LinkedIn is the most valuable tool available to you for expanding your connections, presenting yourself as a professional and most importantly, growing your career. With over 600 million profiles, LinkedIn provides uncapped opportunities for professional growth, as long as you are using it correctly!
Firstly, how is your profile looking?
Your profile should represent you as a brand, showcasing exactly what you can offer potential employers and emphasising successes in your current or previous roles.
It is important that your profile picture presents the image you want to get across. Ideally, it should be current, smiley and professional.
Make sure the clothes you are wearing are smart and the photo is not heavily edited, as it should look like the ‘real you’.
Employers often do a social media sweep after reading your CV so make sure that your profile photo on all social media platforms is work-friendly too. You can also create a personalised header photo which should complement your profile, if you are a business owner or freelancer, your logo could go there.
But if not, perhaps a neutral image or one that relates to your industry would work well.
Next, create a headline. Imagine your profile is on the front page of The Times.
How would you summarise your role to thousands of people? In just 120 characters, explain precisely what role you provide in your job. A great example would be ‘I help businesses enhance their online marketing through social media’ as it is clear, concise and straight to the point.
After creating an eye-catching headline, write a summary of yourself.
You have 2000 characters to use but because of this, many people make the mistake of detailing their entire professional past. Instead, briefly explain your current role and employer, making sure to emphasise an element of your job that you are passionate about the most.
If you are lacking experience or are currently unemployed, add this sentence to the end of your summary, ‘looking to gain experience in (insert industry or role)’. That way, you are being upfront about your desire to get into the industry without pretending that you have more experience than you do.
Many people do not put in the necessary time and effort to research how to create an effective LinkedIn profile.
This often means they treat it the same as a CV and go into way too much detail. Remember that your profile can complement your CV so only add in relevant work experience.
No one needs to know about the time you did a paper round in 2005! Highlight your successes and use strong numerical figures to emphasise them, such as ‘I was in control of a £100,000 budget’ or ‘I delivered marketing strategies for 200+ clients’, all of this will contribute to your profile viewers seeing you as a successful professional.
LinkedIn is very simple, the more connections you have, the more often you appear on other people’s feeds. Think of it as a virtual business card organiser.
Start by connecting with colleagues from your current and previous roles, LinkedIn will then recommend you other people in the same industry or location, making it easier for you to network locally.
You never know when a colleague from a job five years ago might get in contact about a role needed at their current company. During these current times, networking in person is very difficult so getting to grips with doing it online is the best way to increase your contacts and progress your career.
LinkedIn has a specific way of ordering your connections.
Essentially, 1st-degree connections are people you are already connected with, either you sent them a request, or they sent you one. 2nd-degree connections are ‘mutual friends’ who are connected to one of your 1st-degree connections.
Finally, 3rd-degree connections are connected with your 2nd-degree connections, so they are the ‘friends’ of your ‘mutual friends’. At first it may seem confusing, but once you understand the different connection levels you can use LinkedIn to your advantage, connecting with people in similar roles or working for similar companies.
The final way to make connections would be to join groups, the ‘discover groups’ feature on LinkedIn makes it really easy to find people to network with and discuss industry news.
One example would be the ‘Harvard Business Review Discussion Group’ which currently has over 2 million members. Not only will this help you keep up to date on what is going on in the industry, but it provides you with the opportunity to put yourself out there to people all over the world.
However, if you are looking to network more locally, it is just as easy to find a group that combines both your industry and location, like ‘Social Media Midlands’.
Finding a job
Where else can you directly contact the CEO of a company? Perhaps Jeff Bezos will not get back to you, but smaller business owners certainly will! Putting yourself out there is the key to career growth and with LinkedIn’s handy ‘Open to Work’ option, you can let recruiters and potential employers know you are looking for work without alerting your current employer.
If you have applied for a job or are interested in a particular company, make sure you follow them on LinkedIn. Not only will they post company news and updates, but you will find out when a job is being advertised.
Next, connect with the head of recruitment or people in the department you are interested in working in. Just remember, if you are connecting with someone you haven’t met, send a message with your request, something like ‘Hi (insert name), I’m currently looking for work in (insert industry), it would be great to connect.’
LinkedIn is great for getting your name out there and can even help when employers search for you on Google as your profile will often rise to the top of searches.
In order to optimise this, you might want to change your other social media usernames to something more unique or simply use your first and middle name. You want your LinkedIn profile to be the first to appear, not your Instagram.
Additionally, LinkedIn provides you with a personalised URL which acts similarly to a website, so you can insert it as a footer on your emails or add it to your CV.
The key to a polished profile is to utilise all the unique tools and features LinkedIn has to offer, which includes the Skills and Endorsements section. This is where your connections can choose from a list of qualities such as leadership, relationship building and team management to describe your skills and work ethic.
The recommendation feature is also highly effective as it allows you to request people to review you and your work.
Do not be afraid to ask for a recommendation, as long as you engage regularly with your connections and offer to write them one in return, they will be happy to write one for you. A completely personalised testimonial is possibly the most effective way to illustrate your capabilities as your peers can confirm the skills you claim to have and endorse you.
To use LinkedIn successfully, make sure that you are consistently engaging with others.
You need to consider it of equal importance to Instagram and Facebook so make sure you dedicate a couple of hours each week to being active on it. Just like any other social media platform, people share images, articles and stories on their feed.
You can like, comment and share these to increase engagement and effectively network.
If you have something to say or a story to share, post it on your feed and engage with any responses you receive. However, you must remember than LinkedIn is a work-friendly platform so use a professional tone of voice in any writing you choose to do.
Facebook is the place to share funny videos, LinkedIn is the place to create your corporate image, so make sure you use it correctly.
LinkedIn is a fantastic platform that you should be using whether you are happy in your current role, employed and looking for work or simply in-between jobs. You never know when someone might view your profile and get in touch about your dream role so make sure it is up to date and professional throughout.
LinkedIn offers so many unique features to really help you to present yourself as a brand, so make sure you are utilising all of them.
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