We’ve included this quote as a disclaimer: this is just advice. No matter what other bloggers promise, we know there are many ways to create a LinkedIn profile. Yes, you can shoot your free throws overhand, but Rick Barry shot underhand and ranks #1 in the ABA and #3 in the NBA.
For those of you forward to a post-athletic career, a LinkedIn account is a must. In fact, it is a must for any professional looking to grow and further their career. Unlike a stagnant online resume posted on Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, or the niche job board of your choice, LinkedIn is a vehicle to connect with other professionals, a resource to research companies and careers, and a place to find tips in the form of blog posts, groups, and updates
The biggest piece of advice we can offer is this: it’s not Facebook. A lot of LinkedIn members treat this medium like the Holy Grail. Be respectful to the other members and behave professionally. And resist the urge to add angry comments on the newest feature – LinkedIn Publisher.
Invitations to connect:
When you extend an invitation to connect with someone on LinkedIn, take the time to write a message as to why you want to connect with that person. With just 300 characters allowed in the message:
- A reminder where you met: “I enjoyed meeting you last night at the 20/30 Networking event and I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
- A shared background: “I am also a former collegiate athlete and I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
- Leverage one of their posts, updates, etc.: “I just read your update on the recent product announcement from Acme Company and I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn to stay informed.”
- Fellow Member of a Group: “I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn as a fellow member of the Collegiate Athletes in the Workplace group and expand my network.”
When your invitation is accepted, send a quick follow-up message thanking them for connecting. Remember, networking is a mutually-beneficial relationship, so include your willingness to help them as well: “Thank you for connecting with me and please let me know if I can be of any help in the future.”
Endorsements & Recommendations
Many people view the endorse button on LinkedIn like a “like” button on Facebook. Please don’t endorse a particular skill unless you can personally vouch for that person’s ability. You also have opportunities to write recommendations for members. Treat it like a letter of recommendation, because hiring managers and recruiters are using them for that reason in the early stages of the interviewing process.
A Couple Other Points
- Spell check, spell check, and spell check: Ask someone to proofread your profile for any red flags or if anything isn’t clear. And don’t forget to check your grammar.
- Don’t over-abbreviate: You’re not texting. If you want to use an abbreviation in the top quarter of your profile (job title), that’s fine. However, spell it out the first time you refer to this again, then you can use the abbreviations. For example, “CPA / Financial Professional” is a great title. Later, in your summary “I am a Certified Public Accountant and have been working on a team of nine CPAs for the last three years.”
Also keep in mind that while everyone in your industry may know what an LCSW is, not everyone knows that it stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and you could be overlooked for an opportunity.