LinkedIn is a powerful tool for upwardly mobile business professionals. From building a network to landing their next great job, LinkedIn can be a reliable and efficient resource. But some users leverage this tool more successfully than others. What do they know that you don’t? Here we share some insights from social media pros and business professionals who have built a strong presence through LinkedIn.
Building Your Profile
Treat your LinkedIn “headline” as your online elevator pitch, says Chaim Shapiro, a career expert, and director of student success at Touro College. “This is the most valuable real estate in all of social media. LinkedIn will default to your job title for your headline. It is essential that you change it!”
Skylar Whitney, a public relations professional, agrees and recommends going beyond simply using your LinkedIn profile to outline your previous work experience. “In the description box for each position, break your role down into your main tasks and further explain your achievements for each. As a public relations professional, my job consists of media relations, social media, content creation, account management and more. By spelling out each of those tasks within the current position and including metrics to back them up, future employers and recruiters can see where my talents lie.”
Use the “skills” section wisely, recommends Shapiro. While you can add up to 50 skills, only the first three will show up on your profile. “Choose those three wisely as they are the most likely to be seen,” he recommends.
And, don’t overlook the power of recommendations says Laura Handrick, careers analyst for FitSmallBusiness.com. “As an HR professional, I always view a candidate’s skills and endorsements because it’s important to me to see that others validate what they claim to be their expertise.” The section she finds most valuable—recommendations. “That’s where I can read testimonials of what others say this person is good at.” Many LinkedIn users don’t use this section, she says, even though it’s easy enough to do. “Click on the ‘Ask for a recommendation’ option whenever a peer, client or customer praises you in any way. You’ll get it in writing. You can then use these recommendations in your marketing materials or job applications.”
Social media is a visual communication channel and, in a digital world, people are becoming increasingly more visually oriented. Take advantage of that tendency in your LinkedIn profile, recommends Shapiro.
First, create a background image with your personal brand in mind. “Everything about your LinkedIn profile should sell you and your skills,” says Shapiro. “Personalize your background image so that it helps you promote your skills.”
In addition, Shapiro suggests that LinkedIn users take advantage of rich media content. “People are very visual. Rich media content allows you to add a visual component to your brand,” he says. Include things like PowerPoint presentations and personalized videos to help promote your brand.”
It may go without saying, but let’s say it: make sure you use a professional image for your photo—not a selfie, and not a picture of you and your pet or significant others.
Connect With, Follow and Engage With Others
LinkedIn’s value increases exponentially as your connections and followers grow. In fact, the more people you’re connected to, the more likely you are to show up when recruiters are searching for people like you.
“To have a strong presence on LinkedIn, your goal should be to connect interact, engage and to learn,” says Christina D. Warner, healthcare marketer at a Top Fortune 500 and columnist for Thrive Global. “Connect with people, and don’t be afraid to accept new connections,” she recommends. “When you are sending an invitation, make sure to send a little note with it. In the note highlight the following: who you are, how do you know them, why are you sending the connection request.”
Maintain consistent, steady and strategic interactions with your network, Warner advises. “On a daily or regular basis, scroll through your LinkedIn and keep an eye out for birthdays, anniversaries or new jobs,” she says. “Like their posts and/or send a private direct message. For anniversaries, you can say something along the lines of ‘Congratulations! How are you still liking the position?’ For new jobs, you can ‘Congratulations! Well Deserved! Please keep me posted and let me know how I can help.’ And for birthdays, a simple ‘Happy Birthday! Best wishes for a new year’ will work, or anything along those lines.”
“The best way to get noticed on LinkedIn is to keep your content calendar flowing,” says Chelsey Puza, marketing, and social media manager at WinterWyman. “LinkedIn’s algorithm is constantly pushing relevant reading material to their followers—make sure you’re part of the conversation by sharing industry-relevant news and engaging with your followers by liking and commenting on posts. “This doesn’t have to take a lot of time, she says. “Consider this the next time you’re on the train or sitting in the coffee house on your phone—it takes just a minute or two to share a post of like a blog.”
Thoughtful interactions can help you stand out. Look for other opportunities to engage with your connections. “A like is nice, but not always impactful,” says Warner. “The most impact is a direct response or a direct share. Endorse others, write recommendations, respond in groups.”
And, speaking of groups, join some. In fact, you can and should join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn. As with connections, your membership in groups will expand both your potential to be found in searches and your ability to find others. When joining groups, you have the option to display the group logo on your profile—or not. You also have the option to choose what messages and notifications you wish to receive.
Here are some additional tips and tricks for using LinkedIn most effectively.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Make sure to use the “open candidate” feature in LinkedIn to signal recruiters that you are actively looking for work, Shapiro recommends. “Recent changes to LinkedIn even allow you to target your specific companies of choice in open candidates.”
Ryan Underwood, a digital marketing executive with YourParkingSpace offers an SEO tip to optimize your LinkedIn presence. “A little trick that is often overlooked when creating a LinkedIn profile is to customize the URL,” he says. “Ideally, you should edit the URL to: linkedin.com/yourname.” It may seem like a little thing but, Underwood says: “It’s one that can make a difference when you’re trying to prove yourself out there in the ultra-competitive job-seeking environment.”
Handrick shares a “free 30-day” hack to access LinkedIn Premium. “Whenever you need to reach out to individuals for sales, recruiting, or job hunting you can do it all at once, for free. Sign up for the LinkedIn Premium account that’s best for you. It’s free for 30-days; then cancel the account immediately. You’ll still have access to the premium features for the entire 30-days and won’t have to worry about being charged after the 30-day trial period. Use that 30-days to make your contact all at once.”
Finally, this may seem basic, but you’d be surprised how many people fail to do this one very important thing: clearly indicate how others can get in touch with you! “Include your preferred contact details in the Edit Contact Info or Summary section of your profile, not just down at the bottom under Advice for Contacting,” Puza recommends. “Use a non-work address and make sure it’s appropriate—unlike firstname.lastname@example.org.”