CHICAGO — LinkedIn is a powerful career management tool if you know how to use it.

Think of LinkedIn as a global billboard that is free. That is how my very market savvy friend, Ron Thomas of Strategy Focused Group in Dubai, describes this professional networking platform. Ron credits LinkedIn with helping him fulfill his business mission to create a successful human resource consultancy based in Dubai.

In yesterday’s podcast I said that if executives who robustly discount or flat out ignore the platform, would just set aside their egos or whatever other barrier keeps them from getting on the LinkedIn train, they would find they actually have more control over their careers. They can actively minimize the chance of being left on the sidelines by the search consultancy crowd, or alleviate their perpetual frustration over lessor colleagues with inferior career achievements who seem to be landing the prized positions. There are some remarkably talented CEOs who fall into this category. To borrow a quote from a savvy old Texas county judge: “You can be on the train or you can be on the tracks. Your choice.”

Now here is an important caveat: Learn before you leap lest you waste time and effort and then blame the program, not the operator.

Part of LinkedIn’s beauty is that it allows you to target your audience. Heck, you can even build an audience — you can join or build special interest groups. Joining is easy, picking the right groups to join — those that will allow you to connect with the most appropriate audience — takes some time and research. In other words, going all in is not a one and done exercise. Aside from your success oriented profile that touts your experience AND successes, you must invest time being visible and engaged with members of the various groups you join.

You can also build your own community. For example, if you are an executive who excels in leading extraordinary turnarounds, you can build a group that targets people who share common interests. But you also want to connect with board trustees. You do this by developing content that will attract them to your group. Or you can shift over to Facebook and create a separate page for Directors/Trustees with information they will value.

It is important to note that this strategy is not reserved for senior leaders. It can be used, on a smaller scale in some cases, for leadership up-and-comers.

By the way, there are reasonably priced firms that can help you develop a strategy and develop content. Prices vary but there are some boutique specialists who have surprisingly reasonable monthly fees.

If you have questions, email me at AsktheRecruiter@JohnGSelf.Com.

I invite you to follow me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to check out our week career management videos each Saturday on YouTube. You can subscribe to receive notifications when we release new content.

ask the recruiter videos