Before we start. LinkedIn is not Facebook. It is not Instagram. It is not intended for sharing personal stuff about your family, good news stories or cute pictures of dogs. LinkedIn is a business tool. A networking tool. The whole point is to expand your professional connections. So lets learn just how to use LinkedIn effectively.
As of 2021, LinkedIn had over 740 million members. That’s a lot. Individuals like us use LinkedIn as a professional networking platform, for job searches and researching prospective employers and companies.
Companies use LinkedIn for talent recruitment, researching prospective employees and promoting their own businesses.
So what is it…in a nutshell?
A platform for professionals to connect & network
A place for individuals to manage their own professional identity
A base for the foundation of your own personal brand
A space for business to recruit staff and promote themselves
The basics of setting up a profile are, well, basic. If you have not done it before, its very plug & play and if you have, its probably worth going back and having another look to see what can be updated and improved. Such as:
Headlines and Summaries
Make this more than just your job title. Explain your “why”. What makes you tick or why you do what you do.
It’s your story so to speak, so use it to promote yourself. Put the spotlight on the skills and experience you have, how you use it and what differences you have made. Include career highlights or successes – the whole idea here is standing out from the crowd.
Personally, I am not a fan of those who list every detail of every job they have held. I don’t think it’s necessary.
Your headline summary is there for you to promote yourself, the work experience is just a list of which jobs you have held and for how long. Sure, add in achievements or specific highlights if you feel it helpful, but keep it simple. If people want to know more – they can ask.
First impressions last, and it’s noted that profiles with out a photo receive far less engagement. There might be thousands of people with your name in the world, so its far easier for people to find you if they already know what you look like. Keep it a recent photo too, there is nothing worse than finally meeting someone and realising that their profile photo is a good 10 years old. Not authentic at all, and definitely not professional.
There’s been a lot of discussion recently around the use of profile pictures. Since we are all working from home, should they not be more casual?
I say no.
Since LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, I believe your profile (including your photo) needs to be professional also. Sure, if you are a creative type then you can probably have a bit more leeway here, but honestly, you don’t want a prospective employer looking at a dodgy picture of you on a night out. Stay classy, not casual.
Endorsements & Recommendations
Go through your connections and give endorsements where they are truly warranted. This can often be a catalyst for people to return the favour.
Recommendations are a different kettle of fish. Almost like a reference, they are personal testimonials written by those who have worked with you to highlight your skills and the experience of working with you. Often given freely, however there’s nothing stopping you from asking a contact you know very well if they would write one for you.
Content & Comments
Sharing content, writing articles and showcasing your own publications are great for promoting your business, showing your skills or highlighting your knowledge on different topics. You can also use this to share content from other connections which you find relevant to your industry.
Comments on articles from others can also help to give you a bit of prominence within a discussion or highlight you as a SME if that’s what you are going for. Just remember to keep it professional, everyone is watching.
As I’ve said, LinkedIn does not operate in the same way Facebook or Instagram does. As an individual, I don’t suggest just connecting with anyone and everyone you know. Your reach on this platform is not all about how many friends you have but the value within those connections.
Start by reaching out to current and prior colleagues, family & friends in your industry or those you wish to move into. Where you know someone you think it would be useful to have a professional connection with, then add them also.
If you see someone you would like to connect with but don’t know from a bar of soap, reach out with a personalised message which explains why would like to connect any any potential benefits there may be. You can also use the “get introduced” tool, which allows you to ask a current connection to introduce you to one of theirs. (not used this myself TBH, but it sounds like a helpful idea!).
Now you have a great profile and a good amount of connections, you can start utilising LinkedIn a little more specifically:
Grow your network; reach out to peers in your area for coffee, or those further afield for a videocall.
Make your summary & bio visible to those not connected with you. How can people connect if they know nothing about you? This is especially important for recruiters and others that may be scouting LinkedIn for new hires.
Research potential managers or recruiters you may be interviewing with.
Looking up businesses before an interview to get up to date with their current products, services or strategic direction.
Let people know you are looking for new opportunities or available to work.
Promote your business or brand.
Notify your connections if you are open to pro bono work or volunteering opportunities.
Be involved in LinkedIn groups for your industry or areas that interest you.
Now you know how to use LinkedIn effectively, the benefits far outweigh the time it takes to set up a profile and keep it up to date (which really, is bugger all time anyway). The platform can really assist you in growing your career, finding a new role or even hiring for your own teams. You’ll be amazed at who knows whom, it’s six degrees of separation made easy!
Just Be You, Everyday