We all know what LinkedIn is. It’s the social media platform where you publicly post your resume, right?
Well, that is part of LinkedIn, but if that is all you are using it for then you aren’t taking advantage of everything the platform has to offer. LinkedIn is a great way to advertise your job-seeking self, but more than that it’s an effective tool for networking with others in the business community. Let’s review some basics to make sure your profile exemplifies the best version of yourself, then look at a few ways to enhance how you can effectively communicate with others in your industry or profession.
Before we get into the fun stuff, it’s important to make sure the basics are covered. A clean and professional LinkedIn profile just might be an indication of your work ethic!
Make sure you have an appropriate photo
This isn’t Facebook, so don’t use a photo that was taken at the county fair on a Saturday night when you were sporting face paint and a wielding a corn dog in your hand. I’m sure you had a great time, but your LinkedIn connections don’t care! The best photo to use for LinkedIn is a headshot with a solid background. If you don’t have one, it is perfectly okay to put on a nice shirt and have a friend take one on your iPhone. Keep it simple and respectable, and you’ll be on the path to a great profile.
Job experience should be relevant and up-to-date
You had the highest grossing lemonade stand in your neighborhood in elementary school, right? I believe you, so don’t worry about adding it to the “experience” section on your profile. When deciding what to include under the “experience” section, ask yourself if the information being provided contributes to your career development and/or your profession. There is no limit to how much previous job experience you can list, as long as it is relevant and speaks to your skills and qualifications.
Only include relevant skills
LinkedIn provides space for you to list your “skills,” which can be a broad term. For the sake of professionalism, I would recommend not adding things like “dog walker” or “puppetry.” While I have no doubt that you may be very skilled at ventriloquism, that is most likely not something that will benefit you in your career.
Be specific when listing skills
Another way of portraying your abilities to others is being specific in what you list. If you work in public relations, it should be a no brainer that “public relations” is a skill that you possess. Instead, it would be much more insightful to put strategic communications, crisis management, media relations, Google AdWords, webinar coordination, or any other skills that go beyond your job title. If you work in marketing, be specific in what kind of marketing; inbound, outbound, social media, online, product marketing?
LinkedIn has developed into a platform that can play a big role in first impressions with potential employers and clients. When someone is interested in learning more about you, the first place they will go is Google (or LinkedIn Search). To ensure that your LinkedIn profile is one of the first things that pops up, there are certain search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that can be used to bump your name up a few spots.
If you are a blogger or writer, be sure to include some of your written content in your profile. Not only will this improve the SEO of your profile, it also demonstrates your expertise to others. Slideshare is also a convenient web tool that converts your powerpoint into a format that can be easily shared on LinkedIn, so your internal presentations that you worked so hard on can last longer than one day in the office!
Customize your URL
When someone is viewing your profile, the URL box will say something along the lines of https://linkedin.com/in/ followed by a long chain of random numbers and symbols. This is confusing and impossible to remember, so changing your URL to something much more simple will make your profile easier to find. I would suggest using your first and last name if it hasn’t already been used. This can easily be updated by clicking your URL located under your profile picture on your personal LinkedIn page.
Add relevant links to additional content
Include links to content elsewhere online that can help potential employers and clients to understand who you are. In most cases it can be beneficial to include a Twitter handle (if your Twitter account is actively managed and contributes to your work experience), your blog, and even your company’s web page.
Networking with Others
If you have spent any time on LinkedIn, then you know that one of the easiest ways to reach others is through connections. Similar to Facebook, when you connect with someone you are able to view all portions of their profile, be notified when they share updates, and communicate via LinkedIn. Another benefit to connections is the ability to “tag” someone. When you create a tag and connect it to one of your LinkedIn connections, it conveniently segments that contact into a tagged group that makes it much easier to find that person in the future. I have found it convenient to group my connections by coworkers, industry contacts, leads, and college friends (because who doesn’t like to see what their college friends are up to?).
LinkedIn Groups are a really cool feature that allow you to connect with like-minded professionals to learn from and discuss topics related to your industry. Groups are closed discussion rooms that are populated with new content by the hour (often times by the minute) and range from blogs written by other group members, to questions posed by members who are looking for help in a specific area. Groups are hugely beneficial in not only learning new information from other professionals, but also allow you to contribute and build your own reputation as a thought leader with others in these groups.
Towards Better Connections
Now that I have provided a few helpful tips on what to include in your LinkedIn profile and how to navigate the platform, hopefully you are able to make better use of the platform that is changing how we interact with others on a professional level. I can almost promise you that a well managed LinkedIn account will lead to better connections and beneficial interactions.
Hunter McKay is the marketing manager at Pinkston, Inc. Stay updated on all Pinkston content by following us on Twitter (@Pinkston_co).