I was an early adopter of LinkedIn. I started in 2004 when I was working in Britain and I continue to use it for two reasons.
The first is to keep track of my professional profile where I keep an updated version of my curriculum vitae (CV). The second is to keep track of the network of professionals and entrepreneurs that I have worked and interacted with in the United States and Europe.
When I moved back to Singapore, LinkedIn was the perfect way for me to keep in touch with people in my professional circles.
It helped me to stay in touch with people in my network, as there is an increasing interest from the West in the Asian market.
It has become a location where I help to answer about 30 queries per year on professional matters, such as the setting up of companies and meetings with potential trusted partners in Asia.
Here are five best practices that have allowed me to use LinkedIn effectively.
1. Be honest about your credentials
The most important thing is to be clear about your industry and designation in your LinkedIn profile.
You should write about your experiences and interesting projects with important milestones reached during different periods in your career.
I usually update my profile every month if there are milestones or progress made in the role I am in.
When I see a change in a potential employee's update on his LinkedIn profile, I will check to see if he might be available. Through this process, I have managed to hire a few good employees for my current and past companies.
2. Do not connect with someone you have not met
Credibility is an important part of social capital. If you associate yourself with someone on the network whom you have not met, senior people will not take you seriously.
I tend to reject invitations from people I have not met or with whom I have not done any business.
I choose to connect only with those I know.
In my experience, particularly with important people, I am able to connect with them via LinkedIn if we have met or spoken to each other.
3. Endorsement is a privilege, not an entitlement
It is easy to give an endorsement and get one through your friends. My recommendation is that you should ask for one only if you have worked with someone for a year or more.
For employers, it is also important that you note the period of work between the person endorsed and the person who endorsed him. A year is a good gauge.
4. Update your status or share professional links
Sharing industry reports or updates about your company on LinkedIn keeps you engaged with other professionals in the same industry.
Usually, I share about two to three business articles a week and any updates about my company.
This will attract more people who might want to join your team or who have potential for partnerships or collaboration.
5. An effective hiring tool
For my company, Chalkboard, LinkedIn has been a great hiring aid. It helps us to identify potential candidates in Silicon Valley and get feedback on them from people who have worked with them and who are connected with us. Here's how:
First, we create a shortlist of 20 to 30 people for a specific role via LinkedIn Search. We reach them via mutual contacts and try to set up a meeting. The hit rate is about one in 10. We may ask our connections for an assessment of the candidates.
Finally, remember that it is important to have a face-to-face meeting with someone you are thinking of hiring.
Bernard Leong is the co-founder of Chalkboard, a mobile location-based advertising network provider