It’s likely safe to say that by now you are on LinkedIn, but are you using it properly? LinkedIn is NOT another Facebook or Twitter whose notifications you can ignore until your email inbox overflows. Actually, it’s a unique career networking social media platform that can boost your professional image – if you play your connections right. Since its founding in May 2003, LinkedIn has become the biggest online professional networking service in the world.
As a college student in the communications field, I’ve heard about the importance of a clean online image a million times – but seriously, it’s important. In many cases, LinkedIn is your first impression, thus your profile matters. Since most of us have mastered the basics (name, title, professional profile picture, and job experience), here are ten ways to help you get more out of LinkedIn:
- Show off your achievements – Uploading your own original content under each job experience makes your profile so much more appealing. With the seconds that employers spend glancing over LinkedIn profiles, you need content to capture their attention. By adding writing samples, presentations, artwork, videos, etc., you give viewers more to look at and have the opportunity to show off your career accomplishments.
- Engage in conversation – Following companies that matter to you and joining groups full of professionals you can relate to is also important. Better yet, instead of simply being a follower or member, involve yourself in the conversation. Being an active participant on company pages or in groups increases your visibility and may get you noticed.
- Analyze and measure – Since LinkedIn’s “Who’s Viewed Your Profile,” is one of the site’s most popular destinations, the site created the relatively new feature “How You Rank” to help you monitor and analyze your profile’s viewership in comparison to your connections’ profile views. “How You Rank” features customized insights designed to help you build your professional brand, generate new opportunities, and manage your network.
- Boost your credibility – Getting endorsements for your professional skills feels like getting an A+ on a final paper that you spent forever on (trust me, I know). Not only can you rant and rave about a skill or product you’re proud of, but other people can vouch for your good work! It has become perfectly acceptable to ask people you’ve worked with to endorse some of your skills on LinkedIn, but don’t forget to return the favor!
- Be concise – When you edit your settings, LinkedIn gives you the option to shorten your public profile URL. Do it! Instead of being linkedin.com/in/asdfasdfiotenvie171887 you can be linkedin.com/in/yournamehere. It’s much simpler for you to give out to employers and makes it easier for your professional network to find you online.
- Stay relevant – Congratulate connections on new jobs or work anniversaries and comment on things they post. Don’t be annoyingly interactive but do keep your LinkedIn presence consistent. In the fast-paced work world, it’s so easy to be forgotten – don’t be the connection that gets deleted because a person starts to wonder, “How do I know them again?”
- Don’t be a bore – When requesting to connect with someone, change the generic message that LinkedIn sends them and instead make it a more personal note that reminds the person of how you two know each other and where you met. You may be surprised at how pleasantly people respond!
- Use 1000 words (not literally) – Everybody loves a good photo! Reporting out to your connections how successful a professional conference or business trip went is always a great update, but add a picture and your “likes” are sure to go up.
- Update your summary – The first thing people see on your profile is your summary; make it grab viewers’ attention. Maximizing this section matters, as it is your only opportunity to add your own personality and voice to your profile. LinkedIn suggests you use at least forty words to describe yourself and your current career status or goals. Make it representative of you!
- Give your profile some heart – 41% of LinkedIn members surveyed consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience when evaluating candidates. Don’t neglect the volunteer experience section, people like to know that you care.
Feeling like you have some LinkedIn profile edits to make? Me too! Since technology is ever-evolving, honing your professional image through the use of technology is a constant learning experience. Every new and improved technological adaptation is an opportunity to strategically build our brands.
Stay tuned for next week’s post on how to use Twitter smarter. A little birdie told me that it can be much more than a mindless minute-to-minute social update platform. Until next time, happy connecting!