Although networkers and job seekers are flocking to LinkedIn in droves, author and motivational speaker Brian McClellan, 38, says that he had to be dragged onto the free social networking site when he first learned about it in 2007. “I took some convincing,” he admits.
The former vice president for Georgia-Pacific Inc., a global pulp and paper company, now runs Success Minded African Americans, a 1,300-plus networking and discussion group on LinkedIn. Since joining the site, McClellan says he has had tremendous success that has translated into speaking engagements and the book A Love Letter to Black People: Audaciously Hopeful Thoughts on Race and Success (Sherian Publishing; $24.99).
With more than 40 million members representing more than 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn has become the site for entrepreneurs and corporate-types alike to make connections that help them find jobs, position themselves as experts, hire employees, or build businesses.
But McClellan says that using LinkedIn successfully means rethinking how you network. “This is not something for tech geeks or that you need only at a certain time in your career. It really should be a critical part of your career plan,” he says. And it’s easy to get started.
After creating a profile that summarizes your professional experience, you make “connections” by inviting people you know to link to your profile. Users can view each other’s connections and request introductions to individuals they would like to meet.
Steve Tylock, author of The LinkedIn Personal Trainer (Tylock and Co.; $17.95) booklet, offers these tips for maximizing your presence:
Focus on your “headline.” As you complete the form, the text you enter as your “current position” becomes your default headline—what people see next to your name on a search. A description of what makes you unique or means more to you might take you further than your job title.