If your career or aspirations can in any way be described as “professional”, then you need to be on LinkedIn. And if you are on LinkedIn, your profile needs to represent you effectively.
Unlike other social media networks, LinkedIn is purely professional. And it’s huge, over 20 million people in the UK alone are on LinkedIn. You can use it to share what you do, and to build up credibility with endorsements and recommendations for your work.
Your LinkedIn profile will be checked out by future employers, clients or customers. Get it right and it’s a powerful piece of online real estate. LinkedIn usually comes high up in web searches for your name. Whether or not you have your own website, it allows you to be seen online.
It is important on LinkedIn to present the same level of professionalism as you would do at an in-person business meeting, interview or networking event. This is true both for your profile picture and what you write. Don’t be afraid to show some personality. It’s not about being bland. It is about keeping a professional focus.
It’s never too soon to get onto LinkedIn, or to revisit a neglected Linked in profile and get it working for you. Even if you are currently on a career break or not looking for work, start building up your profile and connections now. Here are some things to include in your profile.
You need a clear head and shoulders shot of you, dressed as you would be for a professional meeting or interview. I recommend investing in professional headshot if you can afford it. If not, ask someone to take a good photograph of your in clear light against a plain background. The easiest way to get good lighting is to take the photo outside, but not in direct sunlight. And take plenty of photographs so you have a selection to choose from.
Your headline is the one thing people will read about you without visiting your profile page. So it needs to be clear. There are different approaches to this. I personally like to keep it simple with descriptive job titles – see my example below. But many people advise using a strap-line that explains how you help. See how Fabulous Women owner Jane Hardy focuses on the fact that she offers business networking rather than her role at the company. And Mike Clayton’s heading describes how he helps people without actually using the words author or consultant.
If you are between jobs or looking to change career, you will want your headline to reflect your desired role. So for example, if you are a Personal Assistant, who enjoys the event management side of your work and want to move into this full time, make sure your refer to event management within your headline.
Getting your summary section right is vital. Make it clear what you do and how you can help people. Focus on what you can do for a potential employer or client, rather than a potted CV or listing your past jobs. The Experience section is where you can then list and briefly describe your previous experience. You can also share blogs, videos and other resources on your profile, to showcase your areas of expertise.
And make sure your summary contains the key words which describe the type of work you are looking for, or clients you can help. This way you are more likely to appear in searches.
The power of LinkedIn is through your connections. Start by connecting with past colleagues, employers, friends and family. You can import your contact lists to find out who you already know on LinkedIn. And LinkedIn offers a powerful inbuilt search function which allows you to identify relevant people to connect with.Then as you network and meet people, you can stay in touch with those you resonate with via LinkedIn. The time to build up your connections is before you need to call on them to help you. Instead, think about how you can be helpful to others.
One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn in the Recommendations section. It allows people to leave a verified testimonial. A starting point for getting recommendations is to give them. Be generous with your positive feedback to others, and don’t be afraid to ask for Recommendations from people who are genuinely able to give you a testimonial about your work.
And once you are on LinkedIn, be proactive in using it. Update your status once or twice a week to let your connections know what you are up to. Interact with your connections by commenting on their status updates and blogs. If you blog, you can either share your blogs via the status update box. Or you can use the LinkedIn blogging platform. Just click on the Share a Post box to do this.
LinkedIn in a powerful tool to help you connect with and maintain professional networks. But it’s only part of the picture. See here for some simple tips for face to face networking.