LinkedIn is the professional social networking site, and with over 300 million followers, it becomes essential for those of us in the business world to get with the times and enhance our profiles as much as we can. Here's a brief run down of why to bother with your LinkedIn profile and some simple, effective tips to get the most out of this platform.
Why invest time in LinkedIn?
Networking – this is arguably the main benefit of using LinkedIn for promoting yourself and your business. With free access to potentially millions of people, LinkedIn provides an excellent opportunity to network in an extremely efficient way – as the old saying goes “it's not what you know..”
Credibility – as with the majority of social media in today's society, we are expected to have profiles on all the popular social sites, and the same goes for LinkedIn - especially if you're working in the B2B industry. The goal is to build a set of very good connections; this will not only make your profile look more credible, but will give you the opportunity to ask these connections to write recommendations about you and endorse your skills. Think of this as a form of Word-of-Mouth marketing which will be seen by anyone who views your profile, an excellent opportunity to gain more attention for yourself and/or your business.
Work Opportunities – the connections you make on LinkedIn can give you a variety of work opportunities. Degrees of separation plays a part in this – if I connect with John Smith, then I am a secondary connection to his connections, and a tertiary to all of his connections connections and so forth. With the ability to “ask to be introduced,” think about how many people out there on the social network could be a new work opportunity for you!
Exposure – LinkedIn provides yet another location on the web for you to be found, thus increasing your online exposure. This is a simple, but effective way of self promoting yourself or your business and from a search engine optimisation perspective, is a great way to help you gain more traffic to any sites you may have.
Access to Experts - having a social media platform which has been created for business means that lots of influential business people have joined the site and offer their expertise at no cost to us. It is an excellent way to learn more about your industry and keep up to date by following influential business people who post blogs about what they know best. More recently, LinkedIn have allowed all members to publish work onto the site, meaning there's even more information available and the added opportunity to post yourself to help build connections.
Simple tips to improve your profile.
Photos – having a picture of yourself on your profile means you're 11 times* more likely to have your profile viewed; it's a simple technique that has a large impact on getting you noticed. Photos should be recent and well-taken – you want to give off a professional yet personable vibe, so that photo of you after you've had a few too many drinks may not be the best to use! It's also a good idea to upload a cover photo to your profile; something which reflects what you do and adds some personality to your profile, can help you stand out from the rest.
Headline – your headline is one of the first thing people will see on your profile; it's capped at 120 characters, so you need to make every bit count. In general, most users will put their job description in the headline, but whatever you write make sure you include keywords as this will help you become found easier. Try to make your headline memorable as well as informative – use your imagination.
Summary – this is where you can really sell yourself and your business; the summary allows you to give more detail about who you are, what you do and what you're passionate about. You want to make your summary interesting to read whilst using those key buzzwords which people look for in a personal statement. Just be careful not to over do it – it's easy to tell when someone's gone overboard on keyword stuffing. LinkedIn now allows you to publish photos, videos, presentations and documents; this is an excellent opportunity to make your profile more interactive and to back up what you're writing about.
Experience – make sure you're including all of your past and present work and volunteering experience on your profile. You're up to 12 times* more likely to have your profile viewed if you list more than 1 job experience on your profile. Volunteering experience is also a must to update if you have it – it has been found that 1/5* of LinkedIn members have been hired based on their volunteering experience, so if you've got it, flaunt it! Again, LinkedIn allow you to upload any photos, videos or documents to enhance your experience profile, an excellent opportunity to make the most of.
Once you've enhanced your profile...
Get Connected! – now is the time to work on your connections. Connect with past and present colleagues and clients as well as family and friends and spend some time looking at your connections connections to find out who you want to be introduced to. Another quick way to find connections is by entering your email address for LinkedIn to recommend people to link in with. If you do this regularly, you're sure to build up an excellent set of connections.
Write Recommendation & Endorse – one of the best ways to encourage your connections to endorse your skills and write you a recommendation is to do the same for them. Try sending a brief email when you make a new connection, thanking them for linking-in with you and ask them if they would appreciate you writing something about them. Obviously, this is much easier to do if you know the connection relatively well, but they are likely to appreciate you offering your time to help boost their profile and in turn will feel more inclined to do the same for you – it's a win win situation (if everyone complies!)
Join Groups – groups are an excellent way to find a large number of people who are interested in the same things as you. If you're getting stuck for new connections, you'll be sure to find some in a group which relates to your interests and industry. Groups gives you the opportunity to join in and start discussions as well as self promote yourself and your business.
Blog Posts – publishing your own blogs is an excellent way to enhance your profile, gain more connections and improve your online credibility. Write about what you know and promote these posts in the groups you join and on your other social media platforms.
A hour or so spent improving your LinkedIn profile here and there will pay off in the new opportunities you are likely to find once you start exploring the site.