We are pleased to be able to share with you a Guest Post from Chris Herd. Chris is not a lawyer and is not even remotely connected to the legal sector. When I first read his post, I saw the relevancy of the points he makes in relation to using social media (in this case, LinkedIn) for professional development. It ties in very well with what we do here in Lex Conscientia trying to ensure that progressive lawyers and law firms optimise the use of social media to gain exposure not only to new clients, but also to fellow professionals and to build relationships from there. A few tips in here also and a reminder that ultimately, like everything else in life, social media is what YOU make it.
What is the Point of LinkedIn?
A year after joining LinkedIn the question I see becoming more prevalent is: what is the point of LinkedIn?
My LinkedIn journey began while still a student searching for a placement in the middle of the last economic recession. I joined LinkedIn in the hope that it would help secure the vital experience necessary to enable my progression into the Architectural profession.
On reflection, this expectation that LinkedIn would sweep in like a White Knight and save me during the worst recession in living memory was somewhat idealistic and misguided. Needless to say my endeavours on the platform were fruitless yet it taught me one very important lesson; desperation when looking for a job is counter-productive. Instead of taking the time to craft the material required to showcase my talents to potential employers I wasted time wandering in the dark hoping to fall into an opportunity. This is the first trap to avoid on LinkedIn.
The biggest mistake I see users make on the platform is similar. 1,000 ‘interested’ comments on 1,000 posts may bear fruit eventually but I guarantee you 10 bespoke, personal and sincere messages detailing your interest in a position and why you are the right person for the job will be met with exponentially more positive reactions. Where the 1,000 comments gain no correspondence, and people wonder why their interest is being ignored, grab the bull by the horns and make sure you are heard. Go to the source, knock down the door and guarantee the recruiter can't ignore you. ‘Interested’ will never achieve this. Don’t carelessly misuse the resource and blame the service for your failings and you’ll be far more successful.
A pointless contribution may colour your experience pointless.
You get out what you put in
This is the first point I always make about LinkedIn. Like any investment it takes time to pay a dividend and show profit. There is, of course, the initial investment required; on LinkedIn this takes the form of the time expended to cultivate a profile which expresses your professional identity.
What people often fail to realise is that it also requires a second investment in order to profit. To cultivate a profile befitting your professional status and articulate the information pertinent to your industry it also requires research. Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice I can give anyone hoping to get more out of LinkedIn is to conduct research to see how others in your industry have expressed themselves on the platform.
Additionally, I would recommend researching the profiles of the professionals you one day hope to emulate. By conducting this research now, you are able to identify what skills and experiences which are necessary to enable your ascent to the positions you aspire to. This is a tremendous use of LinkedIn which people often miss.
The last virtue LinkedIn requires is patience. Just because you have crafted an incredible identity online don’t expect recruiters to flock to you with the promise of employment. That will take time. To expedite the process be proactive, connect with recruiters and talk to people in your industry. I have found that if you do this without any expectation offers will naturally find you.
The second point I make about LinkedIn is that no other platform on the planet can match the exposure that LinkedIn can give you. LinkedIn offers every user the opportunity to establish their expertise, share thoughts with world business leaders and connect with a worldwide network of current and potential clients/partners.
I took advantage of the first opportunity, by writing regularly, and it has enabled me to learn a huge deal through the correspondence that has arisen since. By writing and sharing your ideas, you expose yourself to others, who operate in similar areas of industry, making them aware of your expertise and what you can offer. It offers the opportunity to exchange ideas and make connections which can be mutually beneficial with people who would have forever remained oblivious of your existence were it not for LinkedIn.
On LinkedIn, I have personally had the opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas with some of the world leaders in business both within the Oil & Gas and the technology industry. LinkedIn has been directly responsible for exposing me to an audience I would never previously have considered which has led to opportunities I could only have previously dreamed of.
Finally, LinkedIn has connected me with current and future clients internationally who I’d never previously have been able to reach. It has enabled the opportunity for exploration of business globally and led to the successful award of significant contracts. LinkedIn is a hugely important business tool you avoid at your peril.
The criticism levelled at LinkedIn, that it is morphing into a version of Facebook, is unfounded and I surmise made by those who fail to understand the true usefulness of the platform.
LinkedIn has educated me, exposed me to a huge audience and provided opportunities which would never have found me otherwise. If you utilise the platform in the correct manner and contribute there are massive riches to be found: active participation is key.
The most valuable information that LinkedIn has endowed me with will forever remain the research it has enabled me to conduct in relation to my career development. It has enabled me to tailor my career trajectory by unveiling the skills and experience those whose careers I hope to emulate possess. So, the point of LinkedIn is entirely subjective. If you’re unwilling to participate, contribute or utilise its vast array of service it may well appear pointless. On the contrary, if you seek out opportunities express yourself and make that extra effort it can be the most important tool in your professional armoury. Ultimately, like anything else it life, LinkedIn is what you make it.