LinkedIn is the largest professional network. It’s the first place someone will go to check you out professionally, so invest time to make the most of this opportunity.
PRESENT YOURSELF WELL
Post a good picture.
Get a photo taken professionally if possible. Your picture is really important—it’s what viewers look at first and relate to the most. Decide how you want to appear – impressive? approachable? well-dressed? Dress as you would for an interview, i.e. a level up from what you would wear to work.
Have a creative, specific headline that sets you apart and contains keywords.
If you’re job-hunting, remember that your current employer can see what you say.
If you’re between jobs, give your profession.
Keep your profile clear and up to date.
LinkedIn will provide a url specific to LinkedIn; simplify it to include your name and little else. Be sure to fill in your contact information so people can find your own email, website, social media accounts etc.
Give a clear, concise job history.
No dense paragraphs, please – people won’t read them. Highlight your accomplishments; the more specifics the better. Bullets work well. What did you do that was successful? Quantify your successes where possible.
Jargon is not your friend.
Even if you want only people in your field to read about you, use clear language. An assistant doing the screening might not know all the terms used in your field.
Don’t go back too many years.
There’s no point in inviting age discrimination. 15 years’ worth of experience is a good maximum to show, and older experience may be discounted. You don’t have to put dates on your education.
Build a large list of connections.
LinkedIn is great at suggesting people you may know. Contact people you‘d like to be in touch with and ask to be connected. But don’t approach strangers cold (see below for connecting to people you don’t know). Also don’t accept invitations from people you don’t know, since connecting is a kind of endorsement.
Make your invitations personal. If you just click on “Connect” in the list of “People You May Know,” LinkedIn will send a canned invitation to the person on your behalf. Instead, click on the person’s name to go to their profile. Then when you click on “Connect,” personalize your message.
Beware of clicking on people to “Add to Network”. They aren’t on LinkedIn and may not want to join.
Be active in LinkedIn groups in your profession.
This is a good way to demonstrate your expertise. Join groups that interest you, ask questions, follow discussions and post your comments.
Follow organizations that interest you.
This gives a picture of who you are and opens up opportunities to connect with people who share your interests, such as fellow alums.
Keep your contacts in touch with what you’re doing and thinking. On the home page, you can click on “Share an update” and “Publish a post”. The latter is where you can share longer pieces of writing. Use photos to add interest.
MANAGE LINKEDIN WELL
Join the right level of LinkedIn for your needs.
Although the free level has a fair amount of capabilities, I generally recommend paying for a “Premium” account. These accounts come in several levels and the least expensive Premium account—called Job Seeker—will suffice for most people.
A Job Seeker account will let you:
- See who has viewed your profile
- Get more profile information on people for whom you search
- Send 3 “InMail” messages per month to other LinkedIn members
- Get information on the other applicants for jobs
- Show up at the top of the list of applicants for jobs
Be intentional about your privacy.
Click on your photo on the top right corner of the home page to find the Privacy & Settings page. There are a dozen settings here to review. Some are important, such as:
- Whether your network is notified about your activity, including profile changes—job seekers may not want this
- Whether people know it’s you who viewed their profile
- How you rank in views of your profile compared to your connections
Another important setting for visibility is on the page where you edit your profile. Here you can set LinkedIn to notify/not notify your network about changes you make. I recommend setting “Notify your network?” to No until you have finished making changes. Then for any significant changes you want to publicize, change it to Yes.
SEARCH FOR PEOPLE, ORGANIZATIONS, JOBS
Note that LinkedIn has an app called LinkedIn Jobs as well as a website.
Use LinkedIn to get information on people you have met or want to meet.
To the left of the search field, there is a drop-down menu where you can search for people, jobs, companies, posts etc. Become familiar with the Advanced search option, which gives you a lot of ways to find people.
Also use LinkedIn to learn more about an organization.
Use Search or Advanced search to find the organization. Then look at the people you might connect with there. If you already know them, great. If they are second-level contacts, contact the person you know and ask if they would be willing to introduce you to the person, normally by email. Then be sure to follow up with the referrer to thank them.
Use LinkedIn to do a job search, but don’t ignore websites that may have more job postings.
A number of employers post jobs on LinkedIn, and applying for a job directly through LinkedIn shows you’re a serious professional. You can save jobs and set a job search agent that will notify you of jobs that meet your criteria.
Many other websites have far more job listings, however. Find the ones that are best for your profession and check them regularly. Set up job search alerts here too.
© 2016 Lucy Meadows