LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for any professional, regardless of age, experience, or industry. As with all good tools, however, understanding the ins and outs of LinkedIn can change the service from a decorative ornament to a high-powered machine that you can make work for you. With this quick guide, we hope to help you make the most out of your LinkedIn so you can stand head and shoulder above other users.
But First, Why?
It’s easy to dismiss LinkedIn as an over-hyped Facebook Professional Edition, but to do so would also dismiss the wealth of value the platform has. As we mentioned in a previous post, LinkedIn allows you to connect with professionals in your industry and build relationships with your colleagues, expanding your professional network into otherwise unattainable sectors. This far reaching net can then be used to help market your own business, or help you search for a new career through the people you know, and most importantly, who know you. However, without a finely tuned profile, you could be missing out. So without further ado, here are five easy tips to improving your online presence.
Preparation is the first step in any good plan. Before you begin creating your LinkedIn profile, gather any materials you might think necessary, i.e. your current resume, background information, and most importantly, an idea of where you want your LinkedIn to go. All of these will help you in the long run. Also use a professional email when creating your profile, preferably one that features your name. This is the email they will use should you apply for any position on LinkedIn, and a succinct, mature email address is much more likely to get a response.
This is the core of your LinkedIn account, so give it the time it deserves. The focus here will be to complete your profile 100%. Luckily, LinkedIn will help you keep track of how much left you have to complete to achieve that perfect status.
The first thing you want to do is fill out your experience, education, location and skills. If nothing else, complete these areas, as these are the most important areas that potential employers/connections will see first.
Next, your personal photo. As with the email, keep it professional and relevant to your field. I’m sure the picture of you snorkeling is a beautiful photo, but unless you’re looking for a position as a scuba instructor, something on dry land may be a better fit. Other tips include avoiding grainy or pixelated images, poorly lit images, or pictures with a bunch of people in the frame. Beyond anything else though, avoid not having a picture. You’re more likely to gain a connection when people can see you.
After that, make sure to fill out your current title/position, and create a summary for yourself. Keep in mind, the summary is your personal brand statement, so take the time to sell yourself. Explain your skills and background, and most importantly, what makes you “you.” Finally, finish up with a vanity URL to set your page apart, and add some sections to highlight some of your best work. If you’ve completed all this, then I bet your LinkedIn is looking pretty good right now. Awesome, let’s keep going.
So, you’ve made your LinkedIn profile look good. Great. Now let’s make it sing. This is done by making meaningful connections across the platform, both with people you know, and people you want to know. Start by importing your email (that professional one we talked about earlier) into LinkedIn. This will automatically connect you with everyone in your address book, saving you valuable time and kickstarting your LinkedIn connection list.
From there, expand your search. Look for people that you have multiple connections with, but may not know personally. Reach out to those people. You may have met before and, most importantly, they may be a good connection you’ll need down the road.
It’s one thing to say you’re capable of doing something, but it’s much more impressive to have someone back you up on your claim. That’s where Recommendations and Endorsements come in. Think of these sections as immediate proof to any of your connections that you know what you’re talking about.
So, we know that Recommendations and Endorsements are great, but how do we go about getting them? The easiest way is just to write them for others first. Find about 3 or 4 connections, and write a quick recommendation for them. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, and they’re sure to appreciate it. After that, shoot them a quick message asking them to return the favor. It will only take you a few minutes, and in the end, you’ve strengthened not only your own profile, but your colleague’s as well. Everyone wins.
Following companies on LinkedIn is a great way to stay in the loop about your industry. By following a company, you’ll see all of that organization’s blog posts, company news, twitter feeds, job openings, and much more. Following a company after you’ve applied is also a great was to show the company that you are interested and involved. This is an incredible tool that should absolutely be taken advantage of.
In addition, LinkedIn makes it incredibly easy to follow new companies. You can simply search for companies that you know interest you, or use the recommendations that LinkedIn provides of companies and business leaders for you to follow. Do not shy away from the latter option, as it provides a wealth of great advice and interesting articles that you could miss out on.
If you are still struggling to find a good company to follow, we have a pretty good place to start right here.
You Got All That? Awesome!
If you’ve followed all of our steps, you are now the proud owner of a high functioning, finely-tuned LinkedIn account and are ready to take on the world. Make sure you keep your profile up to date, and check back often for new connections, recommendations, and news. In addition, keep expanding your connections with LinkedIn Groups, a great way to meet others with similar interests, and stay in the loop with LinkedIn Today, currently the foremost business content provider. Other than that, enjoy your new LinkedIn Profile. Now go out and use it to shake things up!