for you. Now look at your public profile through their eyes for a few minutes.

Next, pretend to be a creepy internet stalker. I’m assuming that’s a big stretch for most of my readers. But do it anyway, and look at your public profile through THOSE eyes.

How do you look? If there’s anything showing there that isn’t needed or advantageous, log in and go to your LinkedIn Privacy Settings to adjust accordingly. You’ve got 3 options: You can make your entire profile and sidebar information private, or you can make them public/searchable, or you can customize them specifically for your needs. I recommend the latter for most people who are looking to increase their exposure without setting themselves up for identity theft.

There are other reasons to take a few minutes with LinkedIn’s Privacy Settings, too. As you’re going through its various options, consider the reasons for and against making each nugget of info available.

For instance, I recommend that you do not enter any personal information, like your home address and phone number – even for people you are connected with. Remember, there are 150 million viewers out there.

On the other hand, listing your business phone and company is usually a very good idea, particularly if you want people to be able to contact you easily (even if they don’t have their own LinkedIn account). Google search-ability is a big reason to keep certain elements public; if your happening’ keywords and phrases are kept public, your LinkedIn SEO will be that much more potent.

Tweets need to be carefully considered. If you’ve got a Twitter account and you use it strictly for professional purposes, by all means connect it to LinkedIn. This will let your brilliant tweets appear on your profile page, building your exposure and credibility. Your opinions about the latest political scandal? Not so much.

Some people remove public access to their Connections sidebar to stop snoopers from stealing clients or otherwise mining your data. I believe that your LinkedIn Connections should generally remain viewable because they really do help to increase your network of like-minded people. Which bolsters your professional network, adding credibility.

But again, this is your call based on your needs and goals.

Oddball Connections

One thing that might start bugging you is that LinkedIn has an uncanny ability to suggest you connect with people you have never emailed, friended on facebook, or heard from on Twitter. As a matter of fact, that oddball fashionista you met last week at the pub might show up as a suggested connection on your page.

In this way, it’s a little creepy how powerful LinkedIn is.

How does that happen? Well, if you mass-imported your full email contact list, you’re fair game whenever any one of them joins LinkedIn. And anyone who views your profile or has a connection with someone you know – or imports THEIR email list including you – will likely be suggested to you.

Others are mined through powerful algorithms, plug-ins and LinkedIn’s own connections with 3rd parties.

If you’d prefer not to have your information shared with 3rd parties, go to Groups, Companies & Applications in your privacy settings. There you can turn on or off data sharing with 3rd party apps, as well as manage your settings for LinkedIn plugins on 3rd party sites.

But don’t freak. Managed wisely, your LinkedIn privacy settings will keep your info safe from stalkers while at the same time allowing you to make some very beneficial connections.

High School Girlfriends and 5-Alarm Chili

Steering the Right Course for Your LinkedIn Profile

Whether you’re setting up your LinkedIn account now, or you’ve already filled in a lot of the blanks, take a critical look at what you’re entering in order to steer the right course with this powerful tool.

No doubt reminiscing online with old friends is fun.  That’s what Facebook is for.

Think of your LinkedIn presence as a firehose: If you don’t aim it in the right direction, you could do some damage to your image.

With LinkedIn you need to keep your professional objectives at top of mind to put yourself into the best light. This will open your online presence to success-targeted interactions and connections.

Just Say No to Automated Email Import & Network Invitations

After entering your basic name, zip code and employment status info, LinkedIn will offer to import all of your contacts right from your email account, and give you the option of automatically inviting these contacts to join your network with one click.

It’s a tempting time-saver, but don’t do it – for a few good reasons:

Look at your email list. Do you really need to connect with the carpet cleaner you used in 2007?  What about your sister’s co-worker’s niece who asked you to bring your 5-Alarm Chili to that Superbowl party?

Even someone you met at a legitimate business event might not qualify as a helpful LinkedIn connection.

I recommend selecting only a small number of high quality contacts, and waiting a bit before connecting with others.  Think about why you are creating your online presence on LinkedIn.  Can this particular person help you:

  • Keep current on industry news?
  • Show off your particular expertise?
  • Find great professional referrals?
  • Promote your events?
  • Recommend people to others?
  • Get hired for a job, consultancy or business transaction?

If not, skip them for now. You can always invite them later when you’re more familiar with the power of LInkedIn.

Send a Personal Message to The Select Few

Send a personal message to each of your few selected contacts, inviting them to join your LinkedIn network. Refer to an event you both attended or some other commonality. Make it personal, but businesslike

Be Careful with Facebook and Twitter Contacts

Unless your social media accounts have always been strictly for business and every one of your posts has been professional and business-related, I advise against connecting automatically with friends from these sources.  Twitter contact connections are particularly hazardous since you have no control over who follows you.

