LinkedIn is to the business world what Facebook is to the rest of it: a social networking site where individuals can exchange information and connect with others they know. Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is primarily used to connect with colleagues, clients, and other business professionals, working to share work-related details and data that would not be shared on a network such as Facebook. LinkedIn simply takes the age old practice of networking within the business world and takes it to the Internet, allowing those who use the network to quickly and reliably build a network of connections within their industry.
While there is little question that LinkedIn can serve an incredibly valuable purpose, it is essential for those who opt to use this service to behave ethically when conducting activities on LinkedIn. Failure to do so could actually hurt the career of the user, should a business individual find out that an unethical behavior has occurred. Beyond the potential ramifications, businessmen and women are also expected to follow certain ethical and moral codes, both in their professional and personal lives. This is simply because it is the right thing to do.
One of the areas that can be a bit tricky to navigate is Recommendations. Recommendations serve as a way to give potential employers and clients a snapshot of who you are and how you operate. While there is absolutely no issue in asking a satisfied client or a previous employer to leave their feedback, you do not want to ask someone who is merely a friend to write this recommendation. For example, some LinkedIn users may be tempted to exchange recommendations for an acquaintance and friend, leaving stellar feedback about how wonderful the individual in question is at what they do. This is not only a breach of ethics, but it won’t give others a clear idea of what the candidate is capable of in a professional environment.
Instead of opting for this easy route, ask previous employers to leave feedback. If you haven’t had many previous positions, it may instead be valuable to ask a professor or supervisor from an internship to leave a recommendation. If you plan to ask one of these individuals for input, perform a precursory search on LinkedIn to see if they are already using the network. This can help cover your bases and avoid lengthy ordeals teaching someone how to use LinkedIn.
It’s also important to operate in a subtle manner on LinkedIn. Much like in the offline business world, LinkedIn is not the place to broadcast that one is looking for any available job. Instead, LinkedIn is about building connections that could potentially lead to a position with a firm who is hiring. Make your prime focus connecting with others. This will help to eliminate the frustration of not finding a job immediately, and also make you look much better to others on LinkedIn. If you do connect with someone who knows of an available job, at that point you will be able to target your attention on the job hunt where it belongs.
You also want to focus on connecting with people in an authentic and genuine manner. When adding someone on LinkedIn, send them a quick message explaining why you would like to connect. Don’t make this a generic message simply stating you want to be connected, but explain how you came across their profile and why you think it would be a good idea to connect on LinkedIn. By following some of these tips, you will make certain your activity on LinkedIn remains ethical and you are operating in a respectable manner.
Frederick is a blogger, tech geek interested in Site2You and music