With LinkedIn now home to over 500 million members worldwide and counting, most professionals I know have an active profile on the platform. However, somewhat surprisingly, in recent months, I’ve begun to cross paths with professionals, especially more senior-level executives, who question the value of being on LinkedIn. Some see having a carefully crafted profile as a gimmick. Others think the platform’s only relevant to younger professionals. Still, others feel LinkedIn is only useful if you’re job hunting.
From what I’ve observed in my own career and my clients’ careers, being active on LinkedIn has little downside, and in fact, can open many doors when used in the right way. If you’re someone who still thinks LinkedIn is no longer relevant or valuable, here are five professional opportunities you may be missing by not being active on LinkedIn:
1. Receiving Professional Support By Posting Status Updates
Assuming you’ve invested the time to keep your network warm and maintain strong professional relationships, LinkedIn can be an untapped source of additional support when you need it most. Posting a status update can be an efficient way to let your network know you’re hiring talent, seeking expert guidance, or launching a new venture.
Your network can even help you uncover new job opportunities if they know you’re looking. Heather Monahan, Founder of Boss In Heels, says LinkedIn has been a game changer for her. “After 14 years at Beasley Media Group and as the Chief Revenue Officer, I was unexpectedly terminated.” She ended up posting a LinkedIn status update telling her network her role had been eliminated. Afterward, offers to help rolled in. “I received job opportunities, recommendations, connections, and encouragement. Changing my employment on my profile was another empowering moment for me that brought tremendous support from my contacts.”
Tip: Post a short status update on your profile page to tell your network when you’ve started a new chapter in your career to give people an opportunity to offer relevant support.
2. Driving Personal Brand Awareness By Self-Publishing Articles
Originally available only to editorially selected “Influencers,” the LinkedIn Publishing platform for writing long-form blog posts is now available to most members. One published, these posts appear under your ‘Articles & Activity’ feed and remain as part of your profile indefinitely, which can help establish and reinforce your personal brand, professional identity, and industry domain expertise.
Self-publishing about a specific topic can also help amplify your credibility and visibility within your network, positioning you or your company as a thought leader in your industry. “The ability to publish articles/blogs through LinkedIn helped me develop my personal brand as well as my Company brand and position me as an influencer,” according to Tricia Lucas, Founder and President of the recruitment firm Lucas Select. “As a small business startup, I didn’t have to spend a fortune creating and sharing my original content. LinkedIn helped me build my recruiting and consulting business by providing a channel to promote my brand and offerings.”
Tip: Using LinkedIn Publishing, post a short blog post about a topic relevant to the domain expertise you’re trying to establish as part of your personal brand. Get more detailed guidance on how to use LinkedIn Publishing.
3. Increasing Your Recruiter Visibility By Enabling the “Open Candidate” Option
Since late 2016, LinkedIn has given users the ability to privately signal to recruiters you’re open to job opportunities. You can specify the types of companies, locations, and roles in which you’re most interested, allowing recruiters to quickly identify whether you’re right for the roles they’re trying to fill.
If you’re in the market for a new role, turning this simple option on can help open up opportunities. “Without having my profile settings show my interest in new opportunities and specific roles I would be interested in, I would not have the position I have today,” said Marisa Sniff, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Combined Insurance. “With just the click of a button, my profile was highlighted to a recruiter who reached out to me directly with a compelling InMail that piqued my interest. We started talking, and the rest is history.”
Tip: To let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities, visit your Career Interests preferences page, then turn “On” that option under “Privacy Settings.” Get more detailed guidance on how to share your career interest with recruiters.
4. Remaining Current By Keeping Your Profile Up-To-Date
Maintaining an updated LinkedIn profile gives recruiters and other professionals an easy way to quickly find you , understand your professional background, and determine the value you can add. I was surprised to hear one senior executive recently tell me he didn’t feel the need to be on LinkedIn because most people simply went to their company website to find his information.
Most recruiters I speak to say LinkedIn is the first place they go when sourcing candidates. Allison Chappelle, Managing Director of Patina Solutions with 20+ years of recruitment experience, agrees. “Most recruiters rarely seek out bios on a company website. We go to LinkedIn.”
Additionally, if you’re not on LinkedIn with a complete profile, Chappelle says you risk looking out of touch and indifferent. “Being on LinkedIn shows you’re open to networking and have an understanding of one of today’s most powerful platforms. Having a profile is not even an advantage nowadays. It’s an expectation. Recruiters often pass over limited profiles.”
Tip: Populate your LinkedIn profile with not only titles and companies where you’ve worked, but also a summary of your passions and key accomplishments and responsibilities for each of your roles.
5. Staying Top-Of-Mind By Sharing Updates
Back in my days as a brand marketer, we were obsessed with ensuring our products had strong “top-of-mind awareness,” which was about being a brand that consumers think of when shopping your category. Awareness is the first step toward eventually driving purchase. Similarly, when it comes to your personal brand, you ideally want to be the first person someone thinks of if and when a relevant opportunity arises.
According to Patrick Ambron, CEO of the online reputation management company BrandYourself, LinkedIn can check off a lot of boxes when it comes to personal branding. “LinkedIn is a great place to establish your expertise and stay top of mind with your network.” Ambron recommends publishing at least one interesting status update per week about your industry as a great way to stay on people’s radars. “They’ll grow familiar with seeing your face every week along with an interesting tidbit–the online equivalent of grabbing coffee with everyone in your network every single week.”
Tip: Share an article, question, or observation related to one of your projects as a way of reminding people what you’re focused on in your career.
Proactively Maintaining Your Profile Can Pay Off
Regardless of how junior or senior you are in your career, LinkedIn offers a convenient, powerful way to build and maintain your personal brand. As is the case with any social network, maintaining an effective profile on LinkedIn isn’t easy. It takes energy and time. However, if you’re willing to follow these simple steps to share, contribute, and connect with other professionals in a meaningful way, your efforts can open up many new opportunities in your career.
Joseph Liu is a speaker, career change strategist, and host of the Career Relaunch podcast featuring stories of career reinvention. Follow him on Twitter & LinkedIn.