Linked In is the definitive social network for professionals.  It is the world’s largest professional network with 300 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe.  Linked In is also a place for companies and organizations to connect with people and prospects.  You may quickly find a discussion with peers turns into a solicitation from marketers or vendors.

As a safety professional, with little time to spend on social media, how to do you use Linked In to your advantage?networking

Be the Editor of Your Update Feed

Your news feed can be a great tool to help you stay up to date on colleagues, and receive meaningful information from organizations and peers.  If cluttered, your news feed can include a lot of nonsense information.  Do you really need to see a cat photo with an inspirational quote from a person you don’t remember meeting in person, ever? Probably not.

If you feel that you don’t need updates from all 700 Linked In connections you can easily remove their updates from your feed by holding your mouse over the update time stamp in the upper right-hand corner.  The time stamp will magically become a drop down – click “I Don’t Want to See This” to permanently remove updates.  Made a mistake?  Move your cursor over your profile photo in the top right of your homepage and select Privacy & Settings. Click the Account tab in the bottom left, next to the shield icon. Under the Settings section, click Manage home page content you are hiding. Click the Hidden tab at the top of the page. Click Show updates next to the connection whose updates you’d like to see.

To remove updates from an organization, stop following the company.

Clean-Up Your Groups and Use Email to Filter

It’s tempting to join every group on LinkedIn.  After all, you don’t want to miss a riveting discussion.  But, groups and “discussions” can quickly become sales pitches from marketers and vendors.  Join a few select groups that offer meaningful discussions and content.  Even content from vendors can be beneficial if it’s the right subject (you’re reading this, right?).

When you join a group, take the time to set-up your email preferences.  A once a week email that highlights the top information helps you be selective about what you read and respond to.

What’s Really Out there for the Safety Professional?

If you search for “safety professional group” you’ll find over 350 options.  The discussions on LinkedIn can be thought provoking or to put it bluntly, downright amusing – especially when one person is trying to outsmart another.    Hang out in enough groups, and it won’t take you long to discover that there is a short list of “thought leaders” that seem to be everywhere in the world of EH&S.  They post a lot of content and loaded questions; most seem to be  looking for their next sale or a publishing deal.    Finding and getting involved in the right groups is key; one where you can post your questions, get insight from other professionals, and learn what the current trends are in safety.  You can also be of help to other professionals who are seeking advice or a recommendation.  The nice thing about discussions is that you can ignore the ones that a focused on finding out “who is smarter” and join in on the ones that offer meaningful information and true connections with your peers.

The industry association groups usually keep tabs on what people can post and do a good job of filtering out solicitations or posts that are meant to get a reaction.  The large industry groups, such as ASSE and NSC, are a good place to start.  You can also find groups specific to your industry.  As for the companies you follow, you’ll quickly see who posts useful content and who posts sales pitches.  You’ll ultimately have to be the judge of what information to subscribe to and from who you want to receive it.  When you find your goldilocks spot on LinkedIn it can truly be a great tool for networking, learning about industry trends, reading and engaging with thought-provoking content, and even finding your next job.

Happy Linking!

PS – May we suggest you follow Evolved Safety.  They post great content and can help you with your EH&S training.  Double bonus.

What works for you on LinkedIn?  We’d love for you to share how you use it to your advantage.