Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
The world is in love with social media. We use it to stay connected to those we know, as well as meet new acquaintances. We use it to share pictures of our family, our surroundings and perhaps even our lunch and dinner. We use it share our current status, both in work and life, and our acquired knowledge.
Using social media intelligently has become more important as it becomes more widely used and as it dominates more of our time. The most valuable commodity in the world at this moment is attention and everyone is battling for the same 24 hours that you possess. This is why it’s important to thoughtfully choose which network you utilize when it comes to professional usage and development.
For those that have attended our workshop ‘She’s a Specifier, He’s a Product Rep: Different Roles, Same Goals’, or listened to our latest podcast, you know how much importance we place on using LinkedIn. With 562,000,000 registered members, including close to 150 million in the US, we view it as THE social network to use for a professional presence in Architecture, Engineering and Construction and the working world in general.
Launched just over fifteen years ago, LinkedIn was taken seriously as a social media network when Microsoft acquired them just over two years ago for over $26 BILLION, which was over three times the price they paid for Skype in 2011 at $8.5 billion.
If you aren’t taking full advantage of the benefits that LinkedIn has to offer, you may need to ask yourself why? Please don’t say that “it’s just for job seekers” or “I don’t have time for more social media”. First, just like other social media platforms are not about sharing what you had for lunch, LinkedIn isn’t solely about finding a job. While job seeking is certainly one component of LinkedIn, as an active user, I see few posts mentioning job opportunities in comparison to the industry knowledge being shared.
One of the clear benefits, and alone a reason to use the site, is that Google LOVES LinkedIn. Let’s face it, we all want Googleability as an individual and to appear on the first page when someone queries a name. Have you ever tried searching for a name only to find the first result comes from LinkedIn? I have, daily! If you can’t be found on Google, you might as well be intentionally living off the grid. If you are in sales, or it benefits your brand to be found, LinkedIn is an absolute must.
You should be taking advantage of every opportunity that a LinkedIn profile has to offer, which most certainly includes a recent, professional picture that makes you more recognizable. If you’re anything like me, you are horrible at remembering names, but faces are always familiar. It’s always boggled my mind that selfies are so popular on social media, yet a good profile image is so rare across many professional platforms. Let’s put it this way: don’t you want to be memorable in some way? If someone can’t remember your name, wouldn’t you want them to remember your face? Take a good selfie, have a friend take a picture or go get a professional headshot. Do ANYTHING to make sure that your LinkedIn profile picture is an accurate representation of what you look like today.
While LinkedIn is not all about job hunting, it doesn’t mean that your profile shouldn’t be an accurate representation of what your professional role is day to day, whether you are a building product marketer (BPM), a project manager in an architect’s office, a civil engineer, a building code official or an independent construction specifier. In our era of the side hustle and the gig economy, you never know who may be searching for you, or why. Connections are undervalued as a powerful resource and if someone searches for you on the web, you can’t afford to not be found.
What is your area of expertise? What knowledge can you share as a leader in your industry? What industry events are coming up that everybody should know about? What innovative thing are you, or your company, doing that sets you apart? LinkedIn is a great place to get this type of information out to a broader audience, whether you share a post with a link to great information or you publish an article to share your expertise, LinkedIn is an excellent way to connect to very specific industry groups and professionals.
And speaking of connections, think of LinkedIn as a modern-day cocktail party or industry event, but on steroids. In the past, our networking was very much limited to whomever you met in a particular room. With the advent of social media, that dynamic has drastically changed. You can now connect to industry professionals all over the world who share similar interests. The power in making those connections is unlimited and the knowledge sharing potential is incredible. If you are in a sales or service industry, the ability to connect with targeted groups is invaluable.
If you’re one of the aforementioned BPM’s, we all know how insufficient manufacturer’s websites can be. Not to mention we all know the importance of being found in a timely fashion when someone searches for you or your product online. Make sure your LinkedIn bio is complete with your contact information, as well as your product lines. If your manufacturer doesn’t make it very easy to be discovered, do your part to ensure that you’re out there front and center.
As with most social media platforms, it’s not all about the talking (or self-promotion), but more importantly about the listening. The best way to learn about a new medium, or a new connection, is to listen and observe and only then should you participate and chime in. Answer questions, make recommendations, offer skill endorsements, generally participate with your communities and preferably twice as much as you post your own status update.
The bottom line is that there is no more powerful or impactful professional social networking than LinkedIn. Twitter is for conversations, Facebook is more personal, Instagram is for pictures but LinkedIn is where you make it happen.
To connect with me on LinkedIn, please send me a connection request at www.linkedin.com/in/ericdlussier and you may also connect with Cherise Lakeside here.
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