We are using LinkedIn more and more. For executives, managers, and senior professionals it is a personal marketing tool that should not be missed. However, a few recent clients have expressed trepidation about having their profile on LinkedIn when they are currently employed.
Imaginary or Real Risk?
I am absolutely certain that in this big world of ours, there remain many bosses who have not kept pace with the evolution of how people are able to connect online and how some online social networks can facilitate offline interaction. Or more to the point, have not bought into the new realities. That is too bad. But not surprising.
That balance between keeping your head down and not risking the ire of your manager vs. what I call the career management imperative has always been an issue. Most people have erred, in my humble opinion, on the side of caution and not networking too much, if at all.
LinkedIn.com is a business tool, and an excellent representative of online social networking. It facilitates professional networking in addition to recruiting, sales, business development, public relations, market research and competitive intelligence. And of course, there is a strong element of personal marketing and expanding one’s options.
The real question isn’t whether an employer or manager would be justified in reacting negatively to an employee having a LinkedIn profile. I don’t think they are justified, but my opinion doesn’t matter in this case. Or whether there is some risk to using LinkedIn. I am sure there is.
And I suggest that the real question isn’t whether you should or shouldn’t use LinkedIn in the face of this risk. If you have an interest and a desire to manage and build your network, I think you should.
Tips for Managing LinkedIn Risk
So, the real issue comes down to how you should go about doing it. And with that in mind, here are some tips for using LinkedIn when you perceive that your current boss or employer may react negatively:
- Be prepared to defend yourself and the tool. Let’s assume the worst. That your boss notices that you are on LinkedIn and hits you with a negative comment or censure. Have your argument prepared in advance. Think about how this can benefit your company and current role. Talk about how ubiquitous a tool it is in the business community. Describe the recruiting benefits and other benefits. Invite your boss to connect with you.
- Adopt your current employer’s point of view when selecting and editing the content under your current job / employer. Stay focused on the most positive, professional description of what you do. Avoid talking about what you have fixed, changed or turned around in your current role. In fact, you are representing your employer with your LinkedIn profile, so do it well.
- Provide enough information to make your profile effective. Dig deep on the summary section to paint a picture of your offering to the marketplace (without wording it as if you are looking for work). Don’t skimp on your skills and expertise. In fact, if your boss ends up reading your profile, you may enhance their perspective of you.
- Don’t select “Career Opportunities” under Opportunity Preferences if you are really concerned.
- Build a strong network. Yes, a strong and large network may make an employer nervous. But on the other side of the coin…You can show how it can come in handy for competitive intelligence, business development and the attraction of high quality talent to the organization. In fact, use the network in your job in a meaningful way and you should dispel any concerns. The quality of your network increases your value in the marketplace, and for the smart employer, that will make them value you more.
Here’s the reality: You don’t need to advertise that you are open to new opportunities. A strong profile and a strong network have a way of helping you attract and develop leads and opportunities. That is based on what you have done. The organizations for which you have worked. And the quality and size of your network.
So, we will continue to recommend LinkedIn and assist our clients with the development of their profiles.