So you have a LinkedIn account… now, what do you do? LinkedIn is a truly unique social platform, and if professional networking is at all useful to you, then it’s the place to be. Gone are the days where LinkedIn is only used by desperate college grads hoping that a well-timed connection could land them that first job out of college. In the last few years, LinkedIn has experienced a resurgence, and many organizations have big plans with the network (including Microsoft which has $26 billion worth of plans). So the question is, how can LinkedIn help you and what should you do to capitalize on it?
Why should you care?
LinkedIn is known as the “business” social network. No sharing cat pics or goofy memes here. Through self-regulated, unwritten rules of conduct, LinkedIn users will generally only create and share content that is in some way business related. What does this mean for you? It means if you have knowledge, experience, or skills in a particular industry, you can leverage that skill-capital to generate influence and attention. More attention means more opportunities for networking, and more networking means more chances to generate business. In short, a LinkedIn presence can help your bottom line.
So where do you begin? Here are five simple action steps that can improve your LinkedIn game and get value out of the social network:
1. Have a professional head-shot and cover photo
The only thing worse than no profile picture (which believe it or not, some people still lack), is some low-quality selfie pic. That vacation picture probably isn’t the right one either. Your profile picture is the image you are presenting to the world. Get a professional headshot. It’s well worth the money.
Utilize your cover photo to convey your skill set or organization. This is a simple, visual way to help your visitors immediately identify what you do. The sooner they “get it”, the sooner you can get down to business. It also makes sense to refresh this from time-to-time. While your profile picture can stay somewhat static, a new cover image can give your profile page a whole, new look.
Quick Tip: If you are designing a cover image, the ideal dimensions are 1,584px x 396px (at the time of this article).
2. Fill out your Headline, Profile Details, and Summary
As opposed to other social networks, your LinkedIn profile is essentially your elevator pitch. Make sure it’s succinct but has depth. Complete, but not overwhelmingly text heavy. This is your chance to hook visitors, so it’s always good to put yourself in the mind of your target audience. What will they think when they view your profile? Does it exude the image you want?
In a few seconds, a profile visitor should be able to identify your organization, job title, and key skill sets. If any of that isn’t obvious, you run the risk of never connecting with that person.
3. Get to 500+ Connections, ASAP!
Similar to “friend” connections on Facebook, LinkedIn organizes networks based on 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, and 3rd-degree connections.
- 1st-degree: People you have added and they have added you back (much like “Friend Requests” on Facebook).
- 2nd-degree: People connected to your 1st-degree connections, or in other words, a friend of a friend.
- 3rd-degree: People connected to your 2nd-degree connections.
Part of your mission on LinkedIn should be to add connections in your industry or geographic location such that you can be a 2nd-degree connection with as many decision-makers as possible. This will build your influence on the platform and say to new connections, “This person knows all the same people I know!”.
Quick Tip: There is a big difference between having 499 and 501 connections. Any number over 500 simply shows on your profile as “500+”. Whether you have 501 or 10,000 connections, it always shows on your profile as “500+”. This is a credibility piece. Anything less than 500+ says to visitors that this person must not be that well-connected.
4. Seek Skill Endorsements and Recommendations
Another way to establish credibility is to earn endorsements for relevant skills in your industry. If you are a sales trainer, it makes sense to have endorsements for “Sales”, “Sales Management”, “Sales Training”, etc. If you are in Information Technology, “IT”, “IT Consulting”, “IT Strategy”, as well as platforms that you might be proficient in, such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.
Sometimes you’ll organically get endorsements from connections you have, but most of the time you’ll need to proactively ask others for endorsements. A simple private message explaining some of the skills you are working on boosting, and offering in exchange to endorse a few of their skills. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”.
5. Start posting and sharing content
Like any social platform, to be relevant, you have to contribute. Creating content is a simple way to garner attention. Stories related to business experiences you’ve had can play well. Long-copy posts (posts with higher word-counts), while usually not effective on a platform like Instagram, can work great on LinkedIn. Just keep the content business-friendly and engaging. Generally, it’s smart to avoid religion and politics (and cat photos, of course).
When compared to other social platforms, LinkedIn was late to the game with video. That means if you post video content on LinkedIn, you definitely will have an opportunity to stand out. In fact, posting video content will automatically place you in the top 1% of all content producers on LinkedIn. It’s hard to get that kind of attention on any other social network.
To learn more about how LinkedIn can impact your business, or receive a free “profile audit”, reach out to the experts at FreshMove Media. We’re your partner in all things digital.