Here’s everything you need to know about the social media platform you may not have mastered yet.


At some point, you’ve probably received an email invite to join LinkedIn. People often respond by saying they don’t need yet another social media page to manage. “I’ve got Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and that’s all I want!” But if you’re not using LinkedIn, you’re probably doing your professional career a disservice.

LinkedIn is a handy way for professionals to network with other professionals and companies, and it’s a great way to acquire professional resources and industry news.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is less recreational; it doesn’t focus on pictures, apps and statuses. Instead LinkedIn is driven by business networking and information services. It’s how companies find qualified prospects through detailed profiles and endorsements. LinkedIn is essentially a social website all about your career. It’s where you learn, network and share professional information.

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What are connections?
On LinkedIn, you add individuals to your network by creating connections. However, there are restrictions as to how you can add a new person. Connections are broken down into first, second and third tiers with rules for each level. First-tier connections are people you know, either from your own contact list or address book. Second-tier connections are one connection away, like having a friend of a friend or someone you may know from a group as an acquaintance. Think of it like playing "Six-Degrees of Kevin Bacon," except you're the star.

You can make direct connections from the “people you may know” drop-down option on the top right of the LinkedIn header next to your profile picture. You might not be able to connect directly to a second- or third-tier connection without a reference from someone who is a connection of both of you or knowing an individual’s email address. A third-tier connection is not in your circle of influence at all, so you cannot connect to them without an introduction from a connection, prior business relations or an email address.

What should I put on my profile page?
Your profile page is the first connection a company or potential client has with you. Therefore, make it as complete as possible with information similar to a resume. Also include a quality professional picture, not a selfie. An action picture would stand out from the many professional “bio” pictures. Utilities might have a profile page with a company page, which includes background information for the community or future companies that might do business with the utility.

Related: 7 Strategies for Happy Employees

Additionally, LinkedIn profiles also have the following sections:

  • Post
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Honors and awards
  • Test scores
  • Patents
  • Supported organizations
  • Articles and publications

Your profile also contains a “Skills and Endorsements” section where your connections can verify what you've mentioned in your profile. The more your skills are endorsed, the higher the placement in this section of the profile. You can delete a skill from your profile if you do not think it is an accurate representation of your abilities.

Recommendations are also a profile power boost, because your connections can write about their experience working with you. Most recommendations are provided by request of the profile holder, but it is good etiquette to return the favor. Recommendations are very valuable to the profile and you as a networker. Most people do business with someone they know, like and trust. Recommendations help build trust and prove your competency as a professional.

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What are interests?
Interests on the LinkedIn site consist of Companies, Groups, Pulse (latest news), Education (college portal) and SlideShare (a company acquired by LinkedIn that lets users share Microsoft PowerPoint presentations).

Pulse provides new content from companies or individuals that you follow (Your News), Top Posts (from all of LinkedIn) or Discover (searchable news portal). Once you set up a newsfeed, you can share happenings on your site or in a group.

Groups are communities where like-minded professionals post original or new items, ask for help for items related to the group, or promote jobs or products in a special section of the group. Once you are in a group, you can make connections with individuals who might be able to comment on your specific situation. Some groups you may want to check out and join include:

What are company profiles?

Company profiles give a utility, agency or private business an opportunity to build a community. An active company profile can provide relevant company information to followers, and should be part of a social media strategy.

Many utilities, associations and firms use company profiles as an addition to door-knockers, public fairs and emergency management phone calls. In addition, utilities can share tips about what materials to flush, flood safety tips and many more concerns for the public. A company profile will also provide a list of employees within the company that are using LinkedIn and can assist the public with information sharing or making requests to the right person. 

Other considerations for LinkedIn

LinkedIn also has additional services such as a job board, which is used by job seekers and job providers. Having an updated, complete profile will attract the right company, and it is simple to post a job or answer a posting.

Targeted advertising is available for utilities and companies that want to share a marketing message. A separate business account must be created to manage ad campaigns and track response. All ads support video and text.

If you’re not on LinkedIn, now is the time to consider joining. You’ll tap into professional resources you didn’t know existed.

Your professional life will thank you. 

About the Author

Sheldon Primus is CEO of Utility Compliance Inc., based in Port St. Lucie, Florida, which helps utilities in industrial pretreatment and risk management program compliance, water and wastewater CEU training, as well as occupational safety program development and OSHA outreach training for general industry and construction. He can be reached at sheldon@utilitycompliance.com or 888/398-0120.


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