If you’re like many professionals, you’re probably familiar with the business-oriented social networking site known as LinkedIn. Maybe you already have a profile– because you’ve heard that you should– that sits in cyberspace, collecting virtual dust. However, used correctly, LinkedIn can become a powerful tool for opening doors and making important connections in your industry. After all, professionals connecting with each other through recommendations and referrals is nothing new– both have been long-term practices of successful businesses. What has changed, however, is the means of connecting; LinkedIn has essentially taken over as the playground where professionals come together to introduce and be introduced. Additionally, according to Forbes, LinkedIn usage is especially high among the educated and high earners. Below we will discuss some tips for making the most of your LinkedIn presence:
Complete your profile. It’s time to clean off that virtual dust and give your LinkedIn profile a makeover. The truth is, how your profile looks matters. Users with complete profiles are much more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. To ensure that your profile is complete, make sure you include the following: your industry, location, your current position with a description, at least two past positions, your education, at least 3 skills, and a minimum of 50 connections. Additionally, be sure to upload a photo– a professional headshot is best.
Focus on your headline. Your headline is the first description of your professional brand that people will see when they view your profile. Make it count. Avoid simply listing your job title and company name. Instead, consider including: what you do, who you help, how you can make work or life better for the viewer, and proof that you are credible. How can you prove credibility? If possible, list current clients, certifications, and/or places that have featured your work.
Get connected. Remember that LinkedIn is all about networking, so connections matter. Connect with current and former colleagues, managers, and clients. Reach out to others in your industry. If you share several mutual connections or group memberships with a person, connecting might be worthwhile. Additionally, consider accepting connections from people whose profile impresses you and those who have taken the time to send a personalized connection request.
Stay active. Now that you’ve developed your profile, be sure to stay active. Even if you don’t currently have a grand purpose for using the site, checking in regularly is smart networking. Update your profile if it’s warranted through a position change or new achievement. Share industry-relevant articles with your connections.