If you are like many LinkedIn users, you have a profile on the site but don't really utilize it to its full extent or get exactly what it's for. Sure, you've uploaded a photo, filled out your resume info, and connected with your coworkers and college buddies. If you are unimpressed with the results this has earned you, remember the old adage that you only get out what you put in.
LinkedIn can actually be a very powerful networking tool, if you use it the right way. According to the Pew Research Center, "LinkedIn usage is especially high among the educated (bachelor’s degree holders and up), and high earners (those making $75,000 a year or more) — exactly the types of people with whom you’d want to connect professionally." The potential for valuable work connections is bolstered by the fact that LinkedIn is the only online networking site with higher usage among 50-64 year-olds than those aged 18-29, which means that it provides the best opportunity to connect with experienced individuals who are more likely to be in a position to hire you. Indeed, Viveka von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing, points out that 98% of recruiters and 85% of hiring managers use the site to find and research candidates.
Hopefully this has you eager to clean up that dusty old LinkedIn profile. Not sure exactly how to use LinkedIn to the best efficacy? Here are 8 ways to make the most of your LinkedIn profile!
1. Make your profile more appealing
You want your profile to look professional and inviting. Start with a good headshot: it should be in focus and business-appropriate. You should be facing the camera squarely or, if you really want to get fancy, facing slightly to the left so that you will be turned toward your headline information on your profile. Don't just use your current position as your headline; come up with a creative and readable description that uses industry keywords, as this is how people will find you on LinkedIn.
2. Clarify your strengths
Don't just regurgitate your resume! Any interested employer will already have your CV, so your LinkedIn profile should not feature the exact same list of jobs and experiences. Highlight the skills that you feel best define your personal brand, and consider excluding work experiences that may dilute that brand. That being said, you should also use your profile to elaborate on the parts of your resume that are most important to you. Because you have more space for description here, use it to create detailed explanations of your role, acquired skills, and accomplishments within each job featured on your resume.
3. Make relevant connections
While connecting with coworkers and friends is great, expand your network by reaching out to industry leaders, people who may be able to provide advice or job leads, or just individuals who you find interesting. If you want to connect with someone who you do not know offline, you can use the Get Introduced tool, by which a mutual friend can initiate an introduction. If that individual is not as open to accepting LinkedIn invitations as some, email them directly or suggest meeting up in person to chat.
4. Join groups!
Another way to build more connections is to join groups that will give you access to industry leaders or a target audience who are not yet your contacts, which will allow you to communicate with them. In addition to connecting you with more relevant people, joining and participating in groups also helps to build your brand through your affiliation with the organizations or groups of which you choose to be a part.
5. Be selective with recommendations
Much like the groups you join, the recommendations you make reflect your personal brand. Only endorse people or companies that you actually respect, because this can affect your own reputation.
6. Be helpful
Helping others by giving advice or introducing mutual friends shows that you are a valuable resource. If you are trying to connect with someone through a mutual friend, do something for that friend to foster reciprocity and indicate that you value them as a connection.
7. Snoop around
You may want to change your privacy settings to anonymous first so that people can't see when you have viewed their profiles, but you should definitely use LinkedIn for job reconnaissance! If you are interested in a new job, ask people who formerly held that position about their experience. If you are hiring, check out interviewees' profiles and connect with people who know your candidates and can give you more information about them. You can also use LinkedIn to prepare for conferences or events by gathering information on featured speakers and networking with participants before you even get to the meeting.
8. Stay active!
Yes, physical activity is great (it is beach season after all!) but I'm talking about maintaining a consistent presence on LinkedIn. Make sure to keep your profile updated, participate in group conversations, and constantly reach out to others. By simply investing more time on LinkedIn you will build more connections and expand your professional network.
Networking is a vital part of building a business, and LinkedIn makes it easy! It's also a huge component of inbound marketing, which is on the rise, if you haven't heard. If you want to learn more about how inbound social media marketing can work for you, contact us, or download this free infographic that can help you decide whether inbound is right for you!