With Irish membership topping 1.2 million, the odds are that you are already ‘LinkedIn’, but are you using it to its fullest potential? How many of us passively accept invites and leave it at that? If this sounds like you, you are potentially ignoring the largest professional network on the internet; a virtual marketplace in which you have the opportunity to develop and showcase your personal brand. With more than 313 million members worldwide, LinkedIn includes executive profiles from every Fortune 500 company. Has that got your attention? Here are my top ten tips on how you can make that profile work harder for you.
- Your own personal website
Should somebody check out your Linkedin profile before or after a business meeting, will they be impressed by what they see? Step back and critically evaluate what you have posted. Are you giving the best impression you possibly can? Look on your profile as your own personal website. You have 1024 words to showcase your expertise, so make every word count. Complete your profile, adding more detail about your current and previous roles and a full education history. Replace some of the vague descriptions of skills, experience, and educational background with keywords. Be specific. This will make it easier to be found by school and college alumni and past and present work colleagues – a substantial portion of your professional network. It’s a good idea to ask someone who knows you well to review it for you.
- Look the part
Like any online tool, LinkedIn is a visual medium. Adding a photo makes your profile seven times more likely to be viewed. However, use a current, professional photo. Make sure it looks the part and steer away from the one you use for your Facebook profile ! Believe me, I’ve seen it done. Choose something that portrays you as professional and approachable. A colour or black and white head and shoulders shot works best. I heard recently that you should opt for a photo that shows you looking to your left, as in towards rather than away from your profile. Maybe overkill, but can’t hurt.
Linkedin Fact #1· The biggest sector represented in terms of employment is the hi-tech industry, followed by the construction sector and the financial services sector.
- Write your own headline
Critically review your professional headline. You have 110 characters that can encourage the reader to view your profile and connect. Use them and make sure they are current and up to date. If you provide services to a specific sector, make sure that keywords in your headline reflect that niche.
- Be active
Is there something interesting happening at your company or in your network? Are there changes afoot in your industry? Why not post a comment to your profile? Be seen as an engaged member of your profession with something to say. Don’t overdo it but post regularly enough to be seen as an active networker. Before long you will be regarded as a credible opinion leader in your areas of expertise.
- Ask for Recommendations
A few well written recommendations supporting your expertise helps build your credentials and show credibility. If your clients are happy with your advice and technical expertise, then they should be happy to recommend you, but you have to ask them to do it! If people are struggling with what to say, offer to write it. This works!
Linkedin Fact #2 ·The top three titles used on profiles by Irish members are Owner followed by Director and then Manager and the most prominent skill listed by members is management followed by sales and then training.
- Show you’re connected
Do you have a business presence on other social media platforms such as twitter, facebook or Pinterest? You are allowed to add up to three websites to your contact details on your profile. Do you have a blog? Post an update with a link to you latest post.
- Showcase your expertise.
Why not add details about current projects, articles and publications as well as any honours and awards you may have won in the course of your career. This detail helps to tell the story of your personal brand and places your skills and expertise in context. Review regularly.
- Join Groups
Joining groups of users with similar experiences, jobs and interests is a great way to reach more people and resources. Be discriminatory. Join those groups that are relevant to your sector, your network, your profession and get involved. Join conversations, post questions and comments and you will soon develop a profile and contacts in your desired sector.
Linkedin Fact #3·The three most popular groups are the Irish Executives Group, the Irish Business and Professional Network and the Engineers Ireland Official Group.
If using LinkedIn for hiring or job seeking purposes, you may not always want colleagues or perspective employees to know what you are up to. Privacy settings allow you to control what others view when you click their profile; both your name and the first line of your profile or total anonymity. However, should you chose anonymity; you won’t be able to see who has viewed your profile. This can be easily reversed.
10. Building on this
From now on, make LinkedIn part of your business behaviour. Make it a habit to send a LinkedIn request to someone after you have met them. However, it’s a big no-no to send the generic invite, much better to personalise it saying where you met them and why you should keep in touch.
Want to find out more? Check out my Linkedin Board on Pinterest, which has lots of guidance on how to get the most out of LinkedIn for you and your business.
About the author: Suzanne Shaw, MBA, is an independent marketing professional with 20 years’ experience in developing and implementing business development, marketing and communications strategies working in a wide range of sectors and businesses, from startups to SMES and large corporations.