Can you really afford not to be on LinkedIn? The short answer is no. The long answer? LinkedIn has become crucial to professionals in every industry. Potential employers use it to find and screen candidates. Potential clients use it to assess you. And you, as a professional in the supply chain industry, can use it for its original purpose: to create a network of professional connections that can be useful whether you are currently employed or searching for a new opportunity.

How should you start?

1. Create Your Network. Sign onto LinkedIn and see how many of your former coworkers you can find. You can search by first name, last name, job title, location or company. You can look at the LinkedIn profiles of friends and colleagues and see if other former colleagues are listed in their connections or recommendations. Check groups and group discussions to find the names of co-workers and other professional contacts in the supply chain industry. Or simply click on Connections and Add Connections, then search each of your old employers.

2. Create an Honest Profile. As you work on your profile, remember always to tell the truth. A large percentage of people are said to lie on their resumes, but there’s no getting away with whoppers when many of the people you’re hoping to network with are former colleagues. And don’t make your profile just another version of your resume. Really sell yourself—your skills, strengths, talents and accomplishments.

3. Offer, Then Ask For, Recommendations. Recommendations are important because they, more than anything else on your profile, can serve as a true testament to your abilities. When you write one, don’t say something just for the sake of saying it—but if you have honest praise for somebody in your network, put it out there. Offer your connections the type of recommendation that you want to receive. Dig deep to summarize how you worked with them and what you learned by working with them. Do it right, and it makes getting that reciprocal recommendation much easier.

4. Make It Easy. When you ask for recommendations, simplify the process for your connection by reminding them of the work you did. Include relevant information about your supply chain experience for them to consider. And make those reminders keyword rich: if you are looking for a materials manager position, find ways to suggest your previous work with logistics, planning and information technology integration. Or mention specific instances where your knowledge and skills were useful.

5. Give Some Context. If you’re actively seeking a supply chain position, tell your connections—this is a great time to ask for a recommendation. Say that you want your LinkedIn profile to be as complete as possible, and the recommendation would help. If you’re considering going back to school, mention that a recommendation would be useful on your application. People on LinkedIn understand that recommendations are par for the course, but including some context as conversation helps you ease into the request.

Ready to get started? Need more advice? Bring your LinkedIn profile and recommendations to ZDA Partners. We’ll work with you to help you start the next stage of your career.