Read on for tips on how you can use your LinkedIn profile to deliver positive financial results.
With more than 400 million members, LinkedIn offers countless opportunities for business connections and career advancement all around the globe. The professional networking service lets you establish and maintain business contacts, explore business opportunities and find that perfect new job you’ve been dreaming about. But many LinkedIn members fail to put this unique business networking service to full use. Your LinkedIn profile is a powerful tool that can help you expand your business, find a higher-paying job and much more, so it’s vital to make sure the profile you create is as good as it possibly can be.
What is LinkedIn used for?
LinkedIn is a social networking service that focuses on business and professional connections. LinkedIn users can create an online CV of their employment history, connect with other professionals and have their say in business-related discussions. It has around four million members in Australia and roughly 400 million around the globe.
LinkedIn users can:
- Highlight their work experience, knowledge and skills to potential employers
- Keep in touch with professional contacts across organisations and industries as a whole
- Stay up to date with industry trends and developments
- Search for jobs
- Participate in business-related group discussions
Top 10 tips to create a better LinkedIn profile
Complete your profile
This might seem like an incredibly obvious tip to start with, but you might be surprised just how many people start creating their LinkedIn profile with the intention of finishing it later but then never come back to complete the job. Understandably, a partially finished profile does not create a good impression on a potential employer or business contact; instead, it makes it seem like you’re someone who doesn’t have the patience or time management skills to see a project through to completion.
Add a photo
Anyone who’s ever spent time house hunting will know that if a real estate sales advertisement doesn’t have any photos, it’s usually because there’s something very wrong with the house for sale. So when employers come across a LinkedIn profile missing the crucial element of a photo, they automatically start to wonder why there’s no picture. Including a photo also has the benefit of ensuring that your contacts know they are connecting with the right person - that bright and talented young professional they met at a conference last week is definitely you, not one of the 26 other LinkedIn users with the same name. The importance of choosing the right photo can’t be understated either. This is not the place for family photos or drunken party shots - a professional head shot is the way to go.
Update your status - professionally
LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter, so your contacts don’t need to know about what you ate for dinner or how many glasses of champagne you drank at your friend’s 30th birthday on the weekend. Your LinkedIn status lets you update your contacts about any professional achievements or news, such as completing a project or getting a promotion. Updating your status every few days or so will show that you’re active on LinkedIn, and engaged and involved with what you do.
Add a personal touch
One common mistake LinkedIn users make when contacting other professionals is using the networking service’s default connection request. While this presents a quick and easy option, it’s also highly impersonal and might very well get your relationship off on the wrong foot. If you want to build a valuable professional relationship with someone, customise your message to help establish a better connection.
Staying up to date
If you’re not looking for a new job at the moment, you may fall into the trap of thinking that there’s no need to keep updating your LinkedIn account. But LinkedIn gives you the chance to plan for the future – while you may not be actively searching for work, a contact you make now could lead to a dream employment opportunity in a couple of years time. Building strong professional relationships now will ensure that they are available in the future if you ever need them.
Think about the keywords that potential employers and professional connections might type into a LinkedIn search, and make sure those relevant keywords are included in your profile. Simply copying and pasting your resume into your profile won’t do the trick, so include any relevant keywords to optimise your chances of being found.
Create a catchy headline for your profile and use the summary section to sell yourself to potential employers. Instead of using the default professional headline, make sure it is tailored to your particular area of expertise. When writing the summary, meanwhile, don’t write it in the third person - this is a message from you, about what you have to offer. It needs to be energetic and let your personality shine through, allowing your profile to stand out above all the other people with similar qualifications and experience who are competing for the same jobs.
Don’t skimp on the details
A detail-rich LinkedIn profile is a good profile, so include as much information as possible. Displaying your education, work experience, skills, current employment status and more can all help to flesh out your professional identity and help employers and connections get a better feel for who you are and what you do.
Include a little personality (but don’t go overboard)
With around four million Australian members on LinkedIn, making your profile stand out from the rest can be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to give your profile a little bit of character and let some of your personality shine through, as there are so many LinkedIn profiles out there that are boring enough to put you to sleep. LinkedIn lets you add much more depth than an ordinary CV, so take advantage of this feature. Be careful, however - there’s a fine line between showing that you have a sense of humour and looking unprofessional.
Remember the privacy settings
If you’re currently employed but eagerly hunting for a new job, this last LinkedIn tip is a very important one. You will most likely want to be discreet about your hunt for a new job, but if your current employer notices you all of a sudden putting a lot of work into updating your LinkedIn profile and connecting with new people, their suspicions will be aroused. Use LinkedIn’s privacy settings (found under settings, which is located in the drop-down menu under the name in the top right-hand corner) to select who can see your profile.
More LinkedIn tips
There’s plenty more you can do to ensure that your LinkedIn profile enhances your job and career prospects. Make sure to:
Does your resume match your LinkedIn profile? If not, employers will wonder why there are discrepancies between the two and if there’s something you’re trying to hide.
Add media to your profile
Images, links and video can all help to make your profile more interesting and interactive, so don’t be afraid to make use of them.
Just as in your normal CV, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can lead to disaster for your job or connection prospects on LinkedIn. Double-check everything and make sure there are no glaring errors that will see others immediately dismiss your profile.
People who join and are active in LinkedIn groups are five times more likely to have their profile viewed. Find a selection of groups relevant to your professional interests and start contributing.
Avoid negative comments
Using LinkedIn as a platform to criticise your employer or a competitor is a big no-no. Avoid this faux pas at all costs.
Build relationships first
If you’ve just connected with someone on LinkedIn, don’t bombard them with business pitches or requests for favours straight away. You want to build quality relationships over time, and putting the hard sell on people you’ve barely had any contact with is unlikely to go well.
Avoid stalking people
Did you know LinkedIn members can view who visits their profile? Make sure to turn this setting off so that other people can’t see when you’ve visited their profile - you don’t want to look like a stalker.
Value your connections
On Twitter, quantity rules over quality when it comes to followers; the opposite is true on LinkedIn. Don’t just blindly add anyone and everyone to your LinkedIn network; build a network around people you know and work with, and people you want to know and work with.