Dubai: Most people these days have LinkedIn accounts but if you ask them how much they interact with others through the website and what value they get out of it, the response is rather lackluster.

“The biggest challenge when it comes to LinkedIn is that people don’t fully grasp what it can do for them. This is from the people who are looking for jobs, to those who are using it for business development and/or networking in general,” said LinkedIn expert and entrepreneur Rick Itzkowich.  “People have not fully grasped the website’s potential.”

Itzkowich recently visited Dubai to conduct workshops with students, graduates, and professionals on how to profit from LinkedIn relationships. At Hult International Business School he audited students’ profiles to expose weaknesses and then helped them customize their profiles for maximum exposure.

Lack of understanding

“There are many people who think that LinkedIn is just a job site, which was originally how it got started, but there’s a lot more to it,” said Itzkowich.

He has observed that many college students and new graduates are not using LinkedIn and estimates that the main users are between 30 and 50 years old, the majority of them entrepreneurs and salespeople.

“If I were to quantify it, I would say 85 percent have not grasped all of what LinkedIn has to offer.”

He describes the site as a phenomenal tool for business development and sales as it allows you to interact with a large pool of individuals who use the site for the sole purpose of doing business and building relationships.

“When I do presentations, I ask how many have LinkedIn accounts, and 90 to 95 percent of people raise their hands. But when I ask how many of them are getting value and making money out of LinkedIn, hardly any hands go up,” he said.

Many professionals create their free accounts but leave them dormant, poorly written, and rarely updated. A bad profile, says Itzkowich, lacks a picture and relevant details about your skills and specializations.

“This ends up hurting people. You are communicating that you are disinterested, you don’t care, or, even worse, that you have something to hide.”

Protecting one’s privacy is a concern for many professionals and many are not willing to divulge their career history or share the contacts in their LinkedIn network with just anybody.

However, Itzkowich explains that “perception is reality whether you like it or not.”

“If someone perceives that you’re hiding something, there is nothing you can do about it.”

When people want to find information on an individual and can’t or they find an incomplete profile, it causes frustration and annoyance. “So you are already starting with a negative perception because we live in a society in which we are used to finding what we are looking for online.”

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