I don’t fully understand, esp. in the year of 2016. There are those who enthusiastically use Facebook, Tweet and Instagram, often without a second thought. But when it comes to professional social media they hesitate. They don’t always seem to take it seriously, want to bother with it, or they fear it.

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Seriously folks, I am of course referring to LinkedIn once again, and how fundamental it’s become to managing one’s career. It’s among the best, most effective and cost-free career management tools available. Certainly, it isn’t like getting a certification, or additional training in your field. But it is essential to stay abreast of it, stay on top of your profile and be involved. If you’re not going to do that, then I’d suggest don’t bother. A barren LinkedIn profile often reflects an uninspired or disinterested person behind it.

LinkedIn is serious business. Launched in 2003 with a total of 4,500 members and now serves as a primary foundation on the business professional social network market with over 400 million users throughout 200 countries. By the way, they employ 9,200 people with offices in 30 cities around the world. LinkedIn is available in 24 languages.

Bother with it, please! Take the time, not loads of time. But once your profile has been completed (as much as possible) do revisit your profile page at least weekly. See what your connections are up to ‘professionally’. If you want to see what sporting event they attended or what recipe they’re trying – you’re looking up the wrong site. If you are actively or even passively looking for a new role, be sure to update your profile page on at least a monthly basis. That way, your connections – and theirs’ will be able to see what you’re up to: what new class you took, or certification you’ve achieved or even a new project you’ve been a part of. You want to be found on LinkedIn, as a resource to others and maybe a job lead for yourself. Be sure you have the most professional photo you can upload and use that. If you can’t find one through your Instagram and Facebook files, then have one taken. (Sundance has photography resources that will take great professional photos for approx. $75.) Just be sure your photo is appropriate to your profession, includes no one else in it, and is fairly current (1-3 years).

Don’t fear it – embrace it. Use it for research if nothing else. Last I saw, LinkedIn has survived and has thrived through many challenges including changes in technology while becoming a public company. Those that list their skills within their profiles have 13x more traffic in profile views. In recent years, LinkedIn is the first place recruiters go to source candidates for the roles and industries they are supporting. Don’t worry yourself with premium subscription offerings unless you are a serious job seeker or the like who will be actively using it. I can share that I’ve heard on more than a few occasions from our career network – that trying out the premium job seeker option did lead to more views and more solid job prospects – as their profiles gain a higher rung on the ladder, so to speak.

If you are afraid to get started, or just don’t know what to do with a profile page you’ve left stagnant – you can certainly talk with others you are already connected to – that appear to have a very complete and professional profile. You can consult LinkedIn online (for free) or you can take a workshop or class on how to help you through the process. It’s not that hard, really. It’s just essential.