Before presenting more of the best 2011 LinkedIn features, I would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season. I will be taking a few weeks off over the holidays and will be back with Part 3 of the best LinkedIn features of 2011 on January 8. 

One final reminder about my first Beginners LinkedIn class of the new year. Start the new year off right and join me on Saturday, January 7 from 9:00AM until 11:30AM. Following the class, I will be offering a half hour of job-seeking tips for college grads from 11:30AM until noon. Special pricing is available for students and their parents. Click here to get more info or register.

Now let's jump into Part 2 of my discussion of the best LinkedIn features introduced in 2011 and how you can benefit by knowing about them. (If you missed Part 1, you can read by clicking here)

  • Skills

This feature was added to make it easier to find individuals who have specific skills. LinkedIn added a Skills page to the overall site and now allows you to add a Skills section to your profile, where you can list up to 50 specific skills you possess. 


skillsI haven't found the Skills page itself to be particularly helpful as of yet. However, including Skills in your profile will help you in the LinkedIn search rankings for the keywords you include and will highlight those skills on your profile. Both of these are great reasons to do this.


Strategy Tip: 


Add the Skills section to your profile, and include words that describe the skills you have amassed over the years as well as the words that are most critical to you on a going-forward basis. These words are not just the general functions you do, like finance, but specific details, such as budgeting, cash flow analysis, tax preparation, or even specific software you know how to use. Keep in mind you are trying to come up with the words someone will use when searching the LinkedIn database to find a person just like you.


In addition, check out the Skills feature on LinkedIn by clicking "More" on the top toolbar and selecting "Skills." Then do a couple skills searches to see if you can gather any information that might lead you to other skills you may want to consider including. 


Additional Resources: 


Power Formula Blog: Your LinkedIn Profile: Which Direction Are You Going?



LinkedIn's Blog: Introducing LinkedIn Skills



Mashable Blog: How To: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile's New Skills Section



  • Additional Student Profile Sections 

LinkedIn really came through for those of you younger people who were screaming for a way to differentiate yourselves when you are just getting out of college. In the past you may have thought the standard profile sections seemed perfect for your parents but not for you.


You can now add the following optional sections to your profile: Projects, Honors & Awards, Organizations, Test Scores, and Courses. These sections make it much easier to differentiate yourself from your competition by telling your unique story.


Strategy Tip: 


Add all the special sections to your profile that you think will help break you apart from the rest of the pack. Include not only the facts of the situation, but add an interesting personal story or specific example that ties into the entry and demonstrates strong job-related skills if possible. 


For example, if your Courses section includes a study abroad experience, share a story about the leadership role you took on the trip and how you succeeded in your role. This will help the reader understand what special skills you will bring to the workplace.


Additional Resource:


LinkedIn Blog: Introducing New Profile Sections Designed for Students



  •  Volunteer Experience & Causes 

In addition to our business story, most of us want to share with the world what matters most to us on a personal level. This new LinkedIn section not only helps you tell your story, but it helps your favorite organizations gain additional exposure.


In addition to listing the general causes you support (financial literacy, education, etc.), you can include a detailed explanation of each organization's mission and your personal involvement with them. Thanks, LinkedIn, for helping us help others.


Strategy Tip: 


Significant volunteer efforts show the reader of your profile that you care about things outside of business and you work hard even when you are not at your workplace. Most people value these personal traits, and sharing this information in your profile may set you apart from your competitors and result in increased business and referrals.


Before meeting with someone for the first time, check out this section of their profile. It may give you some good conversation starters to get the meeting rolling. If a businessperson has taken the time to include this information, they are probably dying to have you inquire about the organization and their involvement. This is a home run.


Additional Resources:


Power Formula Blog: LinkedIn Gets A Heart



LinkedIn's Blog: Why Volunteering is Good for Your Career



Forbes Article: LinkedIn Report: Claim Your Volunteer Hours On Your Profile




If you're looking for last-minute holidays gifts, why not give the gift of success! Order my book, The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, on Amazon through Thursday and have it in time for Christmas!

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.