Social media is ingrained into our daily lives, whether we like it or not (no pun intended), and LinkedIn, as the professional social media of choice for companies and individuals, is growing day by day. However, differing from other social media options, LinkedIn is geared towards the professional rather than personal, and this leaves people confused about how to utilise it effectively. Here are 6 steps to help you become a LinkedIn All-Star!
Upload a profile picture
This seems like an obvious observation to make, yet some people remain oblivious to the fact that a profile picture should be a priority on any social media. On LinkedIn whether you plan to use the platform for networking, job searching, or marketing, profiles with photos receive more views and interactions than those that don’t. However, and this is one of the differences between professional and personal platforms, a picture of you at the beach, with a significant other, or in a bar, just won’t cut it on LinkedIn. Your picture should be a professional looking photo, one of you in attire you’d be comfortable wearing to work, preferably against a plain colour background, and smiling. Why smiling? Because research shows that doing so makes you look more trustworthy, and will attract more visitors to your profile.
The best size for your LinkedIn profile picture is 500 x 500
Upload a background photo
This is a feature that many LinkedIn users fail to take advantage of. Having a good background photo can drastically increase interest in your profile, and keep visitors from passing you over. Use the space available to display an image about you, maybe something about your current company, or profession, or an inspirational quote that you live by, or even a self-designed picture. Try and incorporate visible contact information into the picture (the section boxes of your profile obscure part of the image), so that your contact details are front and centre, for any interested visitors.
The best size for your LinkedIn background picture is 1400 x 425
Fill out as many of the sections as you can
Many people see LinkedIn as an online CV and this is not the case. In fact, I’ve seen profiles with only basic information filled in, and a CV PDF uploaded as a media attachment. If you are serious about utilising all the opportunities LinkedIn has to offer, please don’t do this. Fill out as many of the sections as are applicable to you; title, summary, work experience, education, volunteer work, projects, and anything else.
Regarding your summary research shows that approaching it from a 3rd person perspective is the most effective. Write a little about yourself, emphasising your strengths, and what your current position entails. When filling out this section, and your title, consider how people like hiring managers will search for candidates for a position in your field, use words that will rank you high in the search index for your industry. It’s basically SEO for your profile, so if your field is Marketing, you can utilise a range of terms; Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, etc. Put these in your title, and with your summary utilise a ‘Skills’ or ‘Specialities’ section so that you can simultaneously make yourself more searchable, and inform visitors of your strengths. As with the background photo, put your professional contact details in your summary, that way interested parties don’t have to go far to get in touch.
When it comes to your work experience approach it in a similar way as you would your CV, don’t describe your roles, instead describe your accomplishments in those roles. When it comes to past positions that you no longer hold, remember to write in the past tense as this tends to be a pet peeve of many hiring managers, or recruiters. Another feature LinkedIn provides, that people seldom use, is the ability to append links, or upload documents for each of your positions. This is a great way to fill out your profile, and stand out, so if you have work to display, do it!
Connect with people you know, and others in your industry
LinkedIn isn’t about connecting with your friends, although that is a good place to start building your connections. Outside of that, look for people who are in the same industry as you, or hold a similar position to you, and connect with them. LinkedIn is also a great way of doing company research, you can find employees in many different positions through the platform, so if you have an interview you can gain more insight into the company. Alternatively, if you want to make a speculative pitch about why your dream company should hire you, connect with the hiring manager, and try your luck! Remember, and this is important, when connecting with people you don’t know, make sure to personalise your connection message. The default message maybe fine for friends, but when trying to establish business connections, you need to give people a reason why to connect with you. Plus, doing so shows you spent time, and that is always appreciated.
Join groups related to your industry
Joining groups on LinkedIn is a great way to connect with likeminded individuals who occupy the same, or similar, industries and positions to you. By doing so you can interact through posting news or articles relating to the industry, comment on things others have posted, and generally get yourself out there. Groups are a great way to find new connections, and give you something to put in your personalised connection message; ‘Hi, I saw your post in XYZ group and thought it was…’
Above all else, be active
First and foremost LinkedIn is a social platform, and although different from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it still requires some time investment. To get the most out of the platform you need to engage with it as social media, posting updates, commenting, connecting, and more. However, you don’t need to be posting as often as you might on other social media, once a day, or 3-4 times a week is an acceptable amount.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for those on a job search, looking to increase business connections, or conduct company research, and when used effectively can provide numerous opportunities. Remember, your LinkedIn profile maybe the first thing people searching for you see, make sure your first impression is a good one!