In the sea of new social channels and viral campaigns, LinkedIn is often overlooked. But, with over 300 million users, LinkedIn is incredibly valuable for keeping in touch with colleagues, making new business connections, seeking business opportunities, and, of course, searching for that next position.
And, like all social channels, you get more out of LinkedIn the more you put into it.
According to Forbes, LinkedIn is the only social networking site with higher usage among those aged 50-64 than those aged 18-29, and when it comes to B2B leads, Moz.com reports LinkedIn has three times the conversion rate of Facebook or Twitter.
With just a bit of technique and attention, you can quickly master the fundamentals of using LinkedIn for professional development.
These 7 pro tips will help you to get the biggest ROI from your investment in LinkedIn:
1. Build a powerful profile
Your personal profile is a statement of your professionalism, character, expertise and willingness to engage. Here are some LinkedIn profile tips:
- Headline: The headline shows up right under your name on your LinkedIn profile and alongside your name when someone searches for you
so it really needs to stand out.
Your LinkedIn profile headline should make someone want to click on your profile and learn more about you. Use the headline to highlight what you do, what you’re looking for, or what you stand for. At minimum, use your headline to highlight your current position and company. For example:
- Senior Software Engineer at ABC Company
- Speaker, Trainer, Author, Consultant | San Francisco
- Recent Engineering Graduate Looking to Relocate to the Seattle Area
- Content Marketing Strategist in NYC Seeks Opportunities in Digital Marketing
- LinkedIn Summary: Once you’ve captured people’s attention with your headline, your LinkedIn Summary should sell yourself to potential
connections. Placing the most pertinent information first (only the first portion of the summary is visible), expand on what you do, your specialties,
career experience, noteworthy accolades, and thought leadership — this is the time to let your personality shine!
However, avoid pumping your tires to much, instead stick with the facts. Tell your story in an easy to read, professional manner. Hiring managers go beyond qualifications when hiring people, and your LinkedIn profile can influence employer’s decisions.
- Use keywords in your profile: SEO still applies for your own LinkedIn profile and is an important consideration for being found both
within LinkedIn Search and when someone is searching on Google. LinkedIn Search is an often-used feature, whether it’s to search for a name, company,
skills, degree, university, location, industry and much more. Just like search engines, if you’re not using the right keywords in your profile,
it won’t be found in LinkedIn Search.
Identify the words that will expose you to more potential connections and then place those keywords in your headline, summary, and profile.
LinkedIn search allows the usage of modifiers such as ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ to help you get even more targeted results. For example, you can search for “Digital Marketer” AND “Social Media Strategist” to find people who are skilled in both.
- If you haven’t already, customize your public LinkedIn profile URL. Your name is the best choice. For example, https://www.linkedin.com/in/FirstNameLastName.
If that isn’t available, add your middle initial or industry. Here’s how to do it in three steps:
- Go to your LinkedIn Profile.
- Click edit profile
- Click edit contact info right under your photo
- Keep your skills up to date: Make sure the skills section of your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date so connections can easily endorse those skills, and remove or reorder any irrelevant skills and endorsements. Above all else, you want your profile to be a true reflection of your professional self.
Remember, as you move through your career, gain more experience, and work on more exciting projects you should continue to review and revise your profile.
Add videos, white papers, awards, foreign language skills, and all your certifications, or professional memberships to your LinkedIn Profile.
The more you share, the easier it is for connections and followers to get to know you.
2. Make quality connections, the right way
LinkedIn is not a numbers game—fewer, high quality connections will serve you much better in the long run. Be selective in who you connect with — not everyone who sends you an invitation is someone you should want in your network.
Want to connect with someone who isn’t familiar with you? Drop them a line and say hello. But save the sales pitch. Be personal, friendly and enthusiastic. And skip the impersonal default LinkedIn message.
Tell them who you are, why you want to connect, what you have in common, and what mutual benefits can arise from your connection. Providing context will usually yield better results when reaching out on LinkedIn.
Once you’ve made a connection it’s worth making a note about where you met someone, or a key piece of information about them in the Relationship section of your LinkedIn profile so that you’re not scrambling to remember. These notes and reminders are only visible to you.
If you want to check out someone’s profile before you connect, but want to do it without them knowing, you’ll need to manage your privacy under Settings & Privacy where you can choose to only reveal that “a LinkedIn user” viewed their profile.
Note, while you’re in the Settings & Privacy section, click on “Who Can See Your Connections” and choose the option: “Only Me”.Protecting your connections is for your benefit, and theirs. Your competitors and recruiters can access your connections in order to contact them.
