Get started! LinkedIn® Job Seekers and Professionals Series [Video]

LinkedIn® is the social networking site for job seekers and professionals. Are you there yet?

If not, don’t worry. Our series on social networking for job seekers and professionals continues with a screencast to help you sign up for LinkedIn® and get your privacy settings in order. Digital Survival™ is all about taking charge of your computer and your web presence—that includes protecting your privacy and understanding the implications of the choices you make about computers and the Web. When you put your best foot forward right from the start, you’ll feel more confident and know that you’re making the system work for you.

I’ve talked with many job seekers and professionals in the last couple of years who have qualms about social networking sites and questions about their privacy. More often than not, these folks opt-out, don’t participate, and miss out on the potential benefits.

When you join a social networking site, read the user agreement / terms of service carefully—and keep the company’s goals in mind while you’re reading. Although most sites will say that they retain the rights to use any posted content in the future, it doesn’t mean that they are out to steal your work. It does mean that they have to have your permission to put your content out the Internet, and if you do something exceptional on their (usually free) network, they reserve the right to talk about it or show you as an example to promote their services.

Most free social sites want to provide great customer experiences, and in the case of LinkedIn, they want to provide such a great experience that you sign up for their fee-based premium services. So consider what sorts of behaviors are in their best interest. It’s not in their interest to try and steal your work or use it inappropriately. Give legitimate sites and services credit for their good faith and consider the benefits of participating—even though there will be conditions attached. One way to get more information would be to search for complaints about a particular site’s content practices before making a final decision. It’s all about balancing the conditions and benefits.

After all, you still make decisions about what you’re sharing each time you post new information. If you’re concerned about your intellectual property rights, then you can choose to publish some material in a different manner or reserve it for your own blog or website. Your work history, expert opinions, and contributions to professional conversations are more valuable to you if you share—so let ‘em out and let your authentic self shine through.

Remember that you are in control. Take charge of your privacy, put your message out there in a way that works for you, and tell a compelling story.

Our next three videos will walk you through a process to get you started.