With more than 313 million members spread over more than 200 countries, Linkedin is by far the largest professional network today.
Professionals who sign-up to Linkedin have many diﬀerent goals, for example:
- increase professional contacts in their field of expertise
- link up with colleagues
- develop their expertise by following thought leaders and other experts
- find business opportunities and partnerships
- find prospects for their business
- find new career opportunities
If you want to make the most out of your LinkedIn presence and reach whatever goals you have set, consider the following
- An attractive headline
Your headline is the first thing people see about you. Make it attractive. Entering your job title is not enough. Use the 120 characters available to enter your keywords; if possible enter the value you can add (to your connections, to a future employer).
Test your headline against “How you rank for profile views”; click Who’s viewed your profile – link in the sidebar of both your Homepage and your Profile and be prepared to change it from time to time.
- A complete and attractive profile according to your keywords
As you build your profile, Linkedin prompts you to fill-out the diﬀerent sections, summary, experience, projects, education, recommendations, skills, interests, etc. Once all of them are complete you will see Profile Strength All Star over a blue circle on the right sidebar of your profile. Add as much visual content as possible – projects you have done, presentations, books you have published, etc.
As you work on your profile think about your keywords. These are words that define your job title or experience and are used by LinkedIn members when they do searches; if for example you are in Sales, ensure that the word appears in your headline, job title, throughout your current and past experience, in your summary and in your skills.
Add related words that may also be searched in relation to Sales, for ex. Account Management, Business Development, etc. as well as other keywords that are relevant for you.
My advice is that you do an Advanced Search and look for other members in your area using the keywords you’d like to rank for. Then check the profiles of those appearing at the top and check how they have used these keywords. This will give you a good indication on how to use yours.
Do not stuﬀ your profile with repeated keywords out of context, it really looks bad!
Please be aware that Linkedin Search displays the results by relevance and connection level and ranks the results by profile completeness in descending order, your 1st level ones first.
- A professional profile photo
Profile photos come in many varieties: the fierce looking ones, the ones with the spouse, with the children, with the pets, the logos versus pictures, the dark photos against a dark background, the tiny photos no one can see, etc. There are still many profiles without a photo. According to LinkedIn profiles with a photo are 7 times more likely to be viewed than those without a photo.
The really professional ones of people harboring a confident and engaging smile are also there and really if you are looking to do business or to find your next career challenge please do yourself a favor by sporting a professional well contrasted photo of you (alone), if possible harboring a confident look and smile.
Please be aware that as per the Linkedin User Agreement, a profile photo must be a likeness or a head-shot photo. Non compliant photos may be removed by Linkedin, and this does happen. If a photo is removed 3 times the Linkedin member loses the right to upload a photo again.
- A substantial number of contacts
Have you invited all the people you know, friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues?
Linkedin allows you to import .csv, .txt, vcf files from a variety of email clients, such as Outlook and Mac, it also “reads” most of your email clients, from Gmail to AOL and automatically sends your contacts the standard invitation to connect with you.
Then there are a number of Open Networker groups and websites where you can sign-up to and either download their lists and import the
m as you would do for your personal contacts or receive invitations from fellow Open Networkers. There’s a lot of debate around growing a network with people you don’t know vs. growing it through your friends and contacts. Finally this is a personal choice.
Is it important to have many connections? yes it is, the more you grow the number of your 1st level connections, the larger the total number of people you can reach, that is the number of their connections and the connections of their connections grows exponentially so that you will increase your chances of being found, for ex. by that connection of your connection who has that job you were dreaming of.
A word of caution, do not send out too many invitations at a time. Send a few and wait until they are accepted. Indeed, if 5 of those who receive your invitation report they don’t know you, you will have trouble connecting with people you really don’t know but would need to approach, except if you have a Premium account with InMails or you contact someone you share a group with, or you request an introduction; in all other cases you will need to know the person’s email address.
- Taking part in group discussions
Groups have been the backbone of Linkedin for a number of years. Today there are more than 2 million groups.
Participating in Group discussions is a way of gaining visibility and meeting people that can help you further your business or your career.
Group selection is key; it may seem obvious although I consistently find people who joined groups composed of peers and not those where their targets may be found. This is particularly important if you are a professional in transition.
Once you have joined a group, start new discussions that can be of interest to the other members, share your knowledge, oﬀer tips, participate in group discussions. The key is to add value to the conversation.
Do not open discussions to promote your products or services. People will come to you once they see you as a person they like and trust, through the contributions you will have made.
Do not forget the universal principle, oﬀer before you request.
You can directly connect with other group members without knowing their email ID; when you connect do not use the standard LinkedIn invitation and oﬀer a good reason to connect with the person, other than being part of the same group.
- Sharing quality content
You increase your visibility and credibility when you share quality content.
The content can be done by you or you can share existing content. To share existing content, there is Linkedin Pulse where high quality content is published everyday.
Consider sharing the most interesting articles with your network. You may also share articles from blogs you follow, news websites such as news.google.com. Some of the most interesting tools for me are Scoop.it to curate content and republish, Faveeo.com as an engine that does extremely targeted searches, learns your pattern search and then continuously oﬀers results.
Recently Linkedin is extending to all members (depending where you live, you may have to wait a bit) the possibility of publishing long form posts. This has taken off very quickly and thousands of members are creating and publishing
posts everyday. Look for the pencil icon in the status message window on your homepage. Once your post is published your network will be notified. Look for the flag on the right of your main Linkedin navigation bar.
- Oﬀering and requesting recommendations
Recommendations are high-quality referrals from your ex-bosses and colleagues, your clients, people you have interacted with in a professional relationship.
Recommendations are linked to your professional experience; you can request recommendations for each position you had or each business you were part of.
Recommendations are valuable assets. When you request a recommendation ( Edit Profile, Ask to be recommended) I do suggest you contact the person first and outline clearly what you would like the person to recommend you for. If not you may end up with a very generic text that does not suit your purpose.
Oﬀering recommendations is a very good way to gain credibility. While you are building your network do not shy away from oﬀering recommendations to those you have worked with.
And you, are you enjoying your LinkedIn experience ?