5 Beginners Tips on How to Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a growing and versatile platform. But like all social media platforms it has its own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. Because this is a business focused networking platform I for one was very wary on doing very much on it lest it have some negative effect on my career. Taking the poise of, better to have no profile than a bad profile.
So, before embarking on my LinkedIn endeavours I fished around for a few beginners best practices and advice on the best ways to begin using it.
The World of LinkedIn and How to Use it Effectively
1. Make a great profile.
This may seem obvious, but what exactly is a great profile? This isn’t like Twitter or Facebook, people have more time on this platform to work out who you are. The more you say on your profile the more people will know.
The most important parts are, of course, your picture, headline, and name. This is what people see most often, so it’s worth taking a little bit of time on this.
The picture should be, depending on your industry, as professional as possible. Obviously, if you’re aiming for a job in a hipster craft beer brewery, a professional head-shot in a suit and tie may not be the look you want to promote. However, if you work in large corporates, then suit up and maybe think about getting a professional head-shot done.
A succinct and compelling headline. You only have 120 characters here so treat it as a mini elevator pitch. Who are you? What are your skills? Be creative and readable and use industry keywords.
2. Use your LinkedIn profile like an extension of your resume.
As I mentioned before, people have more time to browse and discover who you are on LinkedIn. So don’t just list your job titles; you were a marketing executive? Okay, that could mean a whole plethora of things...
Fill out the job description area, talk about your career successes and focus on the results you gave. There are also spaces to upload evidence of your work, PDFs, YouTube Videos, Word Docs. Fill these out and complete additional sections like the relevant skills section, courses, certifications etc.
3. When you’ve got your profile ready, strategically connect with others.
Connect with people you know, professional contacts, personal friends, old classmates and former co-workers. The bigger your network of contacts the better. Even if they aren’t a potential employer or client, they may have connections that could be.
However, don’t just connect with every random person who will accept you request. Target your connections to potentially helpful people in your industry.
Getting the connections is the next step. You want to send personalised messages as supposed to the generic message, “Hi, I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn.”
If you’re new to an industry or could benefit from this potential contact more than he or she could benefit from you, use the Get Introduced tool, in which you ask a current connection to introduce you to one of theirs. If you think the potential contact will perceive that he or she could benefit from knowing you as well, then you can probably just message the person directly. However, you'll be limited to 300 characters whereas introductions have no character limit.
If the person seems to have a less permissive policy around connecting on LinkedIn, then you may want to get a “real” introduction as it were by mentioning your interest in meeting this person to mutual friends. Or another way is to engage them on another platform that they are more active on. For example follow them on twitter and send them a direct message. Or email them directly.
It has been found that people are more likely to respond if you research on LinkedIn and then reach out through a non-LinkedIn platform.
4. Once you’ve built a valuable network, start snooping.
This is one of the best ways to use LinkedIn. You can get quite a lot of research done and find out quite a lot about the people and work culture behind a company. Does that company have a large staff turn-over, or do they have lots of long-standing employees?
This can work the other way round too, if you are the employer. You might not be entirely sure about this candidate, but see that one of your connections knows them and do a bit of reconnaissance.
You can also use LinkedIn even if you’re not looking at a specific job by exploring specific industries or companies. Do a search for the industry or company and then see which of your colleagues could introduce you to someone who works there via LinkedIn or in real life.
5. Stay active
This is a pretty across the board social media top tip.
Keep your profile up to date and stay active on the platform. Remind your contacts that you’re still in the game, things are going well. Update with all your accomplishments and continue growing your network. Share relevant links and generally don’t be afraid to toot your own horn a little bit.