A little bit earlier today, I was asked an interesting question to answer, about the social media site LinkedIn.
Before I address the question, I just wanted to say that I have a lot of friends whom have a LinkedIn, but underestimate the power of the services it offers. Once I show the power of LinkedIn (I currently have 500+ contacts), my friends quickly adapt to the social media platform. Just ask my friend Anthony Collica.
Getting back to the question I was asked:
How can LinkedIn help you build your career path and establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry?
There are several aspects of LinkedIn, that make it more professionally desirable over other social media platforms like Facebook and Tumblr. However, the main feature that is most attractive is the ability to deal with working professionals in fields of expertise that one may be interested in pursuing or learning more about. For example, say a person is interested in the banking industry not only in the U.S., but in other global markets as well. The first step that person should take, would be to check out different LinkedIn groups that may be relevant to what they are searching for. For example, after doing a search, one can come across a group entitled "Banking Careers". After finding this group, the person can apply to join it and then get accepted to the circle of individuals already involved with the group. Now that they have this exposure to hundreds of people in that area of interest; how do they know who to pay attention to? or maybe even try to connect with?
That brings up the next major point of this article. When viewing a personal LinkedIn page, there are credentials that a person can reference. This means that anyone can observe a person's work history and educational background. For example, say interest changes from banking to a more niche subject like Software Development in Afghanistan. More likely than not, a person will come across the one and only Roya Mahboob. Since Roya Mahboob is the CEO of Citadel Software Company, the user's interest should be extremely peaked. From here, they can choose to try and connect with her (which she will hopefully come across their profile by doing so), and they can also see who she includes in her professional network.
Now that person comes across a thought leader in technological development of Central and South Asia, Francesco Rulli. This has traveled the person from something that sparks their interest, to a person who works directly in that field and the people they associate themselves with. A person can also see how influential people are, and how much of a thought leader they are in the area of interest. This is done, by reading personal recommendations given to that person from other people on LinkedIn. The more credibility they have, the more interested people are in working with that person. For example, I plan to be a thought leader on Social Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets, and I believe a prime example of this subject would be Roya Mahboob. So I would make sure to be connected with her, and maybe even get direct contact with her about her company, via message (directly on LinkedIn). By gaining her attention, and promoting what I would like to be a thought leader on, we both beneficially market each other to the networks we have created ourselves. This ideally opens up new people either of us may have never met, by using Professional Social Media Networking Ideology.
As well as being able to create networks of people with the same interests, one can become friends with people who post job openings directly to the website as well. Therefore, regardless if a person wants to start a business, find a job, or just gain credibility and push their idea to the population of LinkedIn; they can do so. They can do it all through networking, while having the ability to connect with anyone within the worldwide web. With all that said, I believe LinkedIn may be one of the best forms of Social Media on the market today. It gives individuals the ability to develop their own professional image. It cuts out all the gossip related issues that Facebook contains, and gives individuals professional knowledge only. I strongly recommend using it, and making sure to learn the ins and outs of it while doing so.