If you’re neglecting your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to make a change! While this site may not seem as hip as alternatives like Twitter and Facebook, its lineup of robust networking features makes it perfect for building and nurturing professional relationships – it just takes a little more getting used to, is all.
With more than 275 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network – but a LOT of businesses aren’t taking full advantage of its most sophisticated networking capabilities! That creates a huge opportunity for you, though, because learning to use LinkedIn effectively for your business and your personal brand can open plenty of brand new doors that you might never have known about otherwise.
Whether your profile has been gathering dust for months or you’ve never even really considered signing up at all, it’s time to give this social network its due. There’s more to life than Facebook, so quit letting the opportunities that LinkedIn can create pass you by – use this guide to get to know it a little better, and see how far it can take you!
Do I need a LinkedIn account?
It’s true – LinkedIn is probably the least sexy mainstream social network out there. This isn’t typically the place for juicy gossip, funny videos, or photos from your cat’s birthday party. But that doesn’t make it any less valuable – in fact, when you’re running a business, that can make it MORE valuable.
LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, and while that may make it seem a bit dry and boring, its actual functions are super useful – IF you know how to use them. If you are still on the fence about using LinkdIn, this feature might make you change your mind! Here are some quick and dirty tips:
Should I start a company page on LinkedIn?
When you look around on LinkedIn, you probably see two types of profiles: personal profiles and company pages. EVERYONE starts out with a personal profile – you can’t create a company page without one – so start there.
Once your personal profile is set up (keep reading to find out how to make it as good as possible), you’ll be able to create a page for your company.
-Shows recommendations and endorsements
-Shows your personal work history, awards, skills, education, and more
-Limits the number of connections other people can see (after 500, it shows “500+”)
-Does not save your status updates in one place (like a Facebook profile does)
-Shows exact number of followers
-Shows number of employees on LinkedIn
-Saves your status updates so visitors to your company page can see past updates like videos, discussions, and more
-Allows you to post job listings
Building a company page for your business gives it a much-needed sense of legitimacy – as much as having a company voicemail, P.O. box, or email address. On a network like Facebook, you may have a split personality – the company profile that you use for business, and the personal profile that you use for connecting with friends and family – but on LinkedIn, both your company page AND your personal profile represent your professional life, and consequently, they are BOTH important.
How can I get more people to see my LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn uses a search function similar to search engines like Google, which means that you can actually optimize your LinkedIn profile with keywords just like you would a web page. When you’re filling out your personal profile, choose a few keywords that are highly relevant to your profession, and that people use when searching for pros like you. This could include things like “destination
wedding photography,” “family dietician,” or “small business web developer.”
Sprinkle your keywords of choice throughout your profile, in places like your professional headline, summary, professional experience, and skills sections. (Just be sure to integrate them naturally and inconspicuously, okay?)
What are LinkedIn groups? How many should I join?
LinkedIn groups are the perfect way to build your network. You can find them using the drop-down next to the search bar:
Anyone can start a group, and they can include a wide variety of different categories. Your university may have a group for alumni. Your colleagues may belong to groups specific to your field, where people can network and discuss topics relevant to your industry. Any member of a group can see who the other members are (and even search for people within that list), and perhaps most importantly, any member can post messages on that group’s page. This means you can share links and start discussions with other members of that group – and people who actively participate in groups get an average of 4x as many profile views as people who don’t.
Use relevant keywords to search for groups that match up with your professional interests, and join the ones that seem like they’d be interesting to you. By participating in those groups, you get your name out in front of people who may not have otherwise heard of you – not a bad way to get free exposure!
Should I start my own group?
So we know that people who actively participate in groups get 4x as many profile views, so should you consider starting your own group? Creating your own group can be help you connect with others in your industry as well as facilitating a connection between your members themselves. By creating your own LinkdIn group, you will be listed as the owner and when people join the group they will see your information and you will get more exposure for your profile.
How do I start my own group?
- Go to your profile, then scroll down until you see the ‘Groups‘ section, hover over and click on ‘Manage‘. This will take you to your groups dashboard where you can access and manage all of your groups.
- Select ‘Create a Group‘ to the right. First you will need to upload a graphic for your group, this will appear in the Group Directory and Homepages of all group members.
- Upload an image for the group, this will appear in the search results as well as member’s profiles/
- Next give your group a name, brief description and a more detailed description. Make sure to include all relevant keywords so people can find your group!
