Where Facebook is explicitly geared towards personal use, LinkedIn and Academia.edu focus on professional connections. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, and it allows you to build an online profile that features your experience and skills as well as to network with other users in a professional environment, so it provides a great way to connect with contacts from your work world. Academia.edu is essentially a sort of LinkedIn focused on the academic world, so it provides improved features for things like listing publications. Also – going back to our discussions of online presence – LinkedIn and Academia.edu profiles tend to feature high in Google searches, so a well-constructed profile can be a great way to develop your online brand.
Google+ is much more of a social network like Facebook. There’s quite a bit of debate around how heavily it’s used, but it’s clear that Google treats it positively when dealing with search results. If you have a gmail account, you quite possible already have a Google+ page. It’s worth a look, just to make sure it’s not a blank page with no info.
You’re not required to set up an account on either network to finish Things 10 or 11, but you’ll need an account to explore many of the tools’ features, and it’s a good way to improve your professional presence online. Pick one (or sign up for both!) and set up an account. You can always delete it later if you feel the need.
Getting an account on either tool is simple, and you can register from each tool’s home page. Make sure you fill in your profile fully. Think about the search terms you used in Thing 5 and whether you might like to include them here. Remember that these are professional networks, so your photo, taglines and activities should be those you’d be happy with employers and colleagues seeing. LinkedIn allows you to upload your CV straight into your account (with a chance to edit and format, of course!), which offers an easy way to get all your job information in.
Once you’ve signed up, try adding colleagues or other contacts. Successful social media use requires that you actively connect with people and give them something to interact with, rather than just setting up an account and leaving it. If you already have a profile but haven’t used it very much, you might think about these aspects next. You can use your email accounts to find ‘connections’. Don’t be worried about sending requests to contacts; it’s considered fairly normal. Try taking this a step further; rather than just sending a request to connect, send a message with a question or a message.
- LinkedIn offers groups, which allow you to join others based around a sector, place of work or other interest – for example, University of Oxford Alumni or those in this list of great groups for academics. You can also search for groups.LinkedIn also allows you to see who has viewed your profile, send private messages and give and ask for recommendation and skill endorsements.
- Academia.edu has less functionality, but it is geared towards academic activities. You can write update posts on your activities, upload papers and other documents which might include ‘grey’ literature such as conference papers as well as link to your journal articles. It can also tell you how many people have viewed your profile, what keywords they used to find you, and who is following your work. You can also follow the profiles of other scholars, which is useful to keep up to date with people’s publications.
- Many people find LinkedIn useful as a tool for job searching. Employers can post jobs but, more importantly, your profile can give you the opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself to potential employers. Having endorsements and recommendations can help. Try asking for a recommendation for your current or previous position.
As we mentioned, feel free to talk about all of this week’s things in one post, as they lend themselves to comparison and discussion. Did you choose to use one tool over the other? Do you think these tools offer a good way to present your professional profile, or do you prefer something else (a website, blog, etc.)?
If you use Facebook, do you feel that LinkedIn or Academia.edu are a suitable alternative space for professional activities, or do you find Facebook works just as well if not better for what you want to do?
Note that all of these tools can be useful, but they can also take up a lot of time. Is it better to have no profile at all than an out-of-date one?
Tag your post Thing 10 and Thing 11.