Your career success is dominated by connectivity, the flexibility and bilateral interaction with people you can reach, and who can reach you. That, in turn, means the number, speed and intensity with which you can communicate. That is power. This is where your use of LinkedIn as a means of connecting is critical.
What are the 5 key items for creating your profile?
1) Create a personal account rather than a business account. Personal accounts will allow you to place your name and significant additional information. Personal accounts are searchable which is essential to increasing your connectivity. LinkedIn is all about connecting and networking, so a personal account is their standard account. You may create a separate Business account, but this must be tied to a company profile and is primarily for advertising campaigns. Business accounts are not searchable at this time and cannot include a member profile link.
2) Use your professional degree in your title. Although LinkedIn prefers that you only use your name, they are tolerant of professional degrees and it provides a stronger impact on LinkedIn. Indicating you have a PhD, PharmD, MD, DO, MBA, MPH, PMP etc., can make your profile more easily searched. Simply add it at the end of your last name when entering as there is no separate space at this time for professional degrees. This is in addition to including the degrees when listing your educational experience.
3) Take the time to complete your profile. Complete the profile page with your name and degree, a headline describing your specialty and potential interests, a location and an industry. This takes just a few minutes. The rest can be done in multiple steps.
For industry, there is a specific drop down. Rather than listing yourself as academic, if you are seeking positions in pharmaceutical or healthcare, choose that as the designation. Adding a photograph creates more interest. Provide a background summary including what you are interested in from a business perspective. Then add specific employment experiences including education, PowerPoints, travel etc. These additions may be as elaborate or brief as you wish, but showcase and enhance your value to those individuals connecting and networking with you.
4) Place contact information that facilitates reaching you. Add a personal email address both in the summary section in the beginning, and at the end of your profile where LinkedIn asks you for a preferred contact method. Without an explicitly stated email address, it may be difficult for recruiters to reach you. Simply having an email address in your sign up profile is not sufficient. LinkedIn only displays that to your first degree connections. If you are soon to finish your degree or postdoc, or wish to be considered for new job opportunities more quickly, you may want to include a mobile phone number that will make it easier for recruiters to reach you during business hours.
5) Treat LinkedIn as strictly a professional business site. This is not for family, dating or socializing beyond business purposes. Your profile should reflect that. The overwhelming majority of people on LinkedIn act with the utmost deference and respect to their fellow members. LinkedIn takes strong action against material identified as spam and inappropriate messaging is extraordinarily rare. My personal experience with people wishing to contact me has been extremely positive, and I have over 27,000 direct connections exposing my profile to over 30 million members. So, relax and go for the networking!
Steven Levy MD is President of The Acoma Group and provides Executive Search, Business Development and Career Coaching in healthcare and the life sciences including pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device. You are welcome to connect with him on LinkedIn- please mention Biocareers. For business development / entrepreneurial or career coaching questions email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him directly at 203-423-9494.