Whether you are re-launching your career, making a career change or bringing in more business for your own venture, you simply must be “LinkedIn” these days. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your LinkedIn experience.
Approach LinkedIn as a professional reconnecting with colleagues in the working world and finding ways to make a meaningful contribution. This tilt in attitude will help you enter with confidence instead of as someone who wants a job. Just as you are eager to expand your network, so are others. People will welcome your invitations to connect.
Sign up for a LinkedIn account if you don’t have one already
First things first. A free account is all you need. You can decide after you’re using it regularly if you need the deluxe model and are willing to pay for it.
Turn off your Notification
In the right-hand column, LinkedIn asks if you want to “Notify your network?” For now, choose, “No, do not publish an update to my network about my profile changes.” This is just while you’re getting set up. We want to prevent your network from being notified of every change you make to your profile as you build out your page. Once your profile is to your liking, go back and turn this notification on. You’ll want to notify your network when you are adding a skill, a recommendation or a new position (!), but not right now while you are completing your profile and making edits. Do not make connections until your profile is finished. Start by connecting with people you know.
Create/Update your Profile
Now for the heavy lifting. Recruiters and hiring managers view your LinkedIn profile as the new version of the resume, and it could be the first thing they see – even before there is a job posting to respond to. So do this right – and do this before making any connections – but know it’s a “creation” so you will be editing it regularly.
Even a clown uses a professional photo! You are selling the image that will get you that job, whether it is for a data manager or a clown. A professional photo is important because you’ll be reconnecting with people from the past and with people who have just interviewed you and might need to be reminded of who you are. In fact, professional photos are so important that we make it a priority at The Back to Business Women’s Conference each October to have a professional photographer on-hand to take photos for all registrants. If you need to get yours done, I urge you to spend the money to have it done professionally. This is an investment that is well worth it.
The first thing people see after your name and photo is your headline. It is not just a job title — pack it with keywords to attract others to read your profile. It does not need to be your current position (or lack thereof) since that will appear again under Experience. It should be strong and personal but not too salesy – you want to be found and to be chosen. Some examples include:
- Experienced Project Manager interested in the pharmaceutical industry
- Competitive Intelligence Professional who applies data analytics to enhance decision making
- Certified Professional Facilitator | Helping Teams to get from Chaos to Clarity
Customize your profile URL to include your name. Find this a few lines down from the title and use the pencil icon to change it to read appropriately. Then add your personalized LinkedIn url to your resume and email closing when sending out professional correspondence.
Take a moment right now to look up keywords that are applicable to your field of interest if you haven’t already done this for your resume. Use LinkedIn profiles for people in your line of work to find several keywords they use and then be sure to use them in your summary and job descriptions. When you use keywords in many areas of your LinkedIn profile, recruiters have a better chance of finding you.
This is an essential place to tell readers who you are and what makes you great. Be creative with this – you want to stand out and show enthusiasm – but use those keywords here and keep it professional.
Use your updated resume to populate your Experience section with your work history, education, and certifications. Pull out your biggest accomplishments at each job you’ve held to add to your LinkedIn “Experience” section. Don’t list all of your responsibilities: You just want to highlight your accomplishments here. Be sure to include new volunteer positions, skills training and organization memberships. The Back to Business Women’s Conference is a professional development opportunity, and as such can be included under the Interests or Organizations section of your LinkedIn profile. Also, be sure to join our LinkedIn group called “Back to Business Women’s Conference” and contribute to or start a discussion here.
So now you’re ready to start using LinkedIn and making connections. Turn your notification back on. Start with low-hanging fruit – connect with people that LinkedIn recommends for you. You are looking for quality connections: If there is someone you’d like to meet, you can find a connection through the network you are building and ask for an introduction. Set yourself a goal to make a specific number of new connections each day and track your progress. These could be former co-workers, friends and professional acquaintances. When you reach out be sure to note what they are doing and offer a kind word or a quality recommendation for a fantastic former co-worker. Remember that right now as you are connecting, you should be seeing how you can help them.
Tip: If you are unsure as to whether you know someone who requests to connect with you, you can reply to their request to ask how you know them. Do not click on “I don’t know (the person)” unless they are sending SPAM. If a member receives five “I don’t know them” reports, LinkedIn will require them to input email addresses to request connections. This makes it very difficult to connect with other members. Keep this in mind as you send out your own connection requests: If you are requesting a connection with someone you don’t know personally, be sure you include a personal note in the connection request that establishes why you want to connect. It’s a good rule of thumb to include a personal note to everyone you want to connect with. The generic LinkedIn request of “I’d like to add you to my professional network” is so impersonal!
Recommendations are testimonials to your service, expertise and skills. Ask others for recommendations and be willing to write a recommendation for them as well. Former co-workers, managers and clients are the best people to ask. If you’ve been out of the paid workforce for a while, think about asking people you’ve volunteered with to write you a recommendation.
Groups and Online Learning
Join a group (such as the Back to Business Women’s Conference group) under the Interests tab and get involved in a discussion as long as you can reputably add to that discussion. This will help to make you known to others in your field so be sure you are contributing in a constructive manner! Belonging to several groups but not participating will not help you. Similarly, check out some of the online learning opportunities – Lynda.com offers online training at a cost for a variety of topics and adds completion links automatically to your LinkedIn Profile. Join your alumni organizations’ group, local networking groups and a professional group that interests you.
Use and Update
Use LinkedIn on a regular basis – the more you use it, the more likely you will come up on others’ radar. Keep your profile up-to-date and be sure to add any new skills, training programs or professional affiliations. Offer endorsements of skills for those who are deserving and recommendations where appropriate. Your connections will likely do the same for you.
Use LinkedIn to research potential companies and expand your list of target companies. Get to know everything about them and make new connections who work there. Know where your friends are working and check out who they’re connected to.
LinkedIn is another social media outlet that will demand some time upfront. Knowing how people make a living is a good use of your time for your own future, as is having them find out about you.