Over the last few years they have become a powerhouse of a social platform. Today their home page looks more like a business version of Facebook and they are adding more social features on a regular basis. Out of all of the social networks I use, I find LinkedIn to be the best platform for building business relationships.
LinkedIn has become an important social media platform, and in some ways is better than Facebook, especially for business networking and B to B business. The one clear advantage it has over Twitter and Facebook is that you have real (Twitter has millions of fake accounts, Facebook too) professionals who are actively looking to network and meet new people.
If you are just starting out on LinkedIn and want to learn hot to create a quality LinkedIn profile, or you are want to dust off your profile and get active on LinkedIn again, I’ve included a few tips below to help you get the most out of your LinkedIn account.
Fill out your profile completely
Yes, this seems obvious but most people don't do it. LinkedIn even gives you a progress bar so you can see how much you have left to complete. Your LinkedIn profile will rank very highly for your name in the search engines, meaning if a prospective employer types your name into Google, they are very likely to find your LinkedIn profile at the top of the search results.
Use a Quality Profile Picture
Like in real life, people will form an impression of you within the first few seconds of opening your profile page. No pictures of you on hanging out at the beach. Your picture will most likely be the first thing they notice and if you don't have one I can guarantee you nobody will take you seriously. Be sure to use a headshot (not a full body shot) of you smiling, or at least looking pleasant, How To Win Friends and Influence People still applies, even online.
Your headline is important
Your headline goes right below your name and is included in every reference made of your profile on LinkedIn. Be sure to add your company name and your title too as LinkedIn has a powerful search engine and recruiters and businesses use it to find potential candidates.
Like on Twitter, the first things people see when they view your profile will be your picture and headline. Unlike on Twitter, no need to get fancy to try and stand out, LinkedIn is still a professional's website and people aren't expecting to see outrageous things in your profile. Avoid superlatives and corny titles like “Social Media Ninja”. It just makes you look silly.
Add all experience, not just work history
Most people only add their work history to their profile. LinkedIn actually let's you add all of your relevant experiences and achievements in it's “add section” tab under your main profile. In this section you can add volunteer experiences, awards, organizations you work with and a bunch of other stuff.
Be sure to take the time to fill these sections out. Sometimes your non-paid experiences are more relevant to a prospective employer than your actual work experiences.
Use the “add sections” to supercharge your profile
**Update** LinkedIn has removed applications/Add Sections and now lets you add multimedia like slide shows directly into your profile. See the link here for more information. http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/34326
LinkedIn allows you to add lots of goodies to your profile if you are willing to take the time to do it. Once you open the “add section”, you will see a list of the items you can add.
Here are just a few examples of applications you can add:
- Your Twitter stream
- The stream from your WordPress blog
- You can host files from Box.net
- Add presentations through Google Presentations or Slideshare
- Your Amazon recommended reading list
Fill out your summary in detail
Use this section to let the reader know who you are and what you are about. To benefit both the reader and the search engines, be sure to use descriptive language and include your name, company and any keywords that best describe who you are and what you do. Avoid superlatives and include accomplishments. Like Ben Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said”.
Build quality connections
This is not Twitter, quality is more important than quantity. The first thing to do is to upload your email contacts and LinkedIn will search to see which of your contacts are on LinkedIn. It will also search your work history and education to find connections there.
Once you have the connections you know in place, LinkedIn will start to make sense of your current connections and suggest people to you based on your those connections. This feature is what makes LinkedIn such a great networking tool as you may find you already have a mutual friend with someone you would like to connect with.
Build a reputation through recommendations
If you do quality work for others, ask them to write a recommendation for you on LinkedIn. Recommendations are a powerful way to build social proof that you are a true professional and someone that can be trusted.
The LinkedIn Request Recommendations tool is a simple way to send a message to a connection asking for a recommendation. The automated message is pretty generic so be sure to personalize each one that you send. If it is not a close contact, you may even want to refresh their memory as to the work you provided in the past.
Endorsements are a relatively new feature where your connections can give you a quick endorsement for a particular skill with the click of a button. It's kind of like the Facebook version of a “Like”, except they do it for an individual skill of yours. While it may not carry as much weight as a recommendation, it still looks impressive when you see hundreds of endorsements on your profile.
Make use of the Updates stream
Usually when a LinkedIn user logs in, they will see a list of updates from members in their network. Use this stream to add valuable content for the people in your network and to start branding yourself as an authority.
Join LinkedIn groups
Joining LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry is a great way to further build your authority by using the groups stream to add valuable content. Also, find the groups where your customers are most likely to join, and join them too. The quality of groups varies but many of them are great sources for networking if you actively participate in them.
If you are willing to put in the time and effort, starting your own LinkedIn group can be a great way to quickly build a reputation for yourself. Be aware that managing a quality group is a lot of work and does require a lot of your time.
Create a company page
If you have your own business, LinkedIn allows you to create a company page. Having a dedicated page for your company allows you to provide additional details about your business like your company profile and specific product information.
LinkedIn as a Social Platform
LinkedIn gives you plenty of tools and opportunity to build your own reputation as well as your business's. It is a great social networking platform to network and to grow your business. To get the most benefit from it you need to be actively engaged in the community.
If you want to find me on LinkedIn or just give me a virtual high five, you can find me here.
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