I have been contemplating the benefits of LinkedIn, and ideal amount of information to upload about yourself. Is it wise to treat your profile like a CV and keep it relatively brief? Or should you take the opportunity to add a bit more information and really explain those achievements? After all, recruiters can search across tags, and if they have looked at your profile, maybe they are more willing to spend a bit longer perusing it as opposed to the quick glance a CV is given amongst a large pile for job applications.
I have also been wondering if there is an “optimum” number of connections to have. Does having too many connections make you look like none of them are particularly valuable? Or does having too few make it appear that you are reluctant to branch out and make new acquaintances?
Of course, the answer to pretty much all of these questions depends on your own personal circumstances and what you are hoping to achieve by being visible on the network. Perhaps it is purely to ensure you are representing yourself, and simply to have a small, professional presence online. Perhaps you are touting for a new job role, or looking to flaunt your skills to others? Personally, as I am new to the profession, I use it as a way to keep track of those who I have met so far (useful for helping me to remember names!), to help build some kind of profile for future job hunting, and as an exercise to force myself to constantly review my skills and update my CV. By publishing information online via my LinkedIn profile where others can see it, I am forced to ensure that it is up to date, and represents my skills as I want others to see them.
For the reasons outlined above, I therefore have my profile locked down, displaying only my current place of work, and a photo. I make a point of trying only to accept LinkedIn invitations from people who I have either met in person, or exchanged emails/correspondence with. I also try to keep connections limited to those who have relevance to my sector or work (Twitter and Facebook will suffice for friends and the rest). Where I have invitations from people who I have heard of and would like to connect with, I still try not to accept until I have actually had some kind of interaction with them, so that when I do “LinkIn” it might have a greater meaning.
The point of this post is to encourgage you to think about what, if anything, you hope to achieve out of maintaining online professional connections, and then tailor your approach accordingly. I’d be intrigued to hear about your approaches, and to have some of my own thoughts challenged!