If you’re looking to build your personal brand, further your career, job search, or start your own business, it’s important that you know what social networking sites to leverage. And luckily, LinkedIn is here to offer you all your business and career needs with its extensive public profile.
Ready to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile? Let's start with the basics.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social networking site geared towards professionals. It’s a platform that connects you with colleagues, peers, any given company, and future employers. It’s an online resume, only better. It was designed for use in business, connecting people with a prospective employer, recruiters, fellow employees, and other professionals.
With LinkedIn, you create a professional profile where you list your goals, skills, contact info like email address, job experience, job title, education history, hobbies, ideals, and any other information that would be useful to the professional world. Users can post their own articles, share others’ content, send messages, and connect with individuals across the globe.
The site launched in 2003, and has since seen exponential growth in members, profit, and influence. If you’re a job seeker in the working world, you need to have a LinkedIn profile.
Why is LinkedIn important?
In the digital world of today, we are acquiring almost all of our information from the internet via laptops, smartphones, and tablets. We spend most of our time reading through online articles and swiping through social media platforms. For this reason alone, it only makes sense that your professional profile is online for the world, and potential employers, to easily access.
Outside of the physical presence the site has, LinkedIn has the ability to grow your network and personal brand with ease. In seconds, you can see dozens of possible connections from your past and present with a few clicks of a mouse. It makes the process of networking easier than ever, affording you more opportunities than flooding the market with resumes and attending alumni networking events ever could.
Also, with LinkedIn you have a cornucopia of information at your fingertips, from blog posts to professional articles that offer helpful tips, career advice, and insights into the world on a global scale.
And not to mention, most employers use LinkedIn for hiring purposes, so being on LinkedIn gives you easy access to job applications, making scoring that next interview even easier.
What are LinkedIn endorsements?
LinkedIn endorsement were introduced to the site in 2012, and quickly became one of the most popular features on this professional networking tool. To take advantage of this feature, you first have to make sure you have listed all of your skills — and make sure they’re plentiful, because you can have up to 50! The more skills you list, the more endorsements you can receive from fellow users. Add these skills to the Featured Skills & Endorsements section of your profile. Then, you wait, or ask fellow contacts to endorse these skills. This means that they are essentially vouching for this specific skill. And you don’t even have to reach out to them! They can do it all on their own, and it’s sometimes easier than having someone take the time to write a recommendation.
Increase your endorsements by doing some of your own while you’re at it. This is a great way to recognize employees and build up your professional network. This will broaden their network by allowing others to find them when searching for specific skills, and it strengthens existing connections that could be useful in the future.
Unfortunately, only 1st degree connections can endorse skills at this time.
What are LinkedIn influencers?
LinkedIn influencers are an invite-only group of the world’s brightest thinkers, entrepreneurs, leaders, innovators, and creators. There are over 500 LinkedIn influencers that cross countless industries and locations. These are some of the world’s greatest minds, and they all work together to create amazing, insightful, and thought-provoking content. Topics range from education, to environmental protection, to global politics, and business insights. There is no end to the content they provide, and getting involved in these conversations is highly encouraged. All LinkedIn members are able to like, comment, and share this content. They are encouraged to continue the conversation with questions, rebuttals, and insights all their own.
LinkedIn influencers are analyzed yearly. Sometimes people are added, and other times people are removed depending on what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve contributed, and what their members are interested in learning about.
As this is an elite, invite-only group, they don’t accept applications. If you want to make the list, start thinking big!
What’s so important about LinkedIn summaries?
LinkedIn summaries are probably the first hard piece of information a prospective employer or colleague will look at on your profile. It is the meat of your profile — one of the most important bios you will ever write about yourself (no pressure). This summary is your life, your soul, your creativity, so take it seriously. Don’t make the mistake of regurgitating your resume or your mission statement, as that’s not what the LinkedIn summary is all about. No, the LinkedIn summary is about who you are as a human being. Of course, it is supposed to be professional and career-centered, but it is also supposed to showcase who you are as an individual. Mention what company you worked for, your desired job title, and your email address, but also include little insights into your personality and character.
When writing your summary, it’s vital that you know your audience. Find out what kind of professional you want reading your summary and direct it to them. And to find the right jargon and keywords, look to other professionals and even job posting to find the words that fit just right.
Another key piece of information? The first 90-200 characters are likely the most important characters you’ll ever write when it comes to LinkedIn. On mobile, the first 90 characters show up before having to click for more while on desktop you get 200. So get quippy.
Still stuck? It’s ok to peek at a professional role model’s summary to get a feel for what they’re saying. In fact, take some time and do some research. You’ll understand what makes a good summary, a bad summary, and where your current summary stands.
How do you pick the perfect LinkedIn photo?
Another vital part of your LinkedIn account is your profile picture. It’s the first things users see when clicking on your profile, and a good photo can make or break a connection or potential employer. Ideally you’d have a professional headshot as your profile picture, but as a full-fledged photoshoot can get pricey, it’s important to follow a few tips and tricks to ensure your photo is optimized for maximum exposure.
When posing for a headshot, make sure you don’t have a background that is too distracting or overwhelming. This could turn people away and keep you from being the true focal point of the picture. It’s also important that your face takes up the majority of the photo. This should not be a full-body shot, but a head shot. It should feature your entire head and part of your shoulders.
Speaking of shoulders, make sure the clothes in the picture are clothes you’d wear to work. Business casual is best.
Make sure your expression is inviting. A nice smile, soft lighting, and a centered shot are perfect for a headshot.
And lastly, make sure your photo looks like you. This is not the social media site where you need to look out of this world. No extensive editing, weird positioning or contouring. Just be yourself — this is your future employer you’re trying to impress.
How do you use LinkedIn day-to-day?
Everyday you should be scrolling through your feed. You should be reading articles, liking posts, and sharing content with your own network to show you are engaged and present on the platform. This will also show them that you are active and interested in any number of topics that could give insight into who you are as a professional.
You should also get into the habit of creating your own content. Maybe it’s an infographic, maybes it’s a blog post, or maybe it’s an op-ed — whatever it is, share it. As a job seeker, you’ll want to have examples of your work readily available and easily accessible. This is the first step to a successful job search. It’s also helpful for recruiters. This way they can see all the content you can produce and the extent of your skills.
It’s also vital to constantly be looking to expand your network and look for more contacts. This will boost your presence and increase your opportunities. To add a connection, all you have to do is search someone’s name or check the “suggested” connection list. And if someone sends you a connection request, make sure you click connect.
In the long run, you should continue updating your account and reach out to old colleagues. You never know when an opportunity might come up!