LinkedIn now has over 467 million members in over 200 countries, and two new members are joining every second. This is the channel where professionals are not wasting time; they are investing time.
While some people still think that LinkedIn is only important if you’re looking for a new job, it’s a much more powerful network than you probably know.
I like to call LinkedIn “your resume with personality” because it allows you to tell a better professional story than a structured resume.
LinkedIn also acts as a modern-day Rolodex. Instead of having a drawer full of business cards, LinkedIn allows you to keep a database of connections at your fingertips.
It also allows you to showcase yourself as a thought leader by providing the opportunity to share status updates and blog posts.
People are looking at your online profile before they meet with you. What is the first impression they see? Is it professional? Is it up-to-date? If not, you may be missing out on future opportunities.
The four areas you need to focus on are your photo, your headline, your summary, and your skills.
Your image is the first impression people see when they research your profile.
Are you presenting yourself as a confident, competent professional?
I’ve seen many inappropriate images including people who have included photos of their pets, their children, wedding photos and “duck face” selfies, but the worst has to be people who are shirtless!
Investing in a professional headshot is highly recommended, but at the very least, you want to have a photo where you are the only person in the photo, you are smiling and are dressed appropriately.
Since this is the business network, you will want to present yourself as you would at a networking event, meeting or business conference.
By default, LinkedIn includes your current position beside your professional photo, but you can tailor your copy to showcase your expertise in under 120 characters effectively.
If you wear many hats, you can simply use keywords, or you can phrase it as a powerful sentence that highlights what you do and how you help your target audience.
This is a much more thorough “story” than simply Business Analyst or Project Manager and lets the reader know if you’re an expert in a particular niche.
This is where you let your professional story shine! You have 2,000 characters to effectively tell your connections who you are, what you do and whom your company helps. The copy is truncated, so focus on a strong first sentence that stands out and invites the reader to “see more.”
Write your copy in first person voice (I am) instead of the third person voice (Leslie Hughes is) because it’s more likely to resonate with the reader.
Get on the “same side of the table” as your target audience. What do they want to read about you?
Include your accomplishments (what projects have you been involved in that has made a difference). Highlight some of your proudest moments throughout your career.
If you’re concerned that people will think you’re bragging, then stop right there. LinkedIn is where you’re SUPPOSED to include all your accomplishments, and if you include how proud and passionate you are about what you do, it shows that you’re committed to your industry.
And lastly, make sure you include a call-to-action in your Summary. How can people contact you? Do you prefer to connect via email or phone?
During my LinkedIn training sessions and keynotes, I’m often asked how much LinkedIn Skills matter on your profile, or better yet “Why do people endorse me for skills I haven’t listed?”
I originally thought this section didn’t matter at all, but I’ve come to find that the Skills and Endorsements section not only helps you to rank higher in LinkedIn search results, but it’s very important for when you’re actively pursuing a new career.
According to LinkedIn, members with 5 or more skills listed are contacted (messaged) up to 33x more by recruiters and other LinkedIn members, and receive up to 17x more profile views. Optimize the skills on your own profile – so that your connections can endorse you properly is as follows:
Click on Me > View Profile and then scroll down to the “Skills” block and click on the pencil or “Add a new skill.” Choose from a list of relevant skills you feel fit your skill set.
Focus on the top 3 skills, as these are the ones that appear most prominently (you can feature up to 50 skills on your profile.) Some skills may seem redundant, but the repetition of keywords is important.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time making sure your skills and endorsements are optimized, but they are an important component of your profile so take a few minutes to make sure it’s up-to-date.
Deepen Relationships on LinkedIn by Breaking the Ice with These Conversation Starters
Many of us think that LinkedIn is just a resume site, and it doesn’t have much pizzazz, but this professional networking site has a treasure trove of information about your connections.
Social Media has the word “social” built right into the name, and we often seem to forget that we are connecting with humans, but using technology to facilitate these conversations.
Reaching out to new people and making connections can be overwhelming and intimidating but there are a few ways you can turn a cold call or reaching out, into a warm introduction. Click on the person’s profile and then click on the “Connect” button. You will be invited to customize the invitation with a personal note.
Add in a conversation starter and get connected!
Conversation starter #1: Be sure always to send a personalized connection request to remind the person how you met, or why you want to connect with them. They will be much more likely to accept your request and even engage in two-way dialogue.
Conversation starter #2: If you accept a connection request from someone you don’t know, you may wish to start the conversation this way: “Thanks for reaching out to connect here on LinkedIn. I’d love to know more about your business and how I can help with your career. Can you send me a quick overview of what you do and the target audience you work with?”
Conversation starter #3: If you’re already connected to someone on LinkedIn but want to deepen your relationship with them, comment on their latest status update or share their recent post.
Conversation starter #4: Look at your prospective connection or current connection’s profile. Do you have someone or something in common you can talk about? For example: “Hi Alex. I noticed on your profile that you went to school at the University of Ottawa, I also went to Ottawa U. Small world!”
I challenge you to reach out and connect with about two of your connections per week, whether that’s a new introduction or deepening an existing connection. It’s a great way to keep networking from the comfort of your own desk!