I got an email this week telling me that my profile was in the top 5% of most viewed profiles on LinkedIn in 2012. Obviously I’m delighted, but I’ll let you into a secret: it’s not that hard. I managed that on dipping into it now and then, and just following basic principles.
Most LinkedIn users who are hardly scratching the surface of what’s available. The good news is the field is wide open to start making an impact.
So this is guide is to get you to the next level, whether you’re wondering why you should bother with LinkedIn at all, or have already seen the benefits and want to get even more from it.
Do you really need it?
200 million people are on LinkedIn. Want to guess how many of your prospective employers and clients are on there? If you’re job-hunting, it’s the first stop for recruiters; if you’re networking or growing your business, it’s where people go to check you out. Ask yourself: what impression does your half-hearted profile make, or if you’re not there at all?
On the practical side, it’s also your address book. How else could you ever hope to stay in touch with old university classmates, colleagues from different jobs, clients and suppliers from across your career?
So here’s how to get from LinkedIn newbie to Ninja, in 5 straightforward steps for each stage.
LinkedIn newbie: improve your basic profile
1. Make sure your profile is up to date, and you’ve filled in all the sections that are relevant, including a good quality photo.
2. Pay attention to your headline and summary. It’s your first sales line, and the message that will appear in search results.
3. Think about who you want to find you, and what they’re likely to be searching for. Identify the key words you want to associated with, and integrate them into your headline, your summary and other text. If you’re trying to appeal to head-hunters, make sure they’re the words for the job you want. If you’re trying to get attention within your own industry, ensure your specialisms are immediately obvious.
4. Make your text short and punchy. If people are trawling through profiles, they’re not going to spend long looking through poorly written information.
5. Go through your contacts and connect with them. You can quickly grow your connections by systematically linking with past and present colleagues, friends and industry contacts
LinkedIn foot-soldier: join a community
1. Build the habit of connecting with people you’ve met on it. Drop them a short personalised note, ideally within a couple of days of meeting.
2. Find LinkedIn groups to engage with your industry or personal interest community. Look at people you’d like to be in touch with, or in the job you’d like, and see what groups they’re part of. Comments they make on open or shared groups appear on their activity, which can be an indication of valuable groups.
3. Participate in discussions. Look for discussions with plenty of comments, but not too many. Several dozen comments can indicate that people are trying to add their voice to a loud discussion rather than actually participating in a conversation.
4. Request and give recommendations and endorsements. If you’re requesting them, don’t be shy to suggest areas it would be useful to be mentioned, particularly if you know the recommender well.
5. Set your skills and request endorsements. A note, however, especially if you’re changing field. LinkedIn will list your skills according to the number of endorsements each has, and automatically asks your connections to endorse you for particular skills, which may not the ones you want to emphasise. That means that it can be useful to start off with a small number of core skills you want to be endorsed for, and add more later once you’ve got your top ones in place already.
LinkedIn ninja: take control
If you’re already doing all these things, you’re definitely one of the top LinkedIn users. But there are a huge range of more nuanced ways of improving your profile further. The right way depends here on what you’re trying to achieve, such as job-hunting, growing your company’s profile, or establishing yourself as an industry expert.
1. Rearrange your profile, so you decide the order in which your information is presented
2. Make use of the new options for uploading multi-media, including videos, slides and audio files. If you don’t have something, can you create it?
3. Regularly post relevant information from your own blog, or repost useful articles from other sources
4. Follow and engage with companies you’re interested in. You don’t need to know anyone in them, so it’s a good way of researching businesses you may want to work with.
5. Consider Premium membership, with its range of additional services, including a lot more information on who’s been looking at your profile, seeing many more profiles and appearing in search more frequently.
And there’s more: top LinkedIn resources
This is a fabulous, if slightly overwhelming, list of ways to improve your profile, from the basic to the seriously geeky: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Mastering LinkedIn
If you’ve been active user but haven’t yet reworked your LinkedIn profile to make the most of recent changes to the way information is presented, here’s some good advice: 8 things you now MUST do as a result of the recent LinkedIn changes
Emily Miller of specialist LinkedIn tutors Marshall Walker is one of our favourite LinkedIn experts. Her blog, by herself and colleagues, is full of interesting approaches and wise advice on how to tailor your LinkedIn profile for different purposes. Marshall Walker LinkedIn blog
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