LinkedIn is an amazing network and it can get you the career you’ve always wanted, if you know how.
With well over 300 million members and two new users per second, LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world. In order to fully utilise this amazing resource, time and care must be taken to cultivate and optimise your profile and networking strategy.
LinkedIn best practices
Complete your profile
Your profile is the shop window of your personal brand. It should explain what you do, what experience you have, your skills, accomplishments and attributes, not, simply your organization and job title.
If you want to be found on LinkedIn, whether your target is networking or a new job, then you need to maximize your chances by getting your profile right.
Your headline should be an informative snippet of what you have to offer any future employer or network connection. The challenge is that you only get 120 characters to showcase yourself.
The key is in the preparation. Think about what it is that your target ‘audience’ will be looking for. Once you have this information you can tailor your headline to tell people how you meet this need.
It’s also important to research popular keywords in your chosen field or industry. This will give you the best chances of being found in searches run by other users.
It may be that, even with forethought, your initial profile headline doesn’t get the results you’re after. If this is the case, then update it and test again, you’re not restricted to your first attempt.
Your summary is a continuation of your headline. As such, you’ll need to prepare your content carefully.
Keep in mind your target audience and what they will be searching for, but also what you would like to happen as a result of them reading your profile.
Are you showcasing your talents to attract and grow your network? Or is there a specific ‘call to action’, such as driving traffic to your blog or getting an enquiry regarding your services?
Whatever your overall intentions, you need to construct your summary accordingly.
Make use of media
Using imagery is known to increase engagement when used in online marketing. That’s what you’re doing, marketing your personal brand. Media content on your profile will add interest and drive engagement, but make sure that you stick to relevant material.
You can use this section on your profile as a portfolio for your online work, showcasing your skills and creativity.
Target recommendations rather than endorsements
Endorsements are the LinkedIn equivalent of a ‘like’ on Facebook. They’re very easy accumulate and take little time to add, as such their value is diminished. That’s why there’s currently over 1,000,000,000 endorsements logged on the network.
LinkedIn even encourages you to bulk add endorsements regarding attributes that you may have no experience of when working with that person.
Much more meaningful and comprehensive are recommendations. The simple fact that a recommendation takes longer to complete makes them a more substantial indication of advocacy for your personal brand.
A recommendation will usually offer an explanation as to the reasons behind why you’ve received such a reference.
It’s fine to ask your connections for a recommendation, as long as you don’t use the default message.
Remember, you’re asking someone for their time, (which they probably won’t have much of), to help you for free. By demonstrating that you’ve also taken the time to ask in the right way, you’ll increase your chances of getting such a sanction.
Involve yourself with groups, brands and individuals
‘Create it and they will come’ doesn’t work on LinkedIn. You have to proactively involve yourself in other areas of the network in order to get noticed and grow your network.
Your target may be a specific industry, interest or brand (or all of these). Depending on this target you’ll want to start interacting within the relevant groups or company pages.
Sharing unique content or that of others, asking and answering questions and getting involved in discussions will help you to find and connect with users of similar interests.
If you contribute to and share content produced by brands then you’ll demonstrate your interest in the business should you look for employment opportunities with them in the future.
Create meaningful, relevant connections
There’s an article on a well-known website which states that you should have no less than 500 connections. I assume this is supposed to impress people?
To get to this number you’re encouraged to contact everyone you’ve ever met and build a large, but ultimately pointless, network.
What you’ll end up with is a large percentage of connections that you’ll never meet or engage with again and have no professional connection to.
These weak connections won’t take the time to recommend you and probably wouldn’t know what to recommend you for as you’ve not spoken to them in such a long time.
Leave the above strategy for the vain and concentrate on creating meaningful and beneficial connections. If you have a network of people that you regularly interact with and will happily recommend you then you’ll be much better off.
Don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile URL
A simple change to your profile that is often overlooked is your profile URL. The default one assigned isn’t all that memorable, but luckily it can be changed easily.
Be sure to change it sooner rather than later and before you start adding it to other profiles, email signatures and business cards.
To change the URL, simply edit your profile and amend the link beneath your profile image.
Create a network of your personal sites
LinkedIn allows you to add the URL’s of external blogs and sites to your profile. It’s also a good strategy to add your LinkedIn profile URL to these external sites too.
Adding your site to your profile is not only a great way to encourage more traffic to your site, but also displays what you are up to outside of the professional network.
LinkedIn Pulse is a great resources of industry news
LinkedIn Pulse features updates from industry leaders and experts in their field.
It’s a great way to stay current with news stories as well as interesting updates regarding topics of interest. It’s also a resource of articles which you can re-share and discuss with your connections.
LinkedIn profiles can be exported as a PDF document
LinkedIn features a very handy button which allows you to export your profile as a PDF document.
Using this document shouldn’t replace your CV, but instead be used as a quick informal reference of your skillset and personal brand.
Optimise your home feed
Filtering your home feed will mean that you’ll only get the updates relevant to you. IF there’s a connection that continually posts irrelevant news, then you can ‘mute’ them without them knowing.
On the content stream, hover over the update and use the menu that appears to stop these updates from reoccurring.
Don’t assume that quantity beats quality
Spamming your network with numerous, irrelevant updates every day isn’t the best content strategy.
Before posting an update, whether it’s your own content or you’re sharing someone else’s, make sure it’s newsworthy and something that your network will benefit from reading or watching.
Quality trumps quantity
Even if you do have numerous updates that are relevant and could be of interest, don’t be tempted to share too much content. Instead, if you can, save some for the next day, you never know when there’ll be a ‘slow news day’.
Don’t ‘troll’. Ever.
Trolling gets a lot of press and is said to be responsible for the misery of many people. If you disagree with an update or comment made by another user, then be sensible about your reaction.
If you have a valid and reasonable response then give it, don’t be tempted to make any remarks that could be construed as rude or offensive.
As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it to your mum then don’t say it.
You’re not a Jedi or wizard
Leave the pretence that you’re any kind of supernatural being to console games. No one’s going to take you seriously if you describe yourself as a Jedi of this or a wizard in that.
LinkedIn’s a professional network, not the playground.
Use a real photo, PLEASE
There’s one thing even worse than no photo, that’s a cartoon version of yourself. Unless you’re very fortunate, you were never in the Simpsons and you probably never will be. No one cares what you might look like if you were.
If you arrived at a job interview in a cartoon mask on how far along the interview process would you expect to get?
Settle for nothing less than ‘All Star’
LinkedIn helpfully lets you know how complete your profile is.
Don’t leave sections incomplete or blank if there’s information that you can add.
When setting up your profile, allow enough time to complete it to an acceptable level, – the same goes for updating your information.
Get your settings sorted
There are a number of LinkedIn settings that you have at your disposal which are particularly useful.
- Turn on/off your activity broadcasts
- Select who can see your activity feed
- Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile
- Select who can see your connections
- Change your profile photo & visibility
- Show/hide “Viewers of this profile also viewed” box
- Manage your Twitter settings
- Manage your recommendations
Security setting can be found under the ‘Account & Settings’ section in LinkedIn