I’m not one of those people who think LinkedIn is useless or dead. In my opinion, it’s a useful (pre-optimized) tool for getting found and connecting with colleagues, clients and interesting people. The tips from LinkedIn Co-founder Reid Hoffman provide some basic starting points that I think are helpful. The tip that resonated with me the most was having a goal which requires giving some thought to what audience you want to reach.
Moreover, the process of drafting your LinkedIn profile forces you to really think about what your audience needs to hear from you to decide they want to learn more about you. It’s information (and practice) that can serve you well in live networking events and in making decisions about what sort of business development activities are most relevant to you. In short, it’s practice “doing” strategic planning and this sort of thinking is never wasted. Too many professional service providers try to market themselves by focusing on the activities. For example, “Ok, we’re going to do print ads, or we’re going to mount a digital display campaign” without giving enough thought to how what they are doing aligns with their business goals or whether their expectations about the result are realistic.
LinkedIn is not (just) an online resume, it’s an opportunity to share your expertise with people who might need your services. It’s easy to set up, it’s easy to use and, in my view, a mandatory part of any social presence for business people.
The key is this: It’s not as much about listing your work history and job duties like on a résumé as it is showing how you can help your ideal customer or employer achieve his or her professional goals via the products, services, or skill sets you provide.