For the techies: you already know this.  But I read up on why Satya Nadella would buy LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion.  In a sentence: talent acquisition in the sharing economy as a digital solution.  If you want your services to be reachable and you want your skills and depth of knowledge to be shown in the best possible light – you better step up your profile game!  I’m not going to preach on what you need to do. You know what to do. Make sure you spend time on it.  If you need more proof, ready Rob Salkowitz’s article in Forbes.

And now, for the rest of us.

If you’re like me, you have a half decent LinkedIn profile that you update when you are frustrated with a problem in your daily work (or you hate your boss at that moment!). Or when looking for a new job.

The most common feature used by people from the Middle East & Asian Sub Continent use LinkedIn is to search and apply for jobs.  Especially when you are desperate for a new job (or a first job as young job seekers also enter these markets) there is a tendency to apply for jobs that you haven’t even looked into properly.

I’ve used LinkedIn’s Recruiter tool to hire customer service agents for a automotive financing service offering for the largest UAE based online classifieds website.  Within weeks, I was overwhelmed with the number of applications. And most were not even remotely the skills or experience that we had clearly stated in the job description.  God Bless our recruitment consultant who had to sift through at least a thousand applications to short list. The entire hiring process took about 3 months in about 5 batches.  We found really good people though!

I am now discovering a new way to use LinkedIn.  Instead of hyper-applying, I suggest the following ways to have opportunities come to you:

Create your own content

Use LinkedIn as your space to promote yourself; your skills and your knowledge. Show potential employers who you are influenced by professionally.

Share your ideas or opinions in the form of articles, presentations and videos specific to your profession or business.  It will strengthen your creation skills as well as force you to keep updated on the current trends.  If you want to stand out, you need to show potential employers (or in the case of an entrepreneur, important business contacts) that you have a good knowledge of the business and/or technical  expertise.

Trust me, no one cares about what”5 Things to quit (right now)”

If you come across some news , data or information that is specific to your profession and applicable to you in the area that you work in (i.e. a city, country, region), only then should you share the post.  And don’t just share the post.  Use this opportunity to add in your response to the content – from a professional capacity.

Change the mug shot

Sadly, I am a major sinner in this area.  Personally, I’m not a guy who is eager to get his photo taken.  So I don’t have a library of good pictures of myself. When I was setting up my Linked In account, I bribed my (then) 10 year old niece to take a photo of me in a suit with my smart phone.  She celebrated her 13th birthday a few weeks ago. (mental note: I really need to change my profile photo).

But at least I didn’t put up a passport photo scan of myself.  That one dimensional photo is meant only for bureaucratic purposes.  At least give your photo some dimension.  While on the subject, let me give a shout out to those people who put up pictures with them and a famous person (especially if its a business leader).  Branson is not even looking your way in the picture! Plus he can afford to have a picture taken with him on the beach with his chest exposed.  He is able to capitalize on it.   What other people see is you with your arm wrapped around Branson with a drink in your hand.

Don’t forget age old wisdom

Wise men in white collars say that you should always keep your resume updated. But most, update it when we are applying for something.  While engaged in a job or project, we seldom take the time to take note of our responsibilities, achievements and what we learnt.  But it helps to jot down your professional facts & figures (like what was your growth in sales, what kind of budgets you were working with, number of customers, etc).  When you update your resume, go ahead and update your digital resume (LinkedIn profile and any other digital profiles you maintain with recruiters.  I try to do it every quarter.  Every time you update, try to improve the previous content as well.

Don’t share water-cooler talk!  

When you meet someone professionally for the first time, would you give him generic advice about career advancement? Or may be give them a math problem to solve.

It’s a rhetorical question.

When i see someone share (or like) this type of content, sub consciously I have already written off the person as one who has too much time and not enough of a focus on their chosen career or profession. I’m not trying to be a jerk about it. But check with any rational person and they will tell you the same thing.

Show people who you are influenced by

You may like to follow what leaders in your profession are talking about.  Follow them to get insight into their interests and goals.  In fact, read the kind of material they are posting. If it strikes a chord with you, and you have something (again, professional!) to say on the topic, don’t just respond with a “Wow Sir Branson. This is fantastic”. He’s not going to read it, jump out of his seat and demand a meeting with you.  Instead, contribute to the conversation with your own experiences and achievements. He still won’t jump out of his seat. But it may strike a chord with some one else in your network. Before your know it, your subject matter is influencing people.

Don’t be a phish

If someone is posting about some random job(s) that kind of fit your skill set, and asking you to type “interested”, I hate to break it to you, but that’s NOT how companies recruit.  The optimist in me says that these guys are part of some recruiting chain and they are just acquiring data of potentials (you can sell data, you know!).  The digital security conscious pessimist in me says there is a chance that it is part of an online scam.

It goes without saying (I’m sure most are already aware), ANY ONE contacting you from some random country or organization looking to do a transaction or business that has nothing to do with your profession, or sounds too good to be true – ignore it!  I’m sure the young crowd has grown immune to them.  But its the digitally challenged older generation who some times get interested in the story.  Luckily, they share it with a younger person and the problem ends there.

Now go update your LinkedIn profile!