Back in the days before Twitter and Facebook, if I ever thought of a joke, a clever pun or something nasty to say about a personality, I had no option but to switch on a PC, dial up to the Internet, login to my email service provider’s website, compose a message to everyone in my address book and send my wisecrack to all of them.
This is why my friends circle is really quite small. But now with Twitter, that past is history. Now when I think of something amusing, a public broadcast can be done effortlessly from my mobile phone within seconds.
For instance, just this very instant I thought of this: “Apparently this is the largest trade delegation from the UK to India in living memory. India must be careful. The last time they sent one, it took them forever to leave!”
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But social networks are about much more than just jokes or pithy sayings. They can also be tremendously useful for cubicle dwellers in the office.
For most office goers, one such important network is LinkedIn.com.
LinkedIn is a platform for individuals to network based on their professional interests and affiliations. If you are, say, a Linux expert or a consultant for thermal power plants, LinkedIn is the place to find people involved in similar activities. If you want.
As a result, LinkedIn is a great place to find three kinds of people: potential recruits, potential employers, and other people doing jobs similar to yours.
The last is useful when you want to do salary benchmarking. Send these “equals” an email saying your company is looking to hire. Ask them for salary details. When you receive numbers, and have confirmed that you are pathetically underpaid, forward to HR. Tell them that an applicant contacted you. Enjoy the ensuing awkwardness.
But simply registering on LinkedIn is not enough. You need to make sure your profile is attractive. It must make equals quiver in awe. And employers weak in the knees with desire.
So how should one go about creating the perfect LinkedIn profile? Here are a few pointers:
1. Picture perfect
Do not make the mistake of assuming that your Facebook profile picture will work on LinkedIn. A casual image of you sitting on a camel in Marrakech, in swimsuit, will not attract the right kind of employers.
Instead, you need to wear a suit (formal, not swim) and hold an imaginary ball in your hands. All serious business gurus do this. It exudes a sense of intellect. If picture size is a constraint, hold the imaginary ball close to your face, to one side. Then look to the top left and say “tomato”. Click! Instant, spontaneous wisdom.
2. Handsome headlines
On the site you can either use your latest designation as a headline, or use a custom phrase. Unless you have an impressive designation, always use a well-crafted phrase. So instead of using “Regional Marketing Manager— Drill Bits and Welding Electrodes” say something more creative. Example: “Hyperlocal Evangelist: Constructive and Destructive Intermediaries”.
However, be careful. First of all, make sure you are not so creative that other people in your office get offended. You don’t want your CEO thinking: “Hey! What does he mean Chief of the Office overseeing Execution???”
Don’t botch up designations. Don’t say “deputy part-time evangelist”.
3. Worthy work experience
Listing down your work history is often a trade-off between accuracy and optimism. Leave out too much and your gaps will show. Dress it up too much and you will come across fake.
The trick is to strike a balance. Highlight the good jobs you’ve done. If you have less than three years’ work experience, you are allowed to refer, with much gravity, to positions held in college. Avoid excessive precision. People will wonder why you worked for 11 companies in three years, or why a key achievement in your first job was “nearly completed probation period”.
4. Special interests
You may think that people ignore these fields on your profile. But, in fact, filling up your specialities thoughtfully can add impact. Most importantly, however, it can make your profile pop up during Internet searches.
Use specialities that people will be Googling for. Such as: “3G licence fee recouping, rapid stadium building, Greek economy restructuring, responsible oil rig management, wardrobe malfunction, download free music here, Angelina Jolie” and so on.
5. Status symbolism
Finally, LinkedIn allows you to post status updates. Kindly avoid using this like Twitter. The idea is to impress people with your professionalism, not stalk Priyanka Chopra. You must entice potential employers with:
“Spent all day deleting job offers from inbox.”
“Looks like I will spend another night in office. Woo hoo!”
“Tired of depositing bonus cheques. :( When will boss realize I work for the passion and not for the money?”
Surely, you have your own LinkedIn secrets? Send email.
Cubiclenama takes a weekly look at the pleasures and perils of corporate life. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org