LinkedIn: The Real Scoop About What It Can- and Can’t- Do For Your Career

By on October 10, 2011
Linkedin

As a career and executive coach, speaker and recruitment consultant, I use LinkedIn (LI) extensively each day, and I enjoy it. I’ve found that building my network to over 1,000 direct contacts (accessing 10 million+ indirect contacts) has been well worth the two years of time and energy. I’m a big fan of LI – and truly appreciate the power of the tool and all the opportunities, gigs, partnerships, insights, information and support that have come my way from it.

Move up Move down

I like LinkedIn so much that I often refer to it as the “great cocktail party in the sky.”

The analogy of the cocktail party truly fits. LinkedIn has the following aspects in common with an awesome cocktail party:

  • You get the chance to connect with like-minded people who you may otherwise never have had the chance to meet
  • Investing just a bit of time each day, you can learn a great deal that’s of interest and use
  • It’s a blast to connect to people that you admire from afar, and who can teach you vital things about how to be more of what you want to be
  • You can determine in an instant if you want to spend any more time and energy in getting to know new folks you see
  • Socializing beyond your limited sphere helps you build a powerful community that supports and enriches
  • You can add great diversity to your pool of colleagues and peers by branching out and connecting with new people across the country and globally
  • Meeting new people who are doing amazing and inspiring things in this world is exhilarating

But after two years of using LinkedIn for a good amount of time each day, and after counseling others on how to build their personal brand on LinkedIn for professional advantage, I’m witnessing some negative effects of the misguided ideas people have gleaned about what LinkedIn can do for them.

Here’s what I’ve observed to be the Top 8 Myths about LinkedIn as a professional tool, and offer some straight talk about what you can expect it to do for you.

Here are the Top 8 Myths we need to bust:

Myth #1: LinkedIn will get me a job

Nothing is going to “get you a job” but you.  Yes, you can search new job openings in your area, and discover who posted the job, and connect with these folks. You can find people who work at companies posting jobs, check them out, and ask their help to introduce you. But these steps aren’t going to land you a job. You must still do the rigorous internal and external work of knowing what you’re great at, communicating your talents, finding strong-fitting positions, then get on the radar of the hiring manager or recruiters involved, and present yourself as a highly qualified and desirable candidate.

Myth #2: LinkedIn will replace recruiters

There’s a growing fear out there that LinkedIn will replace recruiters as conduits for connecting talented candidates to leading employers. It’s just not so. There’s an important personal dimension to recruiting that a tool such as LinkedIn simply can’t provide. From critically sifting through hundreds of resumes, to understanding the components of true “fit” for the hiring company, to personally interviewing and filtering candidates, and doing the extensive legwork of communicating “fit” to both employer and candidate — recruiting is a labor-intensive job that requires expert, personalized skill and attention. Again, LI is a powerful tool that certainly has changed the recruiting landscape, but recruiters remain vitally important in the process.

Myth #3: There’s no need to fully flesh out my profile – a brief line or two is fine

OK, this one makes me nuts. Here’s this vastly powerful free networking tool that allows you to tell the world who you are as a professional – what you stand for, how you’re different from all the rest, what you’re passionate about, and how you’ve contributed in the workforce. And yet thousands of folks simply don’t spend any time to articulate who they are, or present themselves in a compelling, engaging manner. As a recruiter, when I view a poorly executed profile, I see a lack of interest in promoting yourself that speaks volumes about how committed and excited you are in your professional endeavors overall. If your job or industry (national security, for instance) doesn’t allow you to share info on LinkedIn, then so be it. For the rest of us, a full profile is critical.

Myth #4: Because I have over 100 (or 1000) connections, new opportunities will come easily to me

As in everything in life, quality matters over quantity. If you have scores of folks in your community who have nothing to do with anything you care about (or who aren’t interested in what you’re doing), then your connections will not generate productive or beneficial results for you.

Myth #5: When folks accept my LI invitation, they want to partner with me or connect more deeply

I’ve learned this the hard way in my recruiting work — just because people accept your invitation to connect, doesn’t mean they care about being in connection with you in any deeper way. It may simply mean that they saw your network as something advantageous to THEM, and they linked in for their own professional gain. Connections are interesting as far as they go – but it’s you who must make something positive of them.

Myth #6: LinkedIn is the best professional networking tool for all businesses or careers

LinkedIn is not the best tool for all businesses, jobs and careers alike. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can be more powerful and effective, and reach more of your target audience. Know your audience and their tastes and behaviors, and select the best tool to connect with your prospective clients, colleagues and partners.

Myth #7: The more updates I post the better

Again, quality reigns supreme here. Choose carefully what you put out there in the world, and be respectful of the time and energy of those who read your updates. Make sure what you share performs at least one of these important functions:  1) informs, 2) entertains, 3) enlivens, 4) supports others, and/or 5) adds value.

Myth #8: Being highly connected on LinkedIn is a sign of professional success

Having hundreds (or thousands) of connections does not necessarily equate to financial success, business prowess or entrepreneurial acumen. It means only that the user has spent time and energy to build his/her network and that others have felt it of some value to mutually connect. Don’t mistake volumes of connections with professional credibility or success.

*  *  *  *  *  *

In the end, while the LinkedIn “cocktail party in the sky” has had a dramatic impact on how we connect and engage with each other professionally, it’s not able, on its own, to bring your career to the level of success, fulfillment and reward you want.

LinkedIn is only a tool, and is only as effective, engaging, and productive as the user behind it.


Kathy Caprino, M.A., is nationally-recognized women’s work-life expert, career and executive coach, recruitment consultant, and author of
Breakdown, Breakthrough: The Professional Woman’s Guide to Claiming a Life of Passion, Power, and Purpose. Founder/President of Ellia Communications, Inc. — a career and executive coaching firm dedicated to helping professionals achieve breakthrough to greater success and fulfillment in life and work, Caprino is a former corporate marketing executive, trained psychotherapist, seasoned coach, and sought-after writer and speaker. As a top media source on women’s career issues and trends, she has appeared in more than 100 leading newspapers and magazines and on national radio and television. Connect with Kathy on Twitter @kathycaprino, and on LinkedIn and FB.

 

About Kathy Caprino

Kathy Caprino, M.A. is a nationally-recognized women’s career coach and work-life expert, executive trainer, Forbes contributor, writer and speaker dedicated to the advancement of women in business. Author of Breakdown, Breakthrough, and Founder of The Amazing Career Project, Kathy is President of Ellia Communications, Inc. -- a leading career and executive coaching and training firm helping professional women build successful and fulfilling careers of significance, and reach their highest potential. For more information, visit kathycaprino.com or write to [email protected] Connect with Kathy on: Twitter, FB, LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LinkedIn: The Real Scoop About What It Can- and Can’t- Do For Your Career