LinkedIn is the most popular professional networking platform. Professional because it is almost exclusively used for business networking purposes (much like Xing, see the last chapter of our eBook). This does not make LinkedIn a niche network though. It is a fast growing platform and it is also very profitable as a business. It continues to innovate and acquire (for example Slideshare). As the most popular professional network, many people use it as the digital substitute for business card exchange Having a presence on LinkedIn is quasi mandatory to connect in a variety of industries. Recently, LinkedIn has also grown into a content network, with tons of high profile articles being shared every day, and more and more companies setting up channels outside the myriad of groups for all kinds of purposes, from alumni networks to localization expert exchanges. LinkedIn also works heavily in the recruiting sector, so especially for those looking for options, having a virtual and polished CV up on LinkedIn is an integral part of personal branding for success.
Your LinkedIn profile is most and foremost your virtual CV or business card. This is the place where everyone just shows off accomplishments. LinkedIn also adds some really smart things to it, like endorsements from colleagues or business partners and fields for you to add portfolio items (such as presentations, certificates, etc). Make sure your profile is accurate and complete. Put yourself in the shoes of someone looking at it. A missing picture, no information for many years in your life, all that raises questions. As with many of these sorts of channels, don’t be present or be really present. You don’t have to meticulously put every moment of your life out there, but as with a “regular” CV, make sure you portray yourself in a coherent and complete manner. Tell your story, put the facts out there, add some character. There is plenty of room here for you to personalize the profile, add contact information, education or activities.
Once you have set up, you can add a number of people you already know. Start with friends, colleagues and close business relations. You can ask them for some endorsements while you are at it. For example if you worked as a translation projects manager at some company, add your direct superior of that job on LinkedIn, and ask for an endorsement. Most people love doing these endorsements, not only because they (hopefully) are nice people, but also because that gives them some additional visibility as well (and shows them off as credible managers of other people).
We recommend that you do not randomly add people to your network on LinkedIn but really only people you’ve had something to do with. Especially if you connect your address book with LinkedIn, it will really find everyone you might have possibly be in contact with throughout the years, that does not necessarily mean these are meaningful connections in your life.
Not exactly original, but LinkedIn also has groups (open and closed ones). It makes a lot, we repeat, a lot, of sense to join groups. These are some of the best ways to network and gain visibility. There are groups for pretty much all kinds of interests. As a translator, there are a number of rather large groups on translation, localization, internationalization, global communications, marketing, linguistics, language technology and related fields. Some are independent, but most of them are somewhat affiliated with a company or association or maybe a university. Just do a search and have a look around.
Join a number of groups that you want to explore and just observe for a while. As with other networks, it pays to join existing discussions, answer questions, help out and slowly get started posting content on your own. One really important reason to join groups also, is that it is an additional step closer to possible contacts that you can connect with. On LinkedIn’s free version, it sometimes is a bit hard to connect with people (that you might know in real life but LinkedIn has no evidence of you being connected). So being in a same group with someone could facilitate your networking ability without having to upgrade your plan.
Groups also put a ton of information at your disposal. You will be very close to the pulse of the community. There are a lot of discussions you can subscribe to, which opens up an additional source of continuous information and education for you.
There are also official channels similar to Facebook pages that you can subscribe to (or start your own). We believe this feature is still not quite matured on LinkedIn, but it might make sense at an early stage to follow some companies or organizations you are really interested in.
Content and Sharing
Just as on other networks, the links or content posted gets more visibility if it gets interaction. LinkedIn also emails a lot of information to others by default. For example if you change your job, or have a work anniversary, LinkedIn will encourage others to congratulate you. Other content, like posting links, is a more open question. If a lot of people in your close networking comment on it or like it, it might stick in the visible area of news feeds of others for longer. This is something you have to experiment with also. LinkedIn personal networks usually are less extensive than those on Facebook and more interest-driven so interaction can rise quickly, or not exist at all. If you are only surrounded by other translators there with similar interests, this might work out rather well. Another thing (which might change) is that as long as LinkedIn is not the primary content sharing network of choice (the most popular is Facebook), it will play into your hands being a frequent sharer.
Conclusion: Networking tricks with LinkedIn
While this isn’t as extensive an introduction to LinkedIn, what is important to consider is how the mechanics of LinkedIn might work for you in terms of branding. LinkedIn is a professional network, so you do not have to stand out from a random crowd to reach the right crowd, you are already mostly part of “your” crowd, i.e. people with similar interests. This can speed up how soon you really get traction in terms of actual interaction with others. However at the same time LinkedIn has a business concept that relies on growth and the ability to sell its platform access to recruiters. LinkedIn will always encourage you to share more and post job news, keep your profile updated and find more people that you work with, so it will in the end be more capable of analyzing its users more accurately. A LinkedIn user with outdated job information has little value to a platform which only purpose is peer-recruiting and brand building. Therefore let’s repeat the core message: If you are present, do it right. LinkedIn can work extremely well in professional contexts if your profile is at least considerably complete and polished. You will build a network rather quickly and joining a few groups will really get you in touch with lots of people and ideas. Harness that, it is a great resource.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article! We also published a Beginners Guide to Google+ for Translators before and you can find it here. Stay tuned for the full eBook “Self Marketing for Translators”.