So you’re ready to get LinkedIn

It’s finally time to jump in with both feet.  Here’s the process, plain and simple, with a few important cautions:

  1. Go to
  2. In the box with the blue banner which reads “Join LinkedIn Today” add your First Name, Last Name, Email address and whatever password you want to use for LinkedIn.  This is not for entering your email password. If you want to use the same password as your email account, that is fine.  Or, you can create a different one.
  3. For your email, do not use your work email.  If your employment status suddenly changes, you may end up having problems accessing LinkedIn or updating your account.  Use your personal email or create a separate email for this specific use (I suggest one of the free hosts like Gmail.)  You can always add your work email later as a secondary email, so that you can receive notifications there if you like.
  4. Click “Join Now”

You are now a member!  LinkedIn will now lead you through some initial processes to help you get your profile set up and begin making connections.   Here are some important considerations:

  • You will have the opportunity to include a profile photo.  In most cases, this is a good idea.  LinkedIn was created for the purpose of helping people connect.  The reality is, people feel more connected when they can “see” each other.  If you want people that you meet or that you’ve worked with to accept your invitation to connect, you have a better chance if your photo is on your profile.
  • Profile photos can be a detriment, however, in some circumstances.  Never use a photo that appears unprofessional.  For example, you are in your bathing suit, or at a party with a drink in your hand, or are posing with your dog (unless you are in a profession that deals with animals).   Also, if you are worried about discrimination of some sort, you have to make the decision about whether your photo will hurt you more than it will help you. 
  • LinkedIn will offer to automatically “find contacts” using your email address book.   Unless you want most or all of the people in your address book to receive invitations to connect, I suggest bypassing this feature.  There are other methods to add connections which offer you more control.   You really need to populate your profile first anyway.

More on populating your profile with powerful content in the next post…

Want to know your brand?

Maybe you’re not yet sold on the idea that you have a “brand” and that you need to manage it.  Maybe you are.  Either way, the following exercise may be useful or insightful, or both:

1) Pick a “document” that purports to tell people about the professional you:  a resume, a bio, an online profile (on LinkedIn, say…)

2) Go to an online word cloud tool (try or google word cloud tool to find a similar tool)

3) Either cut and paste your selected text into the tool, or, point it toward your url

4) Let the tool create a word cloud for you

Now, the words that are the largest font size are the words that show up most frequently in your document.  The words that are the smallest show up the least frequently.  The tools are typically smart enough to filter out “the” and “a”. 

So, what are the 5 – 8 largest words in your word cloud?  Are these the “loudest” messages you want your audience to hear?  Because these are the “loudest” messages you’re sending.  At least in that particular document.    You could compare across documents to see how consistent your messages are.   

Try it.  Cool tools.  Easy to use.  Good food for thought.  Perhaps this exercise will inspire some serious thought about career direction and development.  Or perhaps just a serious re-write.