I’m in the process of moving from Facebook to LinkedIn. I’ve been thinking about it for a while. I find I’m using Facebook less frequently both professionally and personally. I’ve used LinkedIn since I was at university. It’s pretty useful for keeping up with people I’ve met professionally. I’ve also used it to find jobs, courses and to find the information I need to build my own career.
Despite LinkedIn being the number one site for professional and career networking, when I ask clients about their networks (where 70% of people find their next role) they often look a bit sheepish. Muttering that they have a LinkedIn account but don’t use it. If that’s you, you’re definitely not alone! Whether you have an account, need to revamp it or want to set one up, here are my tips on how to use LinkedIn effectively.
Creating your LinkedIn profile
Once you sign up the most important things to do are to:
Add a photo
This is because it grabs people’s attention and you are 70% more likely to have someone look at your profile; especially important if you’re looking for a new job. Choose one that is of just you, looking at the camera and smiling! It doesn’t have to be professionally taken. Take a look around at people you admire to get some inspiration. You don’t need a background photo (the big one at the top of your profile) but you can if you like. If so, go for something that sets the context and adds to your profile.
Choose your job title
Which doesn’t actually have to be a job title. It can be an insight into what you do and what makes you tick. Mine says Career Coach | Women in Leadership | Return to Work | Speaker| Empathetic Provocateur | or you can more traditional e.g. Careers Coach. It’s up to you but think about who you want to notice you.
Tell your story
You can use your summary section to share your values and your vision for your career. This is not the place to hide your light! Shout about your skills, but don’t just list them – show how you’ve made a difference, the results you have achieved and what you’re most proud of. Aim for three to five short paragraphs with plenty of white space to make it easy to read.
Thereafter it’s a case of adding in your career history and educational experience. You can copy directly from your CV if you wish.
How to use LinkedIn effectively
Once you have a profile (as many of you already have!) the next thing to do is to use LinkedIn effectively.
Grow your network
When I first joined LinkedIn I only used to connect to people I had met in real life (or had prolonged contact with online). Nowadays I connect to people who are interesting and/or inspiring to me. You can sync with your email list if you want to or you can add people as you go. I would encourage you to start with folks you know, perhaps that you have worked with previously It is better to have a smaller, authentic network than a large, inauthentic one.
When it comes to growing your network I would say this: When inviting/accepting an invite consider the purpose of connecting with them. I can tell you that I’m likely to run a mile if you try to connect with me if you have “helps coaches” in any form in your job title? Why? Because I find that folks try to sell to me immediately. It feels really icky and is exactly the kind of networking that most folks hate. And I love networking!!
Consider subtle networking, where you do it with the intention to get to know folks first. To find out about them as well as their business/background.
Share relevant content
Since LinkedIn is a professional site, aim to share useful, relevant content with your network. It might be articles you have written yourself or something you have seen. It could be pertinent to your skillset/business or a new leadership tool you’ve seen. You can ask questions, share quotes or whatever you like…and it can be fun! Again, look around for inspiration.
Engage with others’
As well as connecting and sharing one of the best ways to raise your visibility (which is the point, right?!) is to engage with others. Join groups (like mine) and make sure you comment as well as like posts. Share your opinions. Your voice matters.
Using LinkedIn for job searching
95% of my clients only use LinkedIn when they are looking for their next role. There is a jobs board section where you can show you are open to new opportunities, choose the sectors you are interested in and apply for jobs directly. LinkedIn offers useful resources for job seekers, providing information and allowing you to highlight your unique value proposition.
Make sure you give and ask for recommendations from others. It allows you to show prospective employers what your strengths are in the form of positive recommendations from people who have worked with/for you.
Finally, make sure you include your LinkedIn URL on your CV. It makes it easy for prospective employers to visit LinkedIn to learn more about you, your skills and qualifications. It also makes you visible if an employer searches for you in a search engine.
LinkedIn will assign you a URL unless you create a custom one. To create a custom URL, click the “Me” icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage and select “View profile” from the drop-down menu. On the right-hand side of the page, click “Edit public profile & URL.” Try using your first and last name. If that is taken, try a middle initial or your full middle name. Just make sure that your profile is up to date before including a link to it on your CV.
If you are unemployed there is this excellent blog by the balanced career on how to update your profile on LinkedIn if you are looking for work.