Thing 5: Professional Networks – LinkedIn

thing 11

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, and it allows you to build an online profile that features your experience and skills. It also allows you to network with other users in a professional environment, so it provides a great way to connect with contacts from your current work world, and connect with people from worlds you’d like to work in. LinkedIn profiles tend to feature highly in Google searches (though not as high as profile pages with suffixes).

A well-constructed LinkedIn profile can be a great way to:

  • Develop your professional on-line presence
  • Build your networks and make connections
  • Increase your visibility
  • Actively look for jobs, companies or career opportunities

and above all enhance your professional profile, Research from Elsevier suggests that 65% of researchers are on LinkedIn


You are not required to set up an account on LinkedIn, but we do recommend it, and you will need to register to set up your profile and access any of the tool’s features.

 Building your Profile

Getting an account on LinkedIn is simple, and you can register from the home page . The wizard makes it simple to construct a full profile, although if you want to further develop your use of LinkedIn there are a plethora of books and web articles, just search Amazon and Google, about how you can maximise the impact of using LinkedIn for example check out the blog on


  • Remember that this is a professional network, so your photo, taglines and activities should be those you’d be happy for potential employers, colleagues and possible future contacts to see.


  • LinkedIn allows you to upload your CV straight to your account, with the chance to edit and format it afterwards, which offers an easy way to get all your job information in. Also with an active LinkedIn profile you can put a link to it on your CV to enable potential recruiters to find out more about you.   You can share the website address of your LinkedIn profile, but the better option is to create your own customised url and here is how , of course if you do this it is important that you keep your LinkedIn profile active and up to date!
  • Once you have set up your account it can be a good idea to take a look at profiles of colleagues or people in the career area that you wish to pursue. This is easy to do by using the search tool bar and can be a helpful way to see how they position themselves, the language they use and can give ideas about how you would like to promote your professional profile on-line.


Developing your Network

 Once you’ve signed up and set up your profile it is time to begin to build your network by connecting with colleagues and other contacts. Remember that the more complete your profile is, and LinkedIn helpfully calculates how complete it is in percentage terms, the more likely that people will then connect with you. 

  • 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.


  • Recommended for You

LinkedIn will also recommend people, groups, companies and hashtags that you might want to connect with – sometimes they can seem very relevant and sometimes quite random, but don’t forget that sometimes the random can lead to serendipitous contacts so it is worth taking a look.

Don’t be worried about sending requests to contacts; it’s considered normal.   However rather than just clicking on the send a request button always remember to send a thoughtful and relevant tailored message – this does make it more likely that the person will then connect with you.  Don’t be offended if someone doesn’t connect, some people have a policy that they only connect with people they know or have met for example at a Conference, as a way for them to manage their LinkedIn connections, others are more open and that is where the tailored message to contact can be helpful.


  • Groups

LinkedIn has groups – these allow you to join others based around a sector, place of work or other interest – for example, the University of Surrey, or the Researcher Development Programme.  We are currently looking to develop the offer for Doctoral College Alumni and will be using the RDP LinkedIn group as part of that platform so joining the group definitely be useful).  Another option is to take a look at this list of great groups for academics.

For a demonstration of how to join and maximise the benefit go to Linkedin-groups and watch the four minute video.


  • Alumni Tool

A very useful feature is the alumni tool.  When you go to a University group, for example, University of Surrey

you will see an alumni button.  This enables you to search for alumni and to filter in a number of ways e.g. by year of graduation and more usefully by qualification.  For example you can search by PhD in subject areas and by location – so a good way to build contacts both locally, nationally and internationally.   Generally speaking alumni are more likely to connect and seek to assist someone who is attending a University which they themselves attended.

Click the-alumni-tool for another four minute video which will take you through the alumni tool features.


Exploring further

  • Have a look at this blog post on how to create an effective academic LinkedIn profile.
  • Surrey social media have blogged about optimising your LinkedIn profile.
  • Here are some common mistakes to avoid.
  • Many people find LinkedIn an extremely useful 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.


And finally on LinkedIn

  • Recommendations – are written by a fellow LinkedIn member who you are connected with and can be useful to have so that others can see what other people are saying about you and your work. You can request a recommendation from a connection, and can also approve what has been written.  Only post the concrete and realistic ones though, an over enthusiastic recommendation about your general fabulousness from a friend is unlikely to impress.   The overview here explains more about them and how it works.
  • Skill endorsements – you can include specific skills on your profile which demonstrate your abilities to peers, colleagues and recruiters. Once you have added skills they can be validated by your first level connections, further strengthening your profile click here to find out more
  • Writing articles can be another way to raise your profile and encourage engagement with your LinkedIn ‘audience’.  This is not like writing an academic article but could be more described as short ‘thought pieces’.  One way to start is to comment on articles produced by your connections or some of their connections before you begin writing articles yourself.  Take a look here to find out more writing articles.




thing 9

“I’m telling you, evolving opposable thumbs is going revolutionise the ways we communicate.”



Is a professional networking app, which uses an algorithm to suggest professionals with matching interests. It is available for both iOS and android phones.  Launched in 2015 it is worth taking a look at but has tended to have mixed reviews.  We would advise making use of the free version to see if it might be something relevant for you.

Handily you can use your LinkedIn profile to register with Shapr and can also then check out the LinkedIn profile of anyone who is on Shapr.

It is also now available for desktops although this is in beta testing stage

Take a look and perhaps use your blog to comment on your experience.




Suggestions for you Week 2 blog post

How easy were you to find online? Were you happy with what you found? What sort of ‘person’ emerged, and what might other people think about him or her? What did you, or might you, do to address this? How important do you think it is to maintain a professional presence online?

If you spent some time exploring tweets, pages, images and boards, were you surprised by any of the things that people shared?

How might you strategically use these things to improve your employability, or your impact?

Remember to tag your blog Thing 4 and 5.



Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

“Getting into the blogging habit”


Author: rdpsurrey

Providing personal and professional development opportunities to researchers at the University of Surrey.

2 thoughts on “Thing 5: Professional Networks – LinkedIn”

  1. The picture at the top desperately makes me want to dust…

    Perhaps also blog about the famous people who share your name? I’m apparently a sociologist from New York, a steel band musician, and the producer of SClub7. I do apologise.


    1. I’m fortunate enough to have a fairly uncommon name, so I don’t find myself competing for Google rankings with any namesakes. There is a cliff in the Lake District called Pavey Ark, but that hasn’t as yet led to any confused fell-walkers contacting me.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s