Bartleby: Making the most of LinkedIn
How to survive and thrive on the business world’s favourite social network
Social media and career development typically don’t mix.
Doom-scrolling Elon Musk’s tweets or getting sucked into the latest TikTok craze do not exactly enhance your work prospects.
Unless, that is, the social network in question is LinkedIn.
Founded in 2003 in Silicon Valley as a platform for professional networking, and purchased in 2016 by Microsoft for $26bn, it has become a fixture of corporate cyberspace, with more than 800m registered users worldwide.
Its 171m American members outnumber the country’s labour force.
High-school students are creating profiles to include with their college applications.
The chances are you probably have one, too.
How do you make the most of it?
For those who have yet to link up with LinkedIn, the first, critical, step is fashioning your profile.
First, choose a slick photo: think visionary resolve meets empathetic authenticity.
Next, list your educational and professional history.
Remember, nothing is too trivial.
Went to a selective kindergarten?
Say so; it illustrates that you were a winner from a tender age.
As you draw up your list, make sure that it reads in the most deadpan way possible: no adjectives, no personal touch.
The mechanical and the matter-of-fact is at a premium.
Armed with your profile, you can get down to business and begin creating your network.
You need to have 500 or more connections in your profile to be taken seriously.
To achieve this, you need to step out of your comfort zone and accost complete strangers.
Do not treat it as you would inviting classmates you do not know to your birthday party, which in real life makes you look desperate.
On LinkedIn, cringeworthy is not part of the lexicon.
Your columnist, a guest Bartleby, has amassed 6,315 connections, of whom she actually knows maybe 300.
Remember that cousin Dimitris your mother always mentions on the phone, who works at Bain Capital in Boston?
What better way than an innocuous LinkedIn invite to reconnect—and get a toehold in his private-equity network.
And that man who sat next to you on the red-eye back from Chicago?
Even if you recall only his first name and the company he works at, LinkedIn’s algorithm should be able to let you track him down with relative ease.