The “Account & Settings” screen, which is accessible from the top right-hand corner of your LinkedIn homepage, provides a wealth of options to change your profile and account settings. Here are some I find useful:
- Public Profile: By default, all your LinkedIn connections can see your LinkedIn profile, however, other LinkedIn users and search engines can only see your “public” profile. LinkedIn allows you to switch your public profile on or off. I do not see why you would want to switch it off completely – after all, networking is about being visible, but the Public Profile settings menu option also allows you to decide which sections of your LinkedIn profile you want to make public and which you want to keep private.Should you decide to activate your public profile, LinkedIn offers you a free “vanity” profile URL, e.g. http://ae.linkedin.com/in/martinkubler. A customised LinkedIn public profile URL makes it easier for people to find you on LinkedIn and looks better in your email signature or on your business cards.
- Status Visibility, Member Feed Visibility and Twitter Settings: A while ago, LinkedIn introduced status update messages, similar to Facebook or Plaxo. The Status Visibility settings menu option allows you to select who will be able to see your status updates messages. Your choices are to display them to your direct connections only, to your entire network (direct connections and their connections), or to everybody.The Member Feed Visibility settings menu lets you do the same for your personal network feed, which is similar to the “News Feed” in Facebook, i.e. it displays network updates from actions you have performed on LinkedIn to your connections, your network, everybody or nobody at all.
The Twitter Settings menu option lets you add one or more of your Twitter accounts. LinkedIn’s Twitter integration is very well done and lets you decide whether you want all your tweets displayed as LinkedIn status updates on your profile or only tweets you tagged with the #li hashtag. To keep within LinkedIn’s business networking theme, I prefer to only share business related tweets through my profile – for everything else there’s Twitter proper or Facebook.
- Contact Settings:The Contact Settings option together with the other menu options available in the Email Notifications section of LinkedIn’s Settings menu, allows you to define who can contact you on LinkedIn and in what manner. In the Contact Settings, you can also define what type of opportunities you are interested in, e.g. career opportunities, business deals, etc. To get the most out of LinkedIn, I suggest that you do not restrict your contact settings too much, though you may want to adjust your email notification settings to ensure you do not receive too many emails from your LinkedIn connections per day.
- Network Updates: This submenu lets you decide what you want to be notified about when it comes to your LinkedIn connections’ activities – you can adjust the settings for a variety of activities and only select the ones you genuinely want to read about on your LinkedIn home-screen.
- Email Addresses: I recommend adding all your active email addresses – this will make it much easier for people to find you and connect to you.
- Connections Browse:You can decide whether you would like all your connections on LinkedIn to be able to see who you are connected to or not. By default, you connections will always be able to see the details of all shared connections, i.e. LinkedIn users you both are connected to. I prefer to show my connection list to my network – my network is hand built and I am proud to be connected to a large variety of different people. I am happy to act as a facilitator and introduce people to each other, so it makes sense to let my connections see who else I am connected to.
- Profile Views and Viewing Profile Photos: Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn lets you know who has viewed your profile and you can decide between three settings when it comes to what traces you leave when viewing other LinkedIn users’ profiles: You can leave your full name and headline, only anonymous profile characteristics (e.g. “Someone in the managerial function in the hospitality industry in the United Arab Emirates”), or you can decide not to show other users that you have viewed their profiles at all.LinkedIn’s default setting is to only show anonymous profile characteristics. Being able to see who has viewed your profile can be extremely helpful; for example, it allows you to follow up with people who have viewed your profile but didn’t contact you afterwards. Say, you find that a recruiter has viewed your profile several times over the last few days, you might decide to add him/her to your network on LinkedIn or drop him/her a quick note to see whether there is anything of interest out there.
Other things you may want to give a try:
There is a lot more to LinkedIn than what I have mentioned so far. You may want to join a group, for example. LinkedIn’s Group Directory lists a seemingly endless number of different groups, from networking groups to alumni and social groups. There are a lot of very good hospitality industry related groups – I recommend HoteLIers as a good starting point; it has a lot of members and is well moderated so spam postings are rare. LinkedIn groups are an excellent way to tap into new networks or to stay in touch with what is going on in the industry and they are also a good way to hear about job vacancies.
It’s also worth checking out LinkedIn’s Answers, a depository of questions and answers spread across various categories. I have often found useful information in answers to questions from other LinkedIn users. Try and answer a couple of questions every now and again, too, but don’t just answer for the sake of answering, instead look at it as a way to “give back” to your industry and your connections.
Posting a question yourself can quickly generate a good number of useful answers from within your network as well as from other LinkedIn users. I find this extremely helpful in situations where I need a rough idea what other people think about a certain topic I’m currently working on, or when I’m stuck for ideas concerning solutions to problems I encounter at work.
Don’t forget to “close” questions you asked and to rate the answers – others have spend time to supply you with, hopefully, useful answers and I think it’s only fair if you take the time to close your questions and rate the answers.
Answering questions can earn you expertise – the user posting the question can select several “good” and one “best” answer from all the answers to his/her question and if your answer is selected as “good” or “best” you gain expertise points which show up in your LinkedIn profile together with links to your winning answer. This is an excellent way to gain visibility on LinkedIn and can get you noticed by other potentially useful LinkedIn users.