As with all social media platforms, LinkedIn is about getting and staying connected.
But, the main difference with LinkedIn is that it is very specifically focused on business, and network building for business and career purposes, i.e. professional networking.
You may be thinking that you have a job already, and you are maybe friends with all your work colleagues (the one’s you don’t mind seeing what you do in your private time) on other social media networks such as Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter. So, why join and nurture a LinkedIn profile for yourself?
Basically, the profile you put together for yourself on LinkedIn specifically concentrates on your work experience and education. It’s very much like an online CV, so you don’t actually expose which music and bands you are interested in or reveal that you are an avid Candy Crush player. The photo you upload should be more of a professional nature, and not the one you have of your children swimming on the beach. In this way, you can manage what potential employer’s actually see about you without getting lost in a personal bungle of family photos and ‘memories’ from your high school field trip eons ago. Remember, this is the space to build your brand image of yourself and then market yourself accordingly. Use it with care if you want it to work for you!
You can then start to connect with your community of colleagues and work mates, classmates (past and present), academic connections, etc. and build your professional network. At the same time, you can search for key contacts in companies that interest you and properly aim to turn professional relationships into opportunities. The possibility to endorse people for skills they list on the site functions very much like a reference. If you write that you have project management skills, and many connections endorse you for this, then this looks very appealing to a recruiter who is looking for someone with project management experience.
LinkedIn is a very popular site for advertising jobs, and recruiters and Human Resources departments throughout the world use this tool to search for candidates, and then make contact with them.
The platform is also a fantastic research tool. If you need to prepare yourself for an upcoming interview, you can check out who works at the company and what they do. This information may be invaluable to you, and showing a company that you have taken the time to read about the company and find out what everyone does there shows initiative and genuine interest. This is always regarded as something positive by interviewers.
And, if you are already in a job and looking for new business opportunities within your job, such as sales opportunities, or being on the pulse of new businesses that are opening or closing in your industry, then this is certainly where you want to be. In addition, news circulated can be tailored just for you and you can stay on top of all the industry news that is relevant to you, your present job and your future career prospects.
The UCT English Language Centre runs business English courses for those students who specifically want to learn English in a business context. These courses are open to anyone with an Intermediate level of English, or higher, and are taken in combination with a general English course.