Just like other websites, LinkedIn can be both a positive and a negative. It is both true that it could kick-start a great career, but could also have negative consequences of a future career. Perhaps it will be a beneficial way to spend your time, while it could also be a leech on your time for no benefit. However without trying the website, you will never know whether the benefits for you are going to be positive or negative.
An analogy that LinkedIn has been compared to is that of sunbathing. On one hand, you could obtain glowing skin that is much healthier for the experience. On the other hand, you could find yourself developing a risk of cancer. Without having tried it, you will never know. The same stands for LinkedIn and other related websites. You always have the option of deleting your account if you end up making bad relationships with important contacts: as long as you are sensible, you might find that joining LinkedIn was the best thing you have ever done for your career.
Is LinkedIn as powerful as people say it is?
People up and down the country talk about LinkedIn in hushed tones, claiming that it is where the biggest and most powerful leaders in the world of business converge to hire talented young people for high-paying jobs. While we should not scorn the potential usefulness of LinkedIn, it is not the holy grail of business: the people who regularly use LinkedIn are unlikely to be top professionals at multinational corporations, but rather smaller businesses who need to find talented young people to fill their companies with.
There are certainly a lot of pretenders on the website, but that’s true of all forms of social media. Without trying, you will never know who you might possibly meet; even those who are unimportant now could become very powerful connections in the future, and end up proving invaluable.
Look for mutual benefits
LinkedIn works around the concept of mutual benefit: you want a job, and the people looking to hire you need your skills. Make friends who you can benefit from, but also who can benefit from you – they might want to impress their bosses by finding the next rising star of the business world, and so are much more likely to put in a good word for you at the next hiring meeting. Never scorn the benefits of having friends on LinkedIn: they could be the ones who lead to you getting the job.
Gain knowledge about your sector
A lot of business success comes from being able to use your experiences to your advantage, and LinkedIn is a way to do that. What you have been taught in business school is great, but it is likely to lack practical applications; after all, the theory of business is far removed from the actual practices of a successful business.
LinkedIn is the way for you to learn what your sector is really like. Your teachers have brought you so far, but to move to the next step you need to gain first-hand experience and contacts from the business world. In the same way that drama teachers won’t have been to Hollywood, business teachers haven’t worked for conglomerates earning millions of dollars – the people on LinkedIn may well have, and can provide you with the vital experience of the business world.
As previously noted, there will be pretenders on the website that are not worth your time, but others will have the experience that you crave. The more contacts you make, the more likely you are to find someone who knows their business and can give you valuable guidance. In many ways, LinkedIn is an opportunity you cannot afford to pass on.
You might lack experience, but you can still show them what you can do
Coming straight from college is a difficult way to get into business – most employers want you to have past experience to prove that you are just as good as you say you are. However in the business world, experience is much more than simply having been employed by a large company: if you can show that you have used your initiative to make connections and advance your own cause without needing to be helped up in the world, you have shown exactly how much of a benefit you could be to their company. Never underestimate the impact you can have on your potential employers by using LinkedIn.