Photo: Nan Palmero
Although it doesn’t get as much attention as Facebook, LinkedIn is a great social network for both businesses and professionals. LinkedIn is particularly helpful if you’re interested in taking your career to the next level. And really, who isn’t?
Last week, I had the opportunity to listen to LinkedIn expert Lisa Dalla Vecchia at an IABC/BC volunteer appreciation event. Lisa, who is currently the Alumni & Career Communications Manager at SFU Beedie School of Business, gave some tips about LinkedIn and how to leverage this platform to enhance your online profile.
I’m already a huge fan of using LinkedIn to enhance personal branding, so I was really surprised to learn about many features that I wasn’t aware of. Based on Lisa’s presentation and what I know about this professional platform, here’s how you can rock this often under-utilized platform.
1. Complete your LinkedIn profile.
Your presence on LinkedIn should be more than just about replicating what’s already on your resumé.
Lisa reiterates that LinkedIn can help establish your online presence and define your professional brand. Use the “summary” section to communicate your passion and what makes you unique. Define your brand by reflecting on what people usually ask your help for. Do that, and you’re one step closer to defining what makes you stand out.
Make your LinkedIn profile more powerful by avoiding overused buzzwords. Show, don’t tell.
When filling out your profile:
- Use a professional photo. What works on Facebook probably won’t work on LinkedIn
- List your expertise. Think keywords when filling up the “Specialties” section. Lisa recommends adding your top specialties but not going overboard. You don’t want to appear scattered!
- Install applications. You can include apps to your LinkedIn profile to showcase your WordPress blog, SlideShare presentations, and Behance portfolio.
- Showcase your achievements. When describing previous and current experience, go beyond listing your tasks. Describe your achievements and how you accomplished them. See job opening descriptions if you’re not sure where to start with this part of your LinkedIn profile.
- Show off your education. Mention any majors and minors you have in addition to adding your educational institution. Lisa recommends not listing your GPA unless you’re an accounting or finance student. List your awards and honours.
- Fill out the “Additional Information”. Mention any key interests you have.
- List trade associations or interest groups you currently belong to.
- Add links to your websites. Include a link to your blog, portfolio or other social media profiles. Include your Twitter information if you’re comfortable doing so.
Hot tip: When adding websites to your LinkedIn profile, edit the default ‘My Website’ label to provide more information about where your guests are being redirected (e.g. Say “marketing portfolio” vs “kcclaveria.com”). This information is helpful to people viewing your profile, and it is a good SEO tactic.
- Set up your profile’s privacy settings. If you make your profile public, it will appear on a Google search, usually within the first page.
- Claim your profile’s vanity URL. Lisa recommends something consistent with your other social accounts.
- Make it easy for others to get in touch by including your contact information. Add things such as your phone number, address, birthday, and marital status to the “Personal Information” section.
- Fill up your contact settings. Include your availability, the types of opportunities you are looking for, and what information you’d like to see included in a request.
Hot tip: You can move stuff around on your LinkedIn profile. Why is this important? This lets you showcase the most important things first — potential employers and recruiters are not likely to read everything on your LinkedIn profile. To do this, go to “Edit Profile,” click the section you’d like to move, and drag it to its new location.
2. Grow your LinkedIn network.
Once your profile is ready, it’s time to start growing your network. Use the search box or click the “Contacts” tab to find people you know.
Always customize your invitation. Explain why you want to connect.
Also, don’t connect with someone just because they gave you their business card.
Lisa cautions again becoming a “LION” (a LinkedIn Open Networker), someone who connects with everyone.
Hot tip: Add notes to your contacts’ profiles to remember pertinent information such as how you met or why you connected. Your contacts can’t see these notes. You can also add tags to organize your contacts.
Sometimes, you might get invitations from people you don’t know. Don’t be shy to reply and ask why they’re trying to do so. Better to ask than blindly add someone!
It’s a good idea to review your connections regularly and end unsuitable connections.
3. Join LinkedIn Groups.
One of the benefits of LinkedIn is joining groups where you can connect with other professionals with similar interests or industries. At the very least, you should join your alumnus’s LinkedIn group. (SFU and the Beedie School of Business have LinkedIn groups, for example.)
After you join, make it a habit to check the groups regularly. Contribute and comment on discussions. Participate in polls and check the “jobs” section.
Lisa does not recommend joining more than five LinkedIn groups.
4. Ask for recommendations.
Let others speak about your expertise — ask current and past colleagues, clients, and employers to recommend your work. When asking for recommendations, do not use the default message. Lisa suggests giving talking points. Of course, you also want to make sure that you’re asking for recommendations only from people who can actually talk about your qualifications.
LinkedIn users can review recommendations before they go live, so take advantage of this functionality. LinkedIn currently doesn’t catch grammar and spelling errors.
Besides thanking the other person, consider returning the favor and sending meaningful recommendations
5. Update your status regularly.
Compared to users who rarely post, professionals who share articles on LinkedIn at least once a week are almost 10 times more likely to be contacted by recruiters, according to Krista Canfield, senior manager of corporate communications at LinkedIn.
Update your status regularly by sharing news about your industry or talking about something related to your profession.
If you’re not sure what to share, check out LinkedIn Today, find interesting content related to your industry, and share those articles. LinkedIn Company Pages are another possible source of content to share. When appropriate, talk about professional events you’re attending or any speaking gigs.
6. Use LinkedIn Answers.
If you really want to establish thought leadership, use LinkedIn Answers to help other professionals. As its name suggests, this feature lets you answer questions from other professionals about a broad range of topics.
Lisa reiterates that you don’t necessarily want to use this feature to push your brand. Don’t be that guy. Instead, focus on providing valuable information.
Continue to experiment with LinkedIn
The largest professional network continues to add features, so check back often and keep an eye out for enhancements. Read the LinkedIn Blog regularly to keep up with what’s new with the platform.
How are YOU using LinkedIn to enhance your online presence? I’d love to hear your thoughts — leave a comment below.
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