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Hold up. What is LinkedIn exactly?
In layman’s terms, LinkedIn is a networking website built for professionals. Unlike other social media platforms, they’re focused on their users learning and developing, as well as sharing their expertise with others. It’s a great way to keep in touch with your professional connections, without having to see their personal lives through Facebook or Instagram. It’s also a great way to learn more about your field; you can only learn so much through official websites (SHRM, for example), but through networking and reading content from others who are actually working in similar roles to you, you’ll be one of the most knowledgeable people on your team. You never want to seclude your knowledge and development to inside of your current role. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to stay stagnant in your career.
Got it. But why do I care?
Odds are, you’re reading this because your profile is out of date, not prepared for your job search, or it doesn’t exist. Or maybe your profile is ready, but the content you’re seeing isn’t helpful, you can’t find potential clients, and you don’t know how to maximize the benefits of LinkedIn. I’m also willing to bet that some of these reasons are because you’re unaware of how powerful LinkedIn can be.
We often think to develop ourselves we should invest in more education or certifications, but we never think to invest in our professional relationships, not matter how many times we hear “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” In order to have connections that will one day benefit you, you have to start investing early.
Let's go over some quick stats to get you up to speed on LinkedIn's reach.
- There are 630 million profiles, and 40% of them are actively daily.
- Around half of users are making more than $75k annually… if you run a business, you can’t ask for a better platform. (More disposable income = more to spend on your product or service!)
- More than 90% of recruiters are actively checking LinkedIn for recruits… that means if your profile is out of date, you might get yourself scratched from the pool before you even know you’re interested in the job. There are also more than 20 million open job listings.
- There are 2 new users registering every second.
Not using LinkedIn is taking an opportunity to network with every professional you’ve ever needed, gather career specific knowledge, and building relationships with clients and mentors…. And throwing it out the window.
I personally have found my job through LinkedIn as well as a handful of connections that I can’t imagine not having as a resource now.
- Don’t have an updated profile
- Don’t understand the benefits
- Are unsure how to get new customers
- Aren’t sure how to network strategically for the long term
Down to the Basics
Let’s start at the top of your profile and work our way down!
Just like Facebook, you have the option to have a header. This is one of the first things that viewers will see when they click your name, so this placement is invaluable. If you have a business, using a banner here is perfect. If you’re currently a working professional, you can use a photo of yourself at a conference/working event, your organization’s logo (if it’s a recognizable name), or anything else that is relevant to you professionally. I know your most recent picture of your dog is adorable, but unfortunately this isn’t the place for it. If you’re a student, you could have the university logo, or ideally, a picture of you at an internship or involved in a student organization.
Your profile picture should be a headshot of you in professional attire. Your profile will see an increase in views with just this step alone.
The tagline. My favorite piece. You get around 100 characters to catch users’ attention here. This is the only thing besides your photo that people will see when you’re interacting with them. Think about who you want to see your profile and what they’d be looking for on LinkedIn, how can you incorporate this and your experiences/education? For example, because I want several different types of users coming to my profile, mine is Workforce Analyst | tOSU MHRM Student | Career and College Writer for Thrive Global and Willed Women
This part is one of the most crucial of your profile – which is why it has its three pages and a worksheet to itself in my new ebook: The LinkedIn Launch Lab.
On to the next! Your biography. The easiest way to think about this is to plug in your answer when you’re asked to tell someone about yourself. This is your chance to expand upon everything else you’re including in your profile.
After this, you can expand on your experience, education, volunteering experience, specific skills, recommendations, accomplishments, and interests.
See if you've missed anything with our checklist!
You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. - Dale Carnegie
Strategically Networking on LinkedIn
To understand how to use LinkedIn to it’s full potential, you’ll need to understand the different types of users and professionals you can interact with.
You’ll find six different types of users on LinkedIn; In my ebook, I talk more in depth on each of these, how to choose which you want to be, and how you can get there quickly.
The Ghost: These are the people that made an account years ago, never added a photo, maybe added one experience or one education, and then never revisited the site. If this is currently yours, I recommend either investing time into fixing it, or deleting the profile all together. For a lot of professionals and recruiters, this is their first impression of you. Don’t let it be that you’re lazy and didn’t put an effort into your professional image!
The Observer: The observer sets up their account and fills it in completely, but they hardly use the site, and when they do, it’s just to like their friends job updates.
The Salesman: The salesman is simply using LinkedIn for one thing: Cold sales. Their profile is entirely populated, they share some content on their feed, but nothing engaging, and they’re constantly sending connection requests so that they can message you their sales pitch. Job seekers who haven’t used LinkedIn in years but suddenly are back in the applicant pool also fall into this category. If you’re annoyed when strangers reach out asking you for sales, think of how recruiters feel when you’ve never reached out to them, and now you’re asking for a recommendation or lead into a company.
Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for. - Christine Comaford-Lynch
The Participant: The participant is committed to liking, sharing, and commenting, they’re a wonderful supportive user. They’ve scheduled occasional networking into their lives, and make sure they maintain a good relationship with their current connections.
The Curator: The curator is simply a more strategic participant. They meticulously decide what posts and people they’re going to interact with, and they generate discussions wherever they go. They most likely have more than a thousand connections due to how much work they’ve done in engaging others.
The Creator: The creator is typically someone whose full time job is a business that they run, so they’re constantly writing their own articles, going live, making videos, and responding to nearly everyone who engages with their content. It’s okay to not have the time to do this. You can be a creator who only posts once a month. If you want to create and share content at any time, you should do it!
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Finding New Connections
To understand what type of profile you want and what connections you’re hoping to gain from LinkedIn, you need to understand your short- and long-term goals. They don’t have to be perfect or written in stone, you just have to have some idea of what you’d need to accomplish in order to get there.
Think of your connections like you would your education. Pretend you’re leaving high school, and you know what job you want, what education would be the next best step for you? Now also think about who would be helpful to know and build a relationship with to better help my chances down the road? Who do you need in the short term, and what are their interests? What about the long term?
What investments can you make right now to benefit you later on that doesn’t cost you a dime? Building relationships.
This article has gotten very long, and I have so much more I’d love to share with you! Check out my ebook The LinkedIn Launch Lab, releasing August 1st! In addition, you can join the LinkedIn Launch Lab Facebook group for FREE until the book releases! After this, I’ll only allow customers who purchase the premium package access, so don’t miss out on meeting hundreds of women to connect with!