With over 175 million users, most professionals are using LinkedIn, but there is a big difference between being present and being active.
LinkedIn commands a visitor-to-lead conversion rate three times higher than Facebook and Twitter, and it’s time for all of us to give LinkedIn the respect and attention it deserves.
Ask yourself these questions to see if you’re doing it right:
- Have you recently updated your skills?
- Have you shared content in a group?
- Do you set aside some time every day to sign in and join the conversation?
If the answer to more than two of these questions is no, you’re probably not doing enough. Read on for 3 easy things you can do to get the most out of the largest professional network in the world.
Your profile: A name and title are not enough
On LinkedIn, as in life, you’ll get nowhere without a solid foundation. That foundation is your profile. Sure, your name, company, title, and phone number are important, but a meaningful relationship is not built on those alone. Here are some quick tips to bring your profile to 100% completion (LinkedIn provides a helpful tool for this) and make sure you’re offering what people want:
- Set a personalized URL with your name, instead of the jumble LinkedIn generates automatically.
- Create a unique excerpt: Can you summarize your professional self in a single sentence that sets you apart from everyone else? Summon Hemingway and give it a shot.
- Not a yearbook photo: No Kids, no pets, no parties. Your photo should strike a balance between professionalism and approachability and should make you look good, but also real.
- Your summary is an ad: The summary can be the hardest part of a LinkedIn profile, so think about it as an ad for your professional value. Focus less on what you’ve done and shift to what you want to achieve. Use keywords popular to your industry (there are tools for this), and then explain who you are.
- Cut the clutter: Your profile should enforce your current goals. Don’t waste space detailing your past life as an accountant if you’re now a web developer. A company, job title and brief description will do for previous experience. If your profile is cluttered, someone might wonder what your priorities are.
- Connect: Get recommendations and provide them to others. Your profile is not a resume, so make sure it doesn’t read like one.
Build a network: quality AND quantity
Building your network requires more time than strategy. Start with friends and family and others you know, and build your network from there. Use tools like People You May Know and Viewers of This Profile Also Viewed to turn one connection into ten more. Some view connections as simply a numbers game, and while it is important to increase your connections to expand your reach, consider the quality of your connections. In short, get to the decision makers. When asking to connect, add a personal note rather than the one automatically generated by LinkedIn.
Get involved: Be a digital social butterfly
Nobody ever won business going to a networking event and standing quietly in the corner. LinkedIn is no different; If you don’t engage, it won’t do you any good. That’s why it is important to jump in and join the conversation. Here’s how:
- Update your status frequently with relevant information that reflects your expertise. Avoid clichés and sayings or general ramblings (that’s for Facebook and Twitter). Link to your blog, but not every time.
- Engage groups that are of interest to you or your industry, and visit those groups often to check for discussions in which you can participate. Get in the conversation.
- Engage companies and review updates on hirings, departures and internal promotions. Find opportunity to congratulate and identify needs within that company.
- Consider applications like SlideShare to add presentations.
These tips should give you a great start towards getting the most out of LinkedIn.