A few of my connections on LinkedIn asked me to put together my top tips for getting the most out of the social networking platform. I’ve been an avid LinkedIn user since 2006 with almost 1500 connections and last year according to LinkedIn my profile was in the Top 2% of most viewed but I don’t consider myself to be an expert. In fact I find I’m learning something new almost everyday from another connection, user or from one of the many informative and interesting articles on LinkedIn.
So here goes, Lani’s top tips in no particular order for getting the most out of LinkedIn.
1. No Desktop Selfiez. By far the most common tip I give out has to do with the first thing people look at when viewing your profile, your photo. So many people use the webcam on their laptop/desktop to take “Selfiez” of themselves. To date I haven’t seen a single one that looks professional. Whether you are using LinkedIn to further your career, improve your personal brand or promote your business, a professional photo or even a good one taken by someone else is a must.
2. Your headline should represent you..not your current role and employer. The most popular use for the “Headline” field on a LinkedIn profile is for your current role eg, Chief Technology Officer at XYZ or CyberSecurity Specialist at ABCD. Makes sense right? Not to me. Your current role isn’t you and for most it’s temporary, whether that is measured in months or years. My belief is your “Headline” should say something about you and your personal brand not your role and employer.
Also related to this is your updates to your profile and contributions to others shouldn’t read as an advertisement for your organisation, unless you run the company that is. Your profile is your identity, your personal brand so balance your desire to promote your current employer with the need to promote your personal brand.
3. Be specific about recommendations. Asking for recommendations is a no-brainer, it improves your profile and elevates your personal brand in the eyes of prospective employers and your peers. But how many of us are specific when asking for recommendations? If someone has been kind enough to write a recommendation for you then be specific on what you’re looking for whether it’s highlighting your leadership, technical or relationship skills. Your recommendations should support your personal brand eg, If you are a dynamic, relationship focused business executive then your recommendations should include ones that testify to your dynamism in business or how you build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders etc.
4.Activity breeds success. Only checking or updating your feed when you’re looking for a job is usually too late. Put aside a few minutes a day to contribute to updates from your connections or if you have the time, to one of the groups that you subscribe to as it accomplishes three main things. Firstly, it gives you exposure to connections outside your immediate network ie, 2nd and 3rd level connections. Secondly, it gives you an opportunity to continue to promote your personal brand. Your updates and contributions should be consistent with what you represent. Lastly it keeps you informed of changes in your network and industry in general.
5. Recruit Recruiters as connections. I’ve found Recruiters who are among my connections as the most active on the LinkedIn network. LinkedIn is a recruitment and talent acquisition platform for them so they advertise their own and their connections roles. They also search LinkedIn for talent and if you have kept in contact with them, a short message every now and then takes less than a minute, they will usually keep tabs on you. If a fantastic role is available, guess who they are more likely to contact?
6. Ask your Recruitment connections to review your profile. I was going to include this as part of “5″ but I thought it important enough to have on its own. If you have some Recruitment connections your trust then ask them to review your profile and suggest changes. After all, who best to advise you than those who spend most time on LinkedIn and is their job to find the best talent available?
7. The rule of 3. I must give credit where credit is due, this tip isn’t mine and I came across this when a 2nd level connection put an update on his profile criticising and generalising the Recruitment industry as a whole. Within a day he had 20 comments, mainly disagreeing with him and most of them were Recruiters. Imagine how many thousands of LinkedIn users would’ve seen his naïve update? I checked back 3 days later to see how the thread was going and his profile had been deleted. Talk about career limiting move. Anyway Mary E Clark included her rule of 3 which I’ve added to my own must do’s on LinkedIn. Rule 1. Is it true? Rule 2. Is it necessary? Rule 3. Is it kind? If it’s a NO to any of those, then don’t post it.
8. If you walk like a duck and talk like a duck.. I’m not going to get all Lao Tzu on you, although though the Tao Te Ching is a book I read over and over again. Again I must give credit where credit is due to Aaron McEwan for teaching this to me many years ago. It’s probably the single most important piece of career advice I’ve ever received.
You would have noticed that I mention throughout this post about a ”personal brand”. Before putting your profile together, work out what yours is. Ask yourself, who am I? and what do I want to represent as my personal statement or brand for my career? Your profile should be constructed around this and your updates to your profile and contributions to others and groups needs to consistently represent this.