While LinkedIn may not be the most popular or enjoyable social network to go on, it is absolutely vital that you do not underestimate its importance, especially when it comes to connecting with industry professionals, furthering your career, or expanding your network. With more than 400 million members, LinkedIn has become one of the fastest growing social media platforms for professional and career networking. The potential that this site has for both young professionals and seasoned veterans is something bigger than imaginable. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn allows their users to network and connect with some of the top-level companies and talent in the world. Because of this simple reason alone, it is absolutely vital that you, regardless of your work status, optimize your LinkedIn account in the best possible way.
So how do you do this? How can I shape my LinkedIn account to increase my chances for networking>
Before I discuss any beneficial professional tips in optimizing and branding your LinkedIn profile, let’s start off by understanding LinkedIn holistically. LinkedIn, like many social media properties, is considered to be a Web2.0 social media-networking site that allows its daily user to professionally brand and market themselves in the most efficient and effective way possible. Think of this like other various popular social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. The only difference between LinkedIn and other social media sites is that this site is tailored primarily for professional networking and career-related content.
Because of this concept, LinkedIn has, and is continuing to grow each and every day amassing millions of users and countless daily visitors. While there are other sites similar to LinkedIn, none of them can content to the ever-growing active presence that this site contributes for its users day after day. One of the best things about the site is that it, first and foremost, allows you to connect with professionals. No matter where you are in your professional career, networking will always be skill that you will do to the day you retire. LinkedIn is a great platform for this. It allows their users to actively interact and connect with professionals and like-minded individuals within their industries. Not only do you connect, but you also showcase your academic and professional background. One of the best things about your LinkedIn account is that, unlike Facebook, you are able to promote your personal and professional achievements. While some sites may see this as boasting, LinkedIn sees this as viable content that helps shapes your professional niches and your professional trajectory. Now the last great thing about LinkedIn is its overall ability to help get you hired. If you are looking for a career, LinkedIn remains to be one of the premium places online in finding and landing a job. While other competitors like Monster.com or Indeed.com do provide a similar platform, many cannot rival the user-friendly interface and reputation that LinkedIn has built within these past few years.
Now, beyond the basics and fundamental knowledge of LinkedIn, you need to ask yourself that one important question: Have you optimized your LinkedIn account for professional viewers and future employers? For many users, the answer is either ‘I do not know’ or simply ‘no.’ While many of you guys may be shooting yourself in the foot, do not worry. The sad reality is that thousands, maybe even millions, of LinkedIn users are unaware of how to best optimize their professional profiles. To help with this, you need to start thinking of your LinkedIn account as your curriculum vitae, but without the necessary restrictions of a one-page limit. Bringing in that perspective will allow you to develop and alter all of the necessary tweaks needed to enhance your professional online presence.
To help with this, I have provided ‘eight’ vital tips you can utilize to improve your LinkedIn account today. While this may take time, the amount of effort and work you will invest on your online campaign can greatly increase your chances in landing that perfect job for your future.
1. Know your Professional Theme
When creating your LinkedIn account, you want to go into it with a specific perspective. For some people, they want to be perceived as a professional sport expert. For others, they want to be viewed as a finance-extraordinaire. Whatever is the case, make sure you go into your profile with that idea in mind. This will allow you to cut out any unnecessary jobs or extracurricular activities and add any vital professional content that can benefit your image.
2. Create a Strong and Informative Bio
Unlike your resume, your LinkedIn account provides various features to showcase your personal and professional background. To optimize your account, make sure you fill out the ‘Summary’ section for your profile. This is usually the first thing visitors and future employers see when they visit your profile. To fully optimize this, make sure you include a 1000-plus-word biography on your personal, academic, and professional career. Be sure to highlight any professional achievements and accolades you have amassed throughout your career. In addition, provide some personal information about yourself. Be cautious though. You do not want to dive in to depth with this. To help benefit your campaign, include a two-sentence description that sums up your personal interest. It can be something like: “John Smith; fly fishing enthusiast, soccer player, and world traveler.
3. Expand and Quantify your Work Experience
One of the biggest mistakes many professionals make on their LinkedIn account is that they will list rather than describe. As much as you want to ‘list’ every work experience option possible, you may get more bang-for-your-buck to expand and describe your work responsibilities, duties, and achievements for each particular position. One huge tip you can do to optimize your account and get it noticed by future employers is to quantify your work descriptions. For example, rather than saying: “I managed a large group of professional individuals,” say something along the lines of this: “Managed and cultivated a group of 200 professional individuals.” Having that detail quantified allows your achievements and job responsibilities to stand out and represent you as a stronger candidate for future employers and visitors.
4. Include References and Work Samples
Similar to job applications, you want to make sure visitors are accessible to professional references and work samples. To do this, ask a former employer or mentor to write you a positive professional reference on your LinkedIn account. To enhance it, or specialize it, go back to your theme and ask yourself what you are looking to highlight. If you are looking to highlight your leadership and management skills, ask them to write a reference for that. If you are looking to highlight a professional project, ask them to highlight that achievement. Whatever is the case, make sure your references stays aligned to the overall theme of your account.
5. Skills Section and Endorsement
To highlight your skills within your professional niche and field, make sure you fill out your skills section to the best of your abilities. Just like your work experience, you want to be as specific as possible. In addition, try and get endorsed through your other LinkedIn friends. The more endorse you are, the better.
6. Customize your LinkedIn URL
One common mistake many LinkedIn account users do not do is that they forget to customize their LinkedIn URL. When creating an account, the URL associated with your profile will end with a combination of numbers and letters. To make this more personalized, make sure you change it to your full name. To do this, go to the settings page and change the URL to your name. To learn more, please follow the directions here.
7. Increase your Network
For any LinkedIn account, make sure you continue to increase your LinkedIn account each and every time you sign on. Many people do not realize this, but your overall social media presence and ranking can be dictated by your connections alone. To expand on your connections, start off by connecting with friends and work colleagues. From there, tap into your other resources such as your alma mater, interest groups, organizations, or former/current jobs.
8. Add other Links
While this may seem minimal, enhancing your links, especially with your sites and social media properties, can help change your overall search engine rankings. To do this, be sure to add your sites and your social media properties on your LinkedIn profile page. While it maybe limited, you want to make sure you are utilizing every resources they are giving you to shape your online presence.