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With an abundance of social media sites out there, and new ones cropping up all the time, it has become difficult to differentiate each site. After a while they start to blur and it can become frustrating and tiring to try and keep up a presence on each one and to keep up to date on the newest social media  and Internet trends. One site that is sometimes overlooked and is becoming increasingly important for professionals who want to be "plugged in" is LinkedIn.

Over the past few weeks, as I myself have become even more familiar with LinkedIn, I have noticed there is a lack of understanding of the benefits of LinkedIn and how the site is in fact different from other social media platforms. The questions, “Isn’t LinkedIn the same thing as Facebook?” and, “Do I need to be on LinkedIn?” are common ones. This may come as a surprise to some but no, Facebook and LinkedIn are not the same thing, and yes you need to be on LinkedIn if you are in the college phase of your life or beyond. Here’s why:

Social Media for the Career Oriented Individual

facebook versus linkedin, facebook, linkedin, compare, differenceLinkedIn is about professional connections. The site is truly a networking tool, not where people go to write funny comments, plan social events with their friends, or post funny pictures from a vacation. What your LinkedIn profile says matters. It might be interesting to see what your friends on Facebook do, what types of music they like, or perhaps, their favorite movie but that information is most likely not relevant on LinkedIn unless it somehow relates directly to your job or career aspirations. At this point it may seem that LinkedIn is taking the fun out of social media, but the benefits of the site are not in the “fun” aspect. The benefits lie in the professional development and success that is inherent to LinkedIn’s ideology.

A Mission in Sync with Reality

The primary idea of LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals and to make them more productive and successful. With more than 120 Million members around the world (and growing by the second, literally). It’s not often that anyone focuses on a social media site’s mission but in this case the mission fits exactly with the benefits I will mention in this blog. LinkedIn is truly living up to the standard they set for themselves. Keep in mind that for LinkedIn to live up to their mission, users have to take care to use the site’s features, tips, and tricks to their full advantage.

Quality and Keywords Matter

I can’t emphasize enough how important the content on your profile can be to ensuring you get the best results possible from using LinkedIn. The most important thing to keep in mind when getting started or maintaining a LinkedIn profile is that the content of your profile must be up-to-date. For those who are looking to strike up a conversation with old friends or find a business connection, updating your profile means that anyone searching for you has your most recent info and can contact you at your current job rather than the place you worked 4 years ago that shows up on your college or grad school’s (more than likely out-of-date) alum database. LinkedIn is shaping up to be the place to go for the most up-to-date information on anyone who keeps up their online presence.

Additionally, for both the active and passive job seeker a well-developed LinkedIn profile can be the key to finding a great job. Even the little things matter. For example, someone who writes “experience making charts and tables” is not being helpful to recruiters searching for keywords such as “Excel” or “10 years experience”. It is easy to see why entering those phrases in a sentence that incorporates the phrase “10 years experience using Microsoft Excel” would produce better keyword search results for a recruiter and of course help you to be spotted by head hunters. 

A Time Investment that Will Pay Off

Taking some time (even just an hour) to really make sure your profile is up to date and really shows off your skills and past experience may just help you find a job that fits your interests and background perfectly. This can happen because by updating your profile you are posting information that recruiters are actively searching for, like particular keywords as mentioned above. By making sure your profile accurately reflects your background and skills recruiters find better matches and your time investment pays off.

A key feature of LinkedIn that I wish Facebook had is that you can turn off notifications to your connections’ news feeds while you are updating your profile. Some of the most effective profiles out there are not word-for-word copies of a person’s resume so it takes some time to get your profile to a state you are pleased with and your connections don’t necessarily need to be part of that process.

Remember to Mix and Match

Keeping in mind all the benefits of LinkedIn, it’s also important to consider which social media site will best suit your goals. If you are trying to market a product rather than you professional experience LinkedIn may not be the site for you. However, using LinkedIn to showcase your skills and experience and adding links to your company website or twitter account can be a great way to create an online web that allows people visiting each site to get the full picture. It’s these sort of creative solutions that will really get you noticed.

At SnapHawk we believe in taking full advantage of all the platforms of social media the web has to offer. Creating an impactful web presence for personal/professional development or marketing can be tricky. The tips in this blog can definitely help you stand out on LinkedIn; and, if you want to continue building your online presence but aren’t sure how to go about it, we’re always here to help.