If a premium member (identifiable by the gold LinkedIn icon appearing on their personal profile) has an Open Profile setting, you can message them even if you’re not connected!
3. Engage with your network
LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool to promote your personal brand, however it does take effort — consistent effort.
You need to show up, be active, and engage with not only brands and industry experts in your area of interest, but also with your network. When LinkedIn sends a notice that a connection has just started a new job or is celebrating a work anniversary, take the time to send a short but personal congratulatory note. Read and engage with your connections’ status updates.
Show up. Be active. Engage.
LinkedIn status updates are your chance to highlight some of your recent work, promote your presence at a conference or event, or offer inspiration through a quote or saying.
Remember, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook.
There’s a fine line between sharing personal information and professional. Sharing a good book you have just read is perfectly acceptable, encouraged even,if it is relevant and interesting to your network. Sharing what you had for breakfast is not. Try to post a useful, relevant update at least once a day at a minimum.
Every update is another opportunity to strengthen or forge a connection.
4. Request recommendations, but be picky.
Having recommendations from respectable sources on your LinkedIn profile is essential. Potential employers will look to these recommendations before hiring you, just like you might check out the reviews of a restaurant before trying it out.
Recommendations—from the right people—boost your credibility and help to highlight your strengths and top qualities. A past manager, a University professor, even a high level co-worker would all be considered quality sources. Your best friend from high school would not.
Recommendations take time and effort to write, so you often have to ask for them rather than wait for them to be given voluntarily. LinkedIn makes this easy by providing an “Ask to be recommended” link.
Pick specific people and make sure to write a personal message to them. Explain why it’s important to you (e.g. you’re looking for a new job) and if there are any specific skills you would like them to highlight in their recommendation (e.g. your stellar copywriting skills). Let them know that you’ll be writing a recommendation for them (and follow through on this promise) as it will increase the likelihood of them returning the favor.
And remember to send a Thank You to the individual once they complete a recommendation for you.
5. Publish amazing content and make it as unique and authentic as possible
LinkedIn is a platform for showcasing your talent and accomplishments.
Your existing connections are notified whenever you publish which makes LinkedIn Posts a great way to stay connected with your network and acquire new followers. The content you post will highlight your expertise and interests, especially if you are posting unique content, whether that’s an article you’ve written, a project you worked on, or simply your own insights into a current topic in your industry.
Everyone who’s commented on your article can be found at the bottom of the article. You can view each person's profile and decide if you wish to connect. You can also find who shared your article by clicking on the View stats link, underneath the article title.
If you share someone else’s work, or an article or video from a media outlet, try to add your own spin to the content, whether you agree with it or not — stir up some controversy!
Simply sharing the content in isolation does not increase your credibility as a thought leader.
6. Control what’s in your feed
Busy professionals know that LinkedIn is not just about what you put out there, it’s also about the information you want to consume, and your feed is the place to do that.
Scrolling through your LInkedIn feed — customized to your specific requirements — quickly gets you up to speed on relevant industry news, allowing you to discover new trends and opinions from industry leaders on topics that matter to you.
In your feed you can pick topics that interest you, follow industry professionals you want to hear from, save articles to read later - even unfollow or hide updates from connections that you find less interesting. The more you customize your feed, the more LinkedIn will learn what topics you are going to find the most relevant and interesting and modify what you receive.
On the bottom right of every article, there is a bookmark icon that allows you to save that article for later. This is a great feature for busy professionals. And if you are posting interesting — but lengthy — content, readers can save it and read it at their leisure.
Everything you have saved for later is stored under the “Me” tab so when the kids are tucked up in bed you can sit down with a glass of wine and catch up on all your saved articles.
7. Take advantage of groups.
Groups are a staple for LinkedIn users. There are millions of them. Whatever your industry, there will be a group of like-minded people and potential connections on LinkedIn. Within relevant groups you can build your brand to a very targeted audience by sharing articles, job listings and other information to establish yourself as a credible source.
Don’t just sell your product or service or promote yourself — sell your expertise! Engage with the group, pose thought provoking questions and provide solid, well-thought out responses to others’ questions. Whatever you do, don’t get into heated debates and arguments. Maintain your professionalism at all times.
Did you know..? You can send up to 15 free messages per month to people that share a LinkedIn Group in common with you!
LinkedIn is by far the biggest professional network in the world and a great place to heighten your visibility and forge B2B connections, however without knowing the tips and tricks to use it effectively, it could just end up being a waste of time. Put these seven tips into practice and LinkedIn will quickly start to work for you, and get you the most out of the social network.
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