Your online reputation: Leveraging LinkedIn

Make the most of your LinkedIn account. Part 3 in our series on how to maneuver your professional reputation through Web 2.0.

Learning how to successfully maneuver your reputation through Web 2.0 is critical if you're planning on that long-term career.

Web 1.0 was essentially about the democratization of Web access, but as we've moved into Web 2.0, what we see is the democratization of participation, said Chuck Hamilton, virtual learning program manager for IBM Canada.

IT professionals are wise to remain cautious of the lure of self-expression. And while you may control who initially views your activities, you can't control what they do with that information. Nor can you decide to take it back.

But refusing to participate isn't the answer, as a Web presence is necessary to let potential employers and clients know that you exist. A quick Google search on your name will influence whether or not they even want to meet with you in the first place.

Yesterday, we revealed tips and strategies for marketing your professional image using all that Web 2.0 has to offer. Today, we focus on LinkedIn.

IT pros concerned about their online reputations should focus on LinkedIn first and foremost because it is aimed at the professional, according to John Carson, social media consultant for Echo Communications.

Your LinkedIn profile is also critical because of its high rank in Google search results, suggested Michael O'Connor Clarke, vice president at Thornley Fallis Communications.

"One of the things that you'll see very often when you Google an individual is the third or fourth result will be their LinkedIn page. If it's a businessperson or potential employer who's doing the search, that's probably the first link they're going to click," he said.

"Right there, they'll have a good feel for your background, what your Rolodex is like and they want to see if there's any recommendations or interesting connections," Clarke continued.

To ensure this first impression is a good one, fill out as much of your profile as possible. "Make sure you use all of the search tools that LinkedIn provides to find as many people as you can in your network and get connected to them. If you have past clients, past employers or past business associates that are willing to provide a reference, then do so," said Clarke.

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