LinkedIn is one of the most powerful social networking and marketing tools currently available. It is free to join and provides access to connect with thousands of business professionals and like-minded people in many industries.
LinkedIn is used for a variety of different purposes. Whether you are looking for a new job, connecting with new people in your industry or posting new content through self-published articles or group conversations, LinkedIn provides the tools to brand yourself as a leader in your industry.
While LinkedIn is a great resource, it can be difficult to know how to leverage it properly. Have you ever logged into your account and seen the thousands of articles, comments, job posts, etc. and not known where to begin?
What course of action will yield the best results? How can I use LinkedIn to achieve my professional and personal goals?
There is an art to leveraging the tools on LinkedIn to work for you. Here are some ways to make the most out of your LinkedIn account.
Have a Complete Profile
Your profile is the most important piece. It is your online presence on LinkedIn. It presents your experience and qualifications and allows people to find you on the site. Everything you do on LinkedIn (i.e. write an article, post a job, comment in a group, etc.) ties back to your profile.
As a result, it is important to have a complete profile that visitors can read and browse. A basic profile should have the following:
A strong, preferable professional profile picture
An strong 120 character eye-catching headline or title
A 60-75 word summary of your experience and skills
A full complete experience and education area
A more in-depth profile can include aspects like a list of organizations you belong to, recommendations from past and current clients, co-workers and fellow connections, certifications and publications.
After you have completed your profile, you must maintain it. This is probably one of the most important principles of LinkedIn. For example, having experiences and projects that are over 10+ years old demonstrates to visitors that your profile is not regularly maintained. In fact, if you are using LinkedIn to find a new job, having old qualifications on your profile can actually work against you as prospective recruiters and employers are not getting a sense of your recent accomplishments.
So, when starting your LinkedIn journey, make sure to complete your profile and maintain it!
Network, Connect & Participate
One of the primary functions of LinkedIn is to meet and network with other people. If you do not put yourself out there, you are not getting the full benefit of the site.
What’s great about LinkedIn is its referral-based nature, more often than not you will find people you know on the site. Whether they are friends or co-workers, extending an invitation and connecting with them helps to build your network.
LinkedIn allows you to make new friends from your old friends. By classifying users as 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree connections, you can determine who knows who and leverage these relationships to obtain introductions.
Creating new connections on LinkedIn can lead to new business opportunities, friendships, etc. It is a great way to reestablish
relationships with people you already know and presents the opportunity to meet new people.
In addition to connecting, participation is also a big part of LinkedIn. Contributing to LinkedIn Group conversations, posting new articles, and commenting on other people’s work are all forms of participation. This is another way for possible connections to get to know you and encourage them to visit your profile or extend an invitation to connect.
Remember that LinkedIn is an Investment
LinkedIn is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to generate success, you need to give it time and have patience. While it might be tempting to accept every connection request, you should practice restraint. Connecting with people you know, people you meet at events or conferences, or are recommended by others goes a long way towards leveraging those connections later on.
The good news is if you are willing to put in the time and effort, LinkedIn can do wonderful things for your professional and personal career. So, for those of you already on LinkedIn, keep up the good work and remember to update your profile and connect with others. For those of you who are not on LinkedIn, we hope to see you soon!