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Back when I first encountered LinkedIn, I found it was pretty useless to me. Now, while I'm conducting a job search, I've discovered how to make it useful... not as a primary contact point or job-finding mechanism, but as a supplement to the other things I do. So... how exactly am I using it? Here are my Top 10 rules: 1- LinkedIn is for my professional life only. I consciously avoid links between ANY sites that cross over between professional and personal. That plus judicious use of privacy settings everywhere... well, it doesn't completely separate the two, but it helps. 2- My only LinkedIn contacts are people that I know and respect, and that I believe respect and value my skills. 3- I categorize my contacts carefully: colleagues, partners, etc. Those who are just "friends" are few, and only accepted into my network as a courtesy; they are not actively sought out. 4- I use the contact system as it was meant to be used. That means asking for invitations, not sending requests to people I don't know. Other professionals respect this and respond positively to introductions. (If folks are very slow to provide introductions, I'll use the telephone to prompt them. This almost always works -- because of #2 and #3, I have or can easily get access to phone numbers.) 5- My LinkedIn profile is basically my resume. The public URL is printed on my personal business card. 6- I use "" to provide links on my profile page where interested parties can download a PDF copy of my real resume, and important documents I've written and published elsewhere. 7a- I actively ask for recommendations from key people in my career history who will give me strong, well-written references. I gently advise if there are grammatical errors or misspellings, and I make sure the recommendation isn't "damning with faint praise." I only display references that will advance my career. 7b- When interviewers or recruiters ask for references early on, I point them to my LinkedIn recommendations. This almost always suffices. This lets me protect my managerial references from being bothered; I provide a means to speak with them only when someone is nearly ready to make an offer. [BTW, yes, you can do #5-7 by having your own standalone website. Not sure if that is a better approach or not.] 8- I link all my other job search accounts or profiles back to my LinkedIn profile, and to each other, as far as is possible. 9- I actively search for internal contacts at places I think I'd like to work, and ask for introductions. I can find out what it's really like to work there; I can make new professional contacts; often I can get an internal referral directly to the hiring manager. (For internal referrals, I encourage complete honesty: "I've only recently met the guy online and really don't know him, but you might want to take a look and maybe interview him." I am often surprised at how this small thing still propels my resume towards the front of the list.) 10- I don't join every group I can. I do join the groups for my professional affiliations (such as IEEE and ACM). I am also judicious about which group memberships I allow to be publicly visible on my profile: only those which ought to appear on a resume. [Of course, besides all this, I also use LinkedIn to keep track of people's contact information when it changes, but others have already discussed how they do that.]
Toggle Commented Oct 2, 2010 on Opting Out of Linked In at Coding Horror
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Oct 2, 2010