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5 Ways to Get More out of LinkedIn

by Dan O'Halloran on September 03, 2013

You have your LinkedIn profile written up listing your work history, your goals and what you're looking for next. You send connection requests with personalized messages (right??) and respond promptly to the ones you receive. So what else can you do to grow your network of connections and let everyone know you're out there (without bothering them)? There are plenty of new site features you can take advantage of in your quest to advance your career.

1. Spice up your work history with images and video

You've listed your experience and cleverly worded your job responsibilities and achievements, but that's just a big wall of text. Fortunately, LinkedIn recently introduced a new feature to really show off your work: You now have the ability to embed images and video at the end of each job listing.

This is a great opportunity to let prospective employers see your crowning achievement or even an award you've won. It works with a wide range of formats including PDFs, Power Point Presentations, pictures and videos. However, it won't generate an image of a website or blog. If you want to show that off, you can always take a screenshot of it and upload that.


2. Fill out your profile with special events qualifications

When editing your profile, you'll see a box on the right-hand side listing what other boxes you can add to your page. Projects is a popular one, allowing you to not only spotlight a big achievement in your career, but you can tag contributors that you are connected to as well.

There are also options for many other things that recruiters look for in candidates, including languages known, courses taken and volunteer work. Don't hesitate to crow about these achievements. It's often the very thing that separates you from other qualified applicants.


3. Follow Channels to keep up on the latest in your field

LinkedIn ChannelsLinkedIn has an Influencer program that allows members that are well-known and well-respected in their fields to get more exposure for articles and shared wisdom they post on the site. For a broader perspective, subscribe to Channels, which groups together Influencers with top news sources to provide inspiration, current events and thoughtful articles in subject matters that you may be interested in.

You can find  a selection of Channels to follow, including Social Media, Small Businesses and Creative Inspiration, on LinkedIn Today. You can also follow Influencers, such as LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner, Ariana Huffington and Mark Cuban. Once you follow or subscribe, articles and posts from these sources will show up in your news feed on your home page of LinkedIn.

Many of the kinds of articles you see here tend to fall in the category of general career advice you can find on a number of popular sites, but it is nice to see it all in one place. And as the Influencer program grows, hopefully there will be more diverse and original content.


4. Reconnect with college friends

LinkedIn University PagesFinding old classmates isn't just a Facebook perk. Last week LinkedIn launched University Pages. Though primarily designed to help prospective students check out their college prospects, they also have the added bonus of listing LinkedIn members who are alumni of each institution. And this where it can be valuable to you.

By clicking on "Network" and the "Find Alumni" (or visiting your institution's home page if you haven't added your alma mater),  you can see what happened to your college friends and where they ended up in their career. Who knows, they may be in a position to help you out or vice versa. You can even contact current students if you need to fill an internship or want to provide mentorship.


5. Pull it all together with LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn ContactsLinkedIn Contacts allows you to import your contacts, calendars and notes from other services into LinkedIn. You now have one place where all your conversations across different platforms are collated into one place. It's even available to view on the LinkedIn Contacts mobile app for the iPhone.

On top of that, you will be reminded of the birthdays of your contacts as well as when they get a new job or title. Both are perfect opportunities to send a congratulatory message to keep you top in their mind.

LinkedIn can take in information from Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and iPhone Contacts, as well as scanned business cards from CardMunch or business notes on Evernote. You can even use TripIt to recommend local contacts for you when you travel. 

The downside, of course, is handing over this kind of information over to LinkedIn. They don't record the contents of your emails, but they do have access to a great deal of information. Think carefully about which accounts you want to include and if they are all business contacts or a mix of personal and professional. For extra protection, be sure to enable two-step verification on your LinkedIn account to prevent outsiders from hacking into all this personal information.


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