Unlocking the power of LinkedIn® to Advance Your Career
By: Meha Jha, Emerson Flow Solutions Refining Industry Marketing Manager
Our lives and decisions are becoming more data driven with technology providing us feedback loops for almost everything we do. We have smart watches that can monitor and trend our stress levels, sleep cycles, and steps. Even watching TV is no longer the same. We rely on streaming services like Netflix to advise us on what to watch next based on our historical viewing patterns. Our smart watches, phones, and TVs might start to feel like they know us better than we even know ourselves. But the digitization of our lives doesn’t stop there; even our industries are seeing a shift in how we conduct business. We are in the next industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, where manufacturers are digitizing operations across the value chain and looking to unlock hidden data to make better business decisions. Machine learning, artificial intelligence, smart field devices, and data analytics are becoming new strategies and tools to solve business problems. Just like unlocking and using data at home and at work to better guide decisions we make, we should also be unlocking data to better help us manage our careers. This is where LinkedIn® can help.
LinkedIn® has been traditionally viewed as a professional social media platform for capturing our professional network, displaying an online resume, and applying for jobs. As a result, LinkedIn® often gets utilized only when we are looking for a job or not at all. However, like our smart devices at home or in the field, LinkedIn® has become a business to business (B2B) powerhouse of information that we can mine and monitor to help us advance our careers. Unlocking the value of LinkedIn® can help us improve current work performance, gain visibility, and align our work and professional development to help us future-proof and advance our careers. Here is how -
Monitoring Market and Industry Trends
LinkedIn® has become one of the top B2B marketing platforms. As a result, many businesses post content on LinkedIn®. If you follow market research firms and industry publications on LinkedIn®, they are typically posting articles and industry news that can keep you up to date on what is going on in your space. Regardless of job function and level, high level industry trends have implications and impacts across an organization. For example, much of the market trend content you can find on LinkedIn® for refining and petrochemical companies focuses on IMO 2020 released by the International Maritime Organization, carbon footprint reduction, digital transformation, and peaking fuel demand. These trends can better help you understand and align your capital investments and projects to comply with these trends or become agile to respond to future demand. The information provided isn’t just on the trend itself, but often includes content about how other operating companies or technology vendors are responding to these trends and challenges. The content is typically packaged with best practices and technology or service solutions for adapting operations or solving operational challenges. Knowing market trends can help us future-proof our careers by learning what we need to do to adapt our skillsets or knowledge. The content provided can also help us solve current day-to-day and future business challenges.
Company and Competitor News
Many companies have company pages on LinkedIn® where they post company updates and news. Following your own company page can help you understand the company vision, cultural values, and priorities. This information can help you align your future jobs and current work to the company’s top priorities often indicated by product development, acquisitions, and other investments that are reported on these pages. Understanding the priorities for investment can help you build better business cases and project justifications by defining projects that tie into business priorities. Additionally, companies often post fun company news such as volunteering or employee resource group efforts that are happening at different sites. These posts can help you see other opportunities to be involved at your company or in the community or can enable you to start an event or group at your site. Involvement in company volunteering and employee resource groups gives you opportunities to develop leadership skills and build a network outside of your current team.
Following your competitors’ news is just as important as following your own company’s communications. Following your competitors helps you build competitive intelligence. If you are in a product development or sales role, you’ll want to follow your competitors to see product launch news, acquisitions and/or markets they are focused on.
Building Your Personal Brand
One of my favorite sayings is that “LinkedIn® is a place for selling not summarizing.” LinkedIn® should be a tool for building your personal brand. If you are in technical sales or consulting, it can be a place to showcase expertise and generate leads. LinkedIn® offers a space to write blog posts, link articles, videos, or websites to your profile. As long as the content you share does not include proprietary information and/or has appropriate company and customer approvals, LinkedIn® can be a great distribution avenue for positioning yourself as a thought leader in sharing your expertise and building credibility. LinkedIn® has a multiplier effect, unlike other social media channels. If someone in your network likes your post it typically becomes visible to your connections’ networks resulting in a reach that can be sometimes double and triple the amount of your network.
Measuring Your Personal Brand
LinkedIn® can not only help you build your personal brand but can measure it as well. I like to view your personal brand as your marketability. Your personal brand is important for helping you capture future jobs. LinkedIn® can provide feedback on how your personal brand is viewed externally. Below is a list of metrics you can get from LinkedIn® and what they can indicate about your brand strength. Based on how these metrics are trending, you can make adjustments to ensure your profile is being found, your experience is relevant to recruiters, and you are being targeted for jobs that match your experience or interests. Metrics like the suggested jobs or frequency of in-mails can be used to not only assess your brand, but the health of the job market. By monitoring this information, you can see which companies are hiring and what types of jobs are in demand.
Strength of Network
LinkedIn® can also help you assess the strength of your network. If you click on the network icon on your LinkedIn® ribbon, you can search your network by location, company, school, industry, and job function. LinkedIn® will give you the number of people in your network that fit the search criteria. These numbers serve as indicators for how diverse and deep your network is. Quality of network is of course extremely important as well and can’t be gauged by LinkedIn®, but the breadth of your network and gaps can be assessed with LinkedIn® if you are active about capturing your network. Being known (your network) and how you are known (your brand) are both important for advancing your career. Just like staying in touch with your friends via social media, if you are active on LinkedIn®, it is another avenue to reinforce the consistency of your brand to your network.
Be LinkedIn® to Your Career
With data from our smart devices, we can drive behavioral change or optimize what we do. This data can bring us clarity and make life more efficient for us. The same is true of how we should view and use LinkedIn®: as a digital tool to help us manage our careers. Unlocking and understanding the value of the information on LinkedIn® and what we can display on LinkedIn® can help us make better career and business decisions today and for the future. It’s time to get smarter with your career and link into all the data that is out there to help you make better career and business decisions.