July 7, 2016
Do you have a LinkedIn profile? If so, when was the last time that you updated it or even logged on for that matter? Even if you do log in from time to time are you truly utilizing the site to its fullest? I know that some people out there still challenge the relevance of LinkedIn, but I’m here to tell you that it’s here to stay and it’s worth your time – even if it’s just for a few minutes each week.
According to LinkedIn, professionals are signing up to join at a rate of more than two new members per second. Not only that, organizations are increasingly using LinkedIn in a number of ways including branding, posting employment, identifying candidates, and screening candidates. If you don’t have an updated profile and aren’t actively building your network or engaging with content, you risk losing out on valuable information and opportunities.
Here are 10 easy things to help you become a LinkedIn guru in no time:
Include a photo and make sure it’s appropriate
This one seems like a given, but if you do not have a photo on your profile you are making a huge mistake. People like images and have become accustomed to seeing them associated with every online profile, article, news feed, etc. Furthermore, LinkedIn’s search algorithm puts priority on displaying profiles with images on search results pages. Without a picture, your profile probably won’t get the full consideration or visibility it deserves.
It is also important to mention that not all pictures are created equal. Ensure that your photo is clear and that you are dressed professionally and looking (smiling) at the camera. This is not the place for a beach selfie. Nowadays, most smartphones have great cameras. On a good hair day, ask a friend or colleague to take a photo for you posed against a plain backdrop. Or even better, make an investment in yourself and get a professional head shot taken.
Build out your profile basics
Your profile should not be a copy and paste of your resume nor should it be one sentence with no dates, titles or contact details. Having a completed profile is the most effective way to showcase who you are, including your background, education, experience, interests and areas of expertise (to name a few). There are a few important areas of consideration:
- Professional Headline – go beyond your job title and make this your value proposition
- Summary – utilize this space for your personal elevator pitch
- Experience – include at least 10 years or 3 roles, but keep it short, you want the reader to be interested and wanting to learn more
- Skills – fill this with keywords that are relevant to your profession and industry
- Education – include any relevant post-secondary, certifications, and designations
Notify your network…but only when you are ready
If you are thinking about using these tips and updating your profile know that it can take a few times of logging in to get it to a place you are happy with. As such, you might want to turn off the ‘Notify your network’ setting until you are ready to ‘go-live’ with your changes. This option is found along the right hand side when you are in the edit mode on your profile. The default is set to Yes which alerts your network every time you make a change to your profile. I suggest switching this to No until you are ready to broadcast your final changes.
Familiarize yourself with your settings
An often overlooked piece of information when discussing LinkedIn is managing your privacy and settings. It is a good habit to routinely check your settings to make sure you are comfortable with things such as what is shared on your profile and how many emails you get. The settings are found in the top right hand corner of your account (also where you sign out) and they are separated into Account, Privacy and Communications options.
Expand your network
Don’t sit around waiting for people to connect with you. As a best practice, make sure that you have at least your primary network built out. You can do this by using your address book, searching for current and past co-workers, connecting with people you volunteer with or have attended conferences with, and adding relevant contacts in your personal network. From here, you will organically begin to expand your network beyond this thanks to LinkedIn’s “People you may know” that suggests connections for you based on commonalities between you and other members.
Also, don’t feel compelled to connect with everyone that reaches out to you. Like any other form of networking, you should connect with people that can add value to your professional relationship and vice versa. If someone is not a personal contact, current/past colleague or is in a different industry or area code, don’t feel bad about declining their invitation. The one exception here is if someone spends the time to include a personal message about why they wish to connect. If they provide a reason, they may be worth connecting with.
Join some groups
Joining groups is a good idea for a number of reasons. It can help you expand your network, stay up to date on industry trends, engage in dialogue with like-minded people, and get notified about conferences, events and job opportunities. Start with any industry associations that are relevant to your profession and then expand your search to look for groups that align with your interests and passions. Groups can be found under the ‘Interests’ tab in your profile and LinkedIn makes it easy, suggesting a number of groups you may be interested in joining. And don’t worry, if you join a group and find that it isn’t for you, you are able to leave the group at any time.
Experiment with Advanced search
You can always start with the basic search options found at the top of your account, but sometimes you might want to get more substantial results. Whether you’re looking for a new role, are interested in certain companies or are wanting to broaden your network you should try the Advanced search tool. Advanced search allows you to dig deeper and narrow your search criteria based on a number of items such as keywords, location, titles, etc.
If you are on the job hunt, LinkedIn recently updated their job search interface making it similar to other job boards you may be familiar with. The new layout allows you to search based on geography, company, function, experience, etc.
Follow companies and thought leaders
LinkedIn has become an information hub for organizations and individuals alike. There is a variety of content available at your fingertips that can be easily accessed on your newsfeed. In order to populate your homepage with content outside of your network (and advertisements), you should follow both companies and people that you want to hear from.
For example, if you want updates from Microsoft, type it into the search bar, navigate to their company page and then click Follow. Same goes for thought leaders (known as Influencers on LinkedIn). You can easily view their great content and updates without having to formally connect with them. If you want updates from someone like Bill Gates, simply type his name into the search bar and select Follow.
Share your own updates and content or at least engage with someone else’s
Don’t just sit there and passively follow everyone else’s content – try sharing some of your own! Perhaps your organization has announced an important initiative, you have contributed to a thought leadership piece or found an interesting business article online, you can easily post this content on the top of your homepage under “Share an update”.
If you’re not quite ready to take this leap, try sharing something someone else has shared or comment on content that you find interesting.
Use professional judgement!
Let me conclude with this critical tip as it applies to everything that we have covered so far. Yes, LinkedIn is considered social media, but please remember that it is first and foremost a professional networking site. Keep this in mind at all times, but especially when choosing your profile photo and when sharing or commenting on content. Before posting anything, ask yourself, would I be comfortable sharing this in my next office-wide meeting or at a conference with my industry peers? If not, don’t bother. There are plenty of other social media sites out there for you to utilize.
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