Go through these contacts critically, with your only business objectives in mind. And when you find a selected contact who can truly benefit you, send them a personal invitation, not an automated one.

Make Your Job History Keyword-Friendly

Use appropriate, searchable keywords when describing your job responsibilities.  Include 3-letter acronyms in parentheses after the written out word, like “Pay-per-click (PPC)”.  This will help the LinkedIn search algorithm show you to people searching these terms.

Your Education & Skills

Your college stats are important here.  However, entering your High School name and year will prompt LInkedIn to offer former classmates who are on LinkedIn now – and you’ll appear to them as well.

Don’t get distracted by thoughts of connecting with your old girlfriend – unless of course she’s a powerful CEO in your industry.  Even then, think carefully about the pros and cons of this connection.

Keep using keywords and phrases when listing your skills, and use as many of the suggested skills offered as you can to search-optimize your profile.

Recommendations Sidebar

LinkedIn will now start to recommend new connections to you, based on what you’ve entered.  This sidebar will continue to update automatically based on your response to its suggested connections. Now isn’t that nice? No more slogging through a bunch of info that has nothing to do with your objectives: LinkedIn automatically offers you targeted information and saves you a lot of time in the process.

Now you’ve got a good start on your LinkedIn profile.  You used search keywords, you’ve stayed consistent with your objectives, and you’ve been prudent with your invitations.

Good going!

Tell your old girlfriend I said hi.

The Gold Mine Staring At Your Face Right Now

Congratulations!  You got an account on LinkedIn.  To sort of post your old resume – and maybe connect with a few friends.  Check in every week or so.

You’re not looking for a job, so it’s just not on the radar.

Here’s a news flash:  You’re missing out.

You are looking for a job. Everyone is, even if they’re gainfully employed right now.

Companies downsize at the drop of a hat these days. Nobody’s immune, so it’s pretty much imperative to keep your profile current and complete, to be growing your contact list, to be watching industry news and researching opportunities.

If you’re not connectable online, that’s bad. But if your online presence is shoddy, that’s worse.

LinkedIn is now the largest business network in the world.

When you joined LinkedIn, you automatically became part of a 150 million-member professional business networking community.  The largest in the world.  So what are you doing about that?

Not only do you have access to employers around the world, but the B2B leads and partnering potential is astounding – as long as you cultivate your LinkedIn presence and stay focused on your objective.

And let’s face it: Your objective is to make money.

If you own a business, your well-focused LinkedIn profile lets you connect with your ideal customers and partners in only a few keystrokes and clicks a day.

LinkedIn also makes it easy for you to:

  • Keep up-to-the-minute with industry news and trends
  • Show off your particular expertise
  • Find great professional referrals
  • Promote your events
  • Recommend people to others (which has a funny way of coming back to benefit you)
  • Get hired for jobs you weren’t even looking for

I am continually amazed at LinkedIn’s unique ability to connect me with so many like-minded professionals.  Again and again, these connections prove invaluable, and they increase exponentially the more I’m involved.  Plus, LinkedIn provides an ever-growing number of networking tools that allow me to engage others in conversation.

LinkedIn is NOT Fancy-Suit Facebook

A big extra bonus of Linked in is that you can ask for – and quickly receive – great advice and info from bona fide industry experts in a matter of minutes, simply by posting a question in the “Answers” section.  And if you’re an expert in a particular field, it’s especially beneficial to give great advice when you can; I’ve been hired many times after I answered questions.

Ever since I completed my LinkedIn profile, made it SEO-friendly, grew my connection list and engaged in industry Q&A, I’ve gotten many consultancies and outright job offers – even though I’m not even looking.

This proves to me that as long as I remain an involved and professionally-presented LinkedIn member, I’ll  never have to worry about finding a new job if something unforeseen suddenly happens.

Facebook can’t do that. Not even close.

Whether you’re an employee, a marketing or sales professional, a job seeker, recruiter, entrepreneur or business owner, your own personal gold mine is right in front of you. Right now.

Next time I’ll detail how to create a LinkedIn profile that works hard for you.

Adding Your Twitter Account to Your LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn lets you add social media feeds to your LinkedIn profile. This lets your profile visitors see what you’re up to on the social media front.

Adding Your Twitter Account

Open your LinkedIn profile, Click on Add Twitter Account and enter your Twitter username. I prefer to Display my Twitter Account on my LinkedIn profile by checking the box. This allows me to Tweet from Twitter and have my Tweets show up in my LinkedIn profile and as my Share status.

LinkedIn Twitter Settings

Now my Twitter account is tied to my LinkedIn profile so my Tweets appear in my Status box.

twitter status

People can easily see your full Status activity by clicking on See all activity where they will see a full listing of your LinkedIn activity.

full twitter feed

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