- Next you have the opportunity to add a link to a website, whenever anyone joins the group they will see this, so this can be great exposure for a personal or business website.
- Next add an email for the group admin.
- You will have the options to make the group visible or not, making a group invisible will keep it from showing up in the LinkdIn search.
After you complete those steps you can get your group set up and start adding members!
Who should I connect with on LinkedIn?
Not sure where to start? Use the “Add Connections” feature:
This allows you to import contacts from your email, so LinkedIn does the hard work and finds people you already know who are on the network. You can also look at the profile pages for companies you’ve worked for in the past, so you can reconnect with old coworkers (keep reading to find out why those connections are some of the most important you’ll ever make on LinkedIn).
And what about people you DON’T know? Some users get really shy about who they reach out to on LinkedIn, as though it’s somehow inappropriate to connect with somebody they don’t personally know, or haven’t worked with in the past.
Don’t worry about that! While you probably shouldn’t try to connect with every person in sight just for the sake of doing it, if you have a genuine reason for wanting to connect with someone, you can go for it. If you want to connect with someone you don’t already know, include a message explaining who you are and why you’re interested in connecting with them when you send your request – this makes it a lot less likely that they’ll simply see a name they don’t recognize and slam the “ignore” button!
What are LinkedIn recommendations? (And how do I get more?)
LinkedIn recommendations are a way for other people to sing your praises right on your profile page – and that can be invaluable when someone is deciding whether they want to hire you!
Not many people spend their free time writing unsolicited recommendations for their old colleagues and employees, though, so most of the time, if you want one, you should just come out and ask for it. Under your account’s Privacy & Settings page, find the “Manage your recommendations” link:
From here, you can send recommendation requests to people you’ve connected with. Just type up a quick message asking them politely to recommend you – you may even write a recommendation for THEM while you’re at it, just to make it likelier that they’ll help you out.
If you don’t like someone’s recommendation, you don’t have to make it publicly visible, but make sure that you only ask for them from people you worked with closely, and who you trust. That way, you can ensure that you get specific, credible, and sincere recommendations on your profile page. (Remember, though – the recommendations that you write for other people also appear on YOUR profile page, so YOU have to be sincere, too!)
What are LinkedIn endorsements? How do I get more people to endorse me?
LinkedIn endorsements are much easier to give and receive, particularly because they are so much less specific than recommendations – they’re still incredibly valuable, though! On your profile page, you can choose which of your skills you want to highlight. Then, anyone who visits your page can see those skills that you listed and offer their endorsement of your ability with a single click:
Want to rack up more endorsements? There are two ways you can get more: First, try GIVING more endorsements. Check out profile pages for your former and current colleagues, and endorse their skills. When you do, LinkedIn alerts them, and prompts them to reciprocate by endorsing you in return (while they can choose not to, most people are willing to do it).
Second, ask people you’re close with if they’re willing to endorse you for a few skills. This is as simple as sending a quick message to a colleague and asking them to check out your profile page. It may feel a bit like cheating, but don’t worry about that – it’s no different than if you listed them as a reference on a job application!
What should I post on my LinkedIn?
Whether you’re an independent entrepreneur who only has a personal profile or you maintain an active company page for your business, you should be posting status updates. This functions similarly to networks like Facebook, but with added privacy options – you can choose to share something publicly, or only with your connections.
While your updates ought to be professional in nature – no photos from your nephew’s potty training, please – you should still be updating frequently. This is where most people get LinkedIn totally wrong. Instead of using their profile for posting updates, sparking discussions, and linking to blog posts, they allow it to just sort of sit there, stagnant. Your LinkedIn page shouldn’t be static – it should be active! What’s the point of making all those connections if you never post anything for them?
For more information on LinkedIn marketing, check these posts out:
Is Linkdin Premium Worth The Money? Trying to decide if you should shell out the cash for LinkdIn Premium? Read some user experiences and decide for yourself.
How to Get Found on LinkedIn: Optimizing your Headline. Optimizing your LinkedIn headline can help get you found by future employers, connections, friends and more.
LinkedIn Leads: 6 Tips to Implement Now. Use LinkedIn to grow your small business – here are 6 tips you can put in place right away.
Mistakes in Your LinkedIn Profile? Not a Good Social Media Strategy If you aren’t careful, your LinkedIn profile can quickly change from a major selling point to professional liability. Any of these five mistakes can and will kill your credibility.