“Are you on LinkedIn?” “Can I connect with you through LinkedIn?” “Message me on LinkedIn, and we will set up a time to talk.” Have you heard any of these phrases in your professional conversations over the past few years? They make a point…if you aren’t on LinkedIn AND actively engaging and networking on the site, then you probably either don’t have a great LinkedIn profile, or you are not using the site and all of its features to enhance your career.
Today’s executives are constantly on the move. If you’re an exec who is trying to increase organizational revenue, improve operating efficiency, or even build your individual value proposition for your next career move, being active on LinkedIn will benefit you in all of these areas. When creating a strong presence on LinkedIn and using it to your advantage through connecting and networking with the right people and groups, you will find that moving your career and/or business forward is easier than you thought. Here are a few quick tips on how to use LinkedIn to get you seen, heard, and respected in your professional circles:
Building Your Profile:
LinkedIn has so many features and options – it can truly be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Building your profile to effectively market you and the value you can provide must be done creatively and strategically to show that you are at the top of the game in your field.
- Fill your profile out completely. Try to put information in as many sections that are applicable to you.
- Add relevant credentials after your name at the top of your profile. If the job or board position you’re vying for recommends an MBA and you have the credential after your name, then the reader does not have to go through the entire profile to find out that you have achieved this level of expertise.
- Use keywords or skills in your headline and not just a job title. This not only shows your creativity but is also a strong strategy for being found through SEO searches.
- Be sure your profile photo is current and professional looking. Upload a customized banner to add some pizzazz to your profile – having the common LinkedIn blue banner just doesn’t cut it.
- Don’t just write a small paragraph in the “About” Instead, use this space (2,600 characters) to introduce yourself to the reader using descriptive keywords, a few quantifiable career highlights, a bulleted list of skills, etc. You can really get some bang for your buck if you can craft an innovative and clever career summary for this section.
- Be sure your work experience is consistent with the experience outlined on your resume (dates, titles, achievements, etc.). Inconsistencies between the two documents (yes, hiring managers do check) will either show a lack of attention to detail or that you are being less than honest. Either way, your credibility with the reader just took a nose-dive.
- Only include relevant education College degrees and professional development or training activities are great but including your high school years are not.
- Certifications and licenses matter, especially if you don’t have a college degree! So many people forget to add their certifications to their profiles.
- Memberships in professional organizations can be key in showing that you have been active on corporate boards or are involved in groups within your industry. Many corporations are also interested in candidates who are service-minded within their communities, so including recent volunteer work is also good to include on your profile.
- Including your skills is imperative! If you are unsure of the skills that are best in your field, LinkedIn will suggest some for you! Again, this is another section where you need to be creative and strategic. Instead of “Operations”, put “Operations Management” as an entry in this section. Be sure to “pin” your top three skills so the reader can see what you excel at the most at a quick glance.
These are just a few ideas that will help you to build a strong LinkedIn profile. However, you’re not done yet, because building a profile is only the first step in showing your credibility in your field. The next step is to be active on the site.
Networking and Engaging on LinkedIn:
You can connect with hundreds of colleagues and friends on LinkedIn, but if you are not actively engaging and networking on the site, your connections really aren’t going to be of any significance in helping to amplify your value proposition or your credibility for what you do.
- Give and ask for recommendations. You don’t need a ton of them – but a few key recommendations from supervisors, clients, board, members, etc. can really help to vouch for who you are, your expertise, how you lead, and the value you can provide in your field.
- Connect with key people in your field. Yes, you will have colleagues and old friends who may want to connect with you, and that’s okay. But LinkedIn isn’t about the quantity of connections you have. It’s more about the quality of your connections.
- Join industry-specific groups and follow their pages. Watch for posts and other publications that are of interest to you and add your two cents of expertise by commenting on the posts. If you’re in an active job search, this is also an ideal way to see what opportunities are available in your field, especially if you’re targeting a specific company.
In today’s professional (and unpredictable) world, being on LinkedIn is crucial. Making your presence strong and credible is even more important. Build your profile and connections, and then network and engage on a daily basis, or as often as you can to show who you are, what you have achieved, and the credibility and value you offer in your field. You won’t be sorry and may even snag the career opportunity of your dreams!