By Petros Kkolas
Stumbling through LinkedIn is the usual professional who swiftly scrolls through his daily updates, what, or why would someone choose to engage? Or simply, why should a professional read this? Is it worth his time, effort, or energy? Well, it does if you are still, as I am, a student in the vast world of social media; a lifetime learner who doesn’t consume his brain over yet another scientific “how-to” report on efficient use of LinkedIn but cares to read clear facts through a simple story. My story.
So, if you are still reading let’s go back to 2009 when I made my first contact with the world of LinkedIn.
I registered most of my professional details including my early stages of experience in all the fields with which I have been involved. Surprisingly, I realised that I couldn’t find any people I actually knew in this social network. It was literally a social network full of strangers. Compared to Facebook, where I made sure to add everybody I knew since elementary school, every LinkedIn search amplified my professional loneliness. Overwhelmed by a network that seemed to turn me down more viciously than any woman I ever met, I quit. I forgot everything about LinkedIn — and like many of you out there, at one point I even forgot my username and password. LinkedIn was really useless to me, as I couldn’t even understand the “levels” of friendship (1st, 2nd, 3rd) that LinkedIn makes such a fuss about.
Years have elapsed since I began bumping onto the LinkedIn logo in every blog and website I visited. LinkedIn was becoming a hot topic of discussion. Then I realised that this may be “the next big thing”, not for gossiping (i.e. Facebook) but for actually doing something for your professional “wellbeing”. I bought a book entitled “The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success” by Wayne Breitbarth. I spent hours studying it and trying to understand everything on LinkedIn. As I unravelled the potential of the material before me, my curiosity was sparked. This thought kept drifting in my head: “If I can use LinkedIn efficiently, then I can land my dream job in the UK.” So I started spending hours every week to develop my LinkedIn profile to the most minute detail, not because I have O.C.D. but because I realise the power of marketing yourself.
At least 3 years after completing my profile I am confident that the amount of time invested is paying me back, as I can declare LinkedIn to be a major part of my professional life.
Through this professional network I discovered Michael de Groot (stayingaliveuk.com). I searched Michael’s activities about LinkedIn and I thought that he is the man I was looking for to give a presentation regarding the importance of a Professional Digital Identity. The presentation was for the committee of Graduates and Students of the Institution of Civil Engineers West Midlands as part of our annual Chartership requirement in Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Michael accepted my invitation. The workshop took place in February 2016 at the WSP|Parson Brinckerhoff offices in Birmingham. Michael gave a stunning presentation on the growth of Social Media including the projected numbers for the future, which actually look very promising. One important fact is that the total population of the earth is 7.395 billion, and the number of people active on social media is 2.307 billion, which in simple mathematics means one-third of the earth’s population are on social media. Well, for me this fact is really important because one-third of the earth’s population has chosen to make their life digital and interact in this digital environment. On the other hand, one of the main visions of LinkedIn is to include every single job in the planet by 2024. And it is not limited only to that, but also to match each member of LinkedIn with the right job, not in a cliché manner as it may sound, but to reverse the procedure. Which means that in the next few years the jobs on LinkedIn will match the right candidates, i.e. who has the right skills at the right time. That is not only a promise but is something which started happening with the “LinkedIn Jobs” app, which sends you a notification every time a new search is available.
So, why should a professional use LinkedIn to build his career development?
Key points of LinkedIn Usage
In my opinion it is really important to identify the way Social Media is growing and how it is currently transforming the way we communicate and process the day-to-day information we receive from people who surround us. This can be roughly schematised below:
- Ensure that you follow the leaders of your industry who have concrete experience and an opinion that can influence and change the way in which the industry is advancing.
- Connect with your colleagues and people with a similar background as yours, as in this way their connections can become your 2nd degree connections.
- Join and participate in groups that you are interested in, as in this way you can justify your opinion on a specific discussion.
- Publish your achievements and awards in your work environment; this can vary from being the employee of the month or winning a 5-a-side tournament.
- Follow your University or School Page as you can connect with the Alumni Community, and in this way you can stay in touch with people that may work on the other side of the world.
- Update your Headline and Summary sections regularly so your profile is live and updated and not a static page of text.
- Approach LinkedIn as your complete CV, and when applying for any positions you can drag and drop your relevant experience to cater to the position you want to land.
- Send personalised invitations to people you want to connect with as this can make you stand out among the competition and others can treat your invitation in a more acceptable way, rather than ignoring you completely.
- Read articles on the Pulse section for areas you are interested in, as this can help you improve your knowledge.
- Endorse your connections for the skills you know they possess.
- Ask current and past colleagues to recommend you and to highlight the difference you made while working with them.
- Include pictures and certifications in support of your experience.
In his presentation Michael referred to the essential mindset which all of us need to have in the 21st Century. This is the Entrepreneur Mindset. To be an Entrepreneur you are required to possess a set of skills, which can lead to the success or failure of the venture you are working on. Being an entrepreneur does not mean that you will have always to be working towards the “next big thing”, but to be working towards changing yourself. An entrepreneurial mindset includes the following: belief, determination, courage, risk taking, vision, resiliency, learning, inspiration, discipline, adaptability, instinct, and passion. I am sure that each one of us, more or less, has experienced each one of the above-mentioned traits at some point in our career.
Keep an eye on LinkedIn because it can be your way to a better future…
About the author
Petros Kkolas GMICE is a Design Engineer at WSP in the UK and the Chair of ACE Progress Network – Midlands. (ACE is a Member Organisation of EYE). Petros is a Highways Engineer and currently is working on the biggest project in the UK, High-Speed Rail 2. Apart from engineering Petros is keen in motivating others to achieve their goals and he is focusing on helping Engineers to develop their Personal Brand. Together with Tryfon Ampartzis CEng (ex-Task Force) delivered a 3-hour workshop on Personal Branding for Consultants and Engineers at the EYE Bristol 2017 Conference. Check out Petros’s LinkedIn profile.