Happy 10th Birthday, LinkedIn!
It’s the professional social site’s 10th Birthday this week. Wow, how time flies!
In honour of that momentous occasion, we’ve put together 10 Tips that will help you make more effective use of LinkedIn.
We start with a piece of advice that isn’t counted as one of our tips but is the basic starting point for everyone on LinkedIn:
Yes, your profile may be long (unless you’re just starting your first job). Yes, it can onerous to transfer all your information from your CV to LinkedIn (and that’s just the beginning). But a 100% Complete Profile (or as near as you can get to that blissful state) will see your LinkedIn page rise to the top of Google search results if anyone is searching for you by name; and a complete profile will also ensure that those prospective customers, clients or employers will be able to see the complete you when they visit you virtually on LinkedIn.
You only have yourself to blame if your LinkedIn profile doesn’t present the very best summary of who you are and what you can do for a prospect.
Now let’s turn to those ten tips. We start with Keywords.
LinkedIn has more than 200 million members — and a little over 829,000 of them are Kiwis. So the only way you’re going to get found amongst all those people on LinkedIn is through keywords. Identify the keywords that are relevant to those who you want to be found by, and work them into your Headline, your Summary and elsewhere in your Profile.
Speaking of your Headline, by default it’s simply the title of your current job (see the example of Sepi Bordian, above). Change that immediately, adding in relevant keywords and put in a customer benefit as well, just as Mikhail Pomeliako has done. Your choice whether you want to be as modest as Mikhail.
Social Proof is all the range, thanks to Facebook, TripAdvisor et al. On LinkedIn, such proof takes the form of Endorsements and the more powerful Recommendations. If you expect to receive Recommendations, start by giving them — to current and former clients, suppliers and colleagues. As the Bible has it, “Give and Ye Shall Receive” (Luke 6:38).
One of the most effective ways to get noticed and build your reputation on LinkedIn is to join groups — and then participate in the life of the group. Don’t just join any groups though (LinkedIn restricts you to a maximum of fifty groups) — join groups where your prospects hang out. And then contribute to those groups, commenting, answering questions and generally becoming a valuable part of that virtual community. You may think nobody will notice you — but they will, if you actively participate. And if you’ve chosen your groups wisely, group members (AKA Hot Prospects) will think of you when it comes time for them to look around for suppliers for their next project or for potential employees.
As we mentioned above, Keywords are vital if you want to get found on LinkedIn. But there’s also another HUGE factor that determines whether or not you’re found: are you connected to the searcher, as what LinkedIn calls a 1st, 2nd or 3rd connection [what we might call (1) a friend, (2) a friend of a friend or (3) a friend of a friend of a friend]?
The closer the connection, the higher you’re likely to appear in that person’s search results. So you owe it to yourself to connect with as many people as you can (always taking into account that you need to actually KNOW the person you’re trying to connect with on LinkedIn). Make as many (relevant) connections as you can and you’ll show up more often in searches as a result.
We’ve already noted that LinkedIn hates it when you try to connect with people you don’t know. There’s one exception, however: LIONs. A LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) invites connections from everyone — it’s a great way to expand the reach of your network. LIONs are less numerous in New Zealand, however, so if your market is NZ only, connecting with LIONs may not be effective for you.
Your photo is really important on LinkedIn — a picture sells a thousand words. In the example above, the first photo is Bad because we can’t tell anything about Andy from the photo (except perhaps a fondness for plaid shirts) — Andy’s photo is too small to see his face clearly. The second photo is fine — a nice clear closeup, visible at the small size that features in search results. The third photo isn’t great, because Mike’s face is again difficult to see clearly. We’ve also seen photos on LinkedIn of two women standing together (and we had no idea which was the subject of the LinkedIn profile). Go for sharp, clear closeups. Save the personal stuff for Facebook — LinkedIn photos should be promoting Brand You.
A LinkedIn Profile is NOT a CV. Even though some of the elements (eg listings of previous roles) start out the same, they should be treated differently. For example, as in the example above, this person had a sales training role in London. Clearly, he wants to promote that aspect, so the description of that previous job includes a title stuffed with keywords. We don’t recommend you go that far — search engines penalise such obvious stuffing — but you shouldn’t settle for just a generic job title either. Use the space to sell your achievements in each role, current or past (taking care to be honest and accurate, of course).
For instance, instead of saying “Sales Trainer”, you might create a title for that job that describes your role as “Sales Trainer leading a team responsible for tripling sales volumes in Greater China in 3 years”. Don’t expect your visitors to read the small print on past roles — at most they’ll just flick through the job titles. Use those to highlight your achievements.
One of the more recent innovations on LinkedIn is the Skills & Experience section, which enables you to specify your skills and experience (doh!), which your connections then endorse.
It’s important that you focus your Skills & Experience on those that are relevant to your prospects. Why? Apart from the obvious — prospects who visit your Profile page want to see that you have the right skills to meet their needs — it’s also apparent that LinkedIn uses the Skills & Experience endorsements as another factor in search results. If someone, for example, is looking for Digital Strategy as a keyword, and you have that skill listed but you haven’t received many endorsements for that skill, you’ll be further down the list of results in a search for the keyword Digital Strategy than if it was your most-endorsed skill.
Avoid filling out your Summary till last, and understand this: despite the title, it shouldn’t actually be a summary of your profile but rather a summary of your achievements and how you can help your prospects. Refresh your Summary regularly, adding in new achievements that are relevant to your prospects.
And, of course, if your prospect targeting changes (if for example you move to a different job role), you’ll need to revisit your Summary (and indeed every aspect of your Profile) to ensure that your LinkedIn presentation is still relevant to your new focus.
Follow those Ten LinkedIn Tips and you’ll be well on your way to using LinkedIn effectively.
PS We’ve drawn these top ten tips from our online training course “How To Use LinkedIn Effectively – For Your Business And Your Career”. If you’d like to improve the way you use LinkedIn, sign up for the course.