LinkedIn is best known for being a space for professionals to vie for career enhancement, but LinkedIn is really so much more.
Opportunities for Employment and Advancement
LinkedIn is the best social media platform to showcase your professional identity. A good resume should be tailored to a specific opportunity, but LinkedIn can describe, in a highly engaging manner, all of your professional experiences, skills, and interests. Your profile can be crafted to engage recruiters or peers and set you up for employment or advancement. Keywords, total profile completion, lots of activity, and relevant content are the best way to create a professional profile with high visibility.
Before your LinkedIn account can bring you professional success, you must clearly identify what your goal is and how you plan to accomplish your goal. All of your LinkedIn activity must contribute to this agenda. It’s easy to become distracted on LinkedIn, like any other social media platform. Any business goal requires focused and consistent attention for success. Here are five main action categories for an ambitious LinkedIn user.
Your Profile needs to be stuffed full of information about you, where you’ve worked, what you accomplished, what your skills are and relevant professional interests like volunteerism. This is one of the few spaces where it’s ok to brag. Be honest though. LinkedIn offers many tools to help you fill out your profile and assess the strength of your profile. Be as thorough and as precise as you can when describing your positions, responsibilities, experiences, and skills.
Create a list of keywords that relate to your skills, profession, accomplishment, and ambitions. Use these words and phrases throughout your profile. Your heading and your summary are particularly important as these are weighted in LinkedIn’s search engine.
A great LinkedIn branding profile feature enables users to display samples of work, images, video and more. This feature can make your LinkedIn profile more interactive and highly visually engaging.
Like Facebook, users in your first-degree network are notified when you like or comment on another’s content and when you post a status update. This can be adjusted in your privacy and security settings. The status update is an excellent tool to distribute industry relevant or professionally interesting content. Your comments, ‘liked’ content and status updates indicate to your network that you are active in your professional specialization.
Group members are notified when you participate in a forum. Good participation might include asking or answering an industry related question, contributing to a conversation, posting an interesting article, etc. Participation in groups is a wonderful way to meet your peers and make new connections.
Third degree connections can now also see your activity when they visit your profile. It’s important to keep your activity professional and relevant (no sick dog updates, no complaints about the office etc.). 3rd degree connections are often your industry peers and might be interested in connecting with you if you have active and insightful content.
There is some debate on how active a strong LinkedIn user should be. General consensus indicates up to two article or ‘large’ content posts a day and at least one a week. Any more than 2 large posts a day risks the appearance of spam, and any less than once a week risks poor visibility. Where you choose to fall in this range should be determined by the activity of your audience; you want to stay on top of the media stream, not dominate the media stream.
First, determine what information, activities, industries and locations are of most interest to your audience- your network. Typically relevant content incudes trends in your industry, activity by companies in your industry, industry thought leaders’ opinions and tips, new trends for the workplace, internet, technology, or social media, regional, national or international events, industry fairs, tradeshows or conferences, associations or conferences you participated in, etc. Use common sense before posting content or opinions about politics or religion. Screen regional, national, international and industry news for content that might be relevant to your network.
Second, determine what is not relevant. Personal or family issues, religious or political beliefs, your economic or medical condition are typically not relevant. LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s not for personal or trivial content.
Third, consider what might be of interest. Do you have a hobby, skill, or interest that is not directly related to your work but could be used in a professional setting? Some examples of this could be musical instruments, creative writing, artistic endeavors, architecture, gardening, photography, design, dog breeding/ training, cooking, and map-making to name just a tiny fraction. The trick is to relate these to a professional, regional or industry setting- not a personal setting. Here are some examples. Musical instruments: “there’s a rise in US businesses making traditional musical instruments” or “more workplaces are favorably considering applicants with musical skills”. Not how your daughter had a recital last night and she played ‘chopsticks’ at half speed. Gardening: “more workplaces put effort into landscaping and indoor plant arrangement.” Not about how your roses were attacked by killer slugs. Cooking: “more private schools are hiring catering companies to ensure nutritious, quality meals” or “xxx chef celebrity planned the menu for industry gala”. Not about how you make awesome cakes.
The most important asset that LinkedIn provides is an organized professional network. Everything else is icing to the cake of your professional network. LinkedIn filters your people related searches according to who is in your network. The wider your network the more group and 3rd degree industry peers you can find. By this token, a strong network is one where every individual has taken the time to connect with former classmates and colleagues as well as clients and employed family. The basis of any network should be people you actually know: past and present classmates, colleagues and clients as well as employed family, friends and association or society acquaintances. Joining industry or interest themed groups is an excellent way to expand your network and meet new industry peers.
Having a strong network is not just a bragging right; it is also a strategic advantage. Strong and large are sometimes but not always the same thing. A network of hundreds of people who don’t know you from Adam will be far less useful than 50 connected people in your industry. On the flipside, the larger your network the more aggregated exposure you have. The original purpose of networking is to meet people, be remembered and build relationships of mutual benefit. Try to avoid ‘collecting’ people simply to have a large network. Connections are not like antiques or trading cards: they are to be engaged with, not amassed and squirreled away. The relationships you build from your connections might become the foundation for your career advancement.
Reap the Rewards
These actions also enable recruiters and peers to find you. LinkedIn’s search engine favors profiles that are complete, have wide networks and use specific and relevant key words. LinkedIn users favor people with profile pictures, well written sections, frequent updates and interesting content and are involved in groups.