The real benefits of Linkedin come when you join in, when you engage and offer opinion and recommendation. If like me, you believe in karma, you’ll believe that good things happen to those who do good things. Clean up your profile in line with the tips below and allow yourself fifteen minutes a day to check in and keep it ticking over.
1. Profile name / account set up – Sounds obvious but secure your name or the ‘easiest to remember’ version of it. (Whilst you are at, do the same on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, SlideShare and any other content site you might prepare to use in the future).
2. Profile content – Structure your content as follows:
Picture – Seems obvious, but people like to see a face, rather than a blank square or a company logo. Use a head shot, so there is some detail. Avoid glasses and hats and smile – this makes you more approachable. Avoid boring corporate styles.
Title/Description – Keywords are short and punchy. Make it about what you are and/or what you do and the value you add.
Career highlights – Add a few lines about each of your career positions, the companies you’ve worked for, your role, responsibilities and achievements. Keep them light but high impact. This means focusing on your impact on sales, brand launches, new initiatives, or improvements in quality, process, training or operations if you are not in a commercial role.
Links – Set up, and channel a Twitter account (more below). Link to your company website or your blog (if you don’t have one, set one up on a topic you are passionate about).
Personal information – Like a CV, add a little personality to your profile by displaying some sports or leisure interests. Remember people ultimately buy people.
3. Contacts – Once your profile is set, look up key people you’ve worked with at the companies you’ve listed. You should already start receiving connection recommendations in the top right of your profile page when you sign in. Linkedin generally recommends that you link only with people you know through specific parameters. I’d guard against spamming people in groups (see below) or prospective clients you would like to work with. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
A note on LIONs: Linkedin Open Networkers. These are the guys who think quantity supercedes quality. Personally I don’t. My view is that you are far better having close relationships with 100 people you know than 1,000 people you don’t. Linkedin has been flooded with recruitment specialists connecting with anyone and everyone. Though in theory, your status updates may reach a wider audience by appearing in a LIONs feed, I counsel against connecting with too many of them because they are not fundamentally into developing deep relationships.
4. Status – As the name suggests, update this at least daily as this information appears in the feeds of all your contacts and in email digests. Use it to position yourself in their minds. (What have been working on? Who for? Link to a new blog post).
5. Testimonials – Opinion is divided as to the validity of testimonials, but I think if you consider Linkedin as your professional shop window, you want to dress it up as credibly as possible. Ask a select few previous and current managers, and a few line reports (especially those who were managed to bigger and better things) to recommend your approach, style, creativity, organisation and all round management skills. The only harm is in having everyone and his dog recommending you. They need to come from credible sources.
6. Groups – Getting involved in groups of like minded people is the cornerstone of the Linkedin experience. There is a group for almost everything on Linkedin. Search and sign up for one to try it out. When you request to join, tick the box to received the daily email digest of activity. This provides links direct to new discussions, news, jobs etc within that group. Then, build your profile and credibility by adding comments to existing discussions, sharing interesting news and views from the Internet, and in time create your own discussions, ask questions run polls.
7. Liking / following – A new feature, adapted from other sites like Facebook and Ecademy, which can alert people to informative, relevant content. I’m not sure of this simply because LIONs can easily amass lots of likes/follows for fairly average content. The jury for me is out on this one, but using this functionality for others will undoubtedly raise your profile as you navigate groups and discussions. The like/follow functionality now has a role in highlighting key weekly influencers in groups, so if your ego needs a boost, try it out.
8. Answers – Like groups, this is a great feature to really build your profile as an expert in your field. Selecting the Answer tab via ‘More’ in the top bar allows you to browse all categories and provide feedback and recommendations to questions posed by other Linkedin members, worldwide.
9. Twitter – Integrating Twitter into your Linkedin activity can be done well but I’d personally caution against automatically syncing all tweets through Twitter. With all the RTs, @’s, # hashtags, shortened URLs, it is like text speak. Done well, it can promote content being promoted on other platforms and develop your contacts across them. Be cautious, though, if you are using Twitter for leisure and Linkedin for business.
10. Linked applications (Twitter, WordPress, SlideShare, Amazon, TripIt etc) – There are a wealth of applications that you can easily integrate into your Linkedin profile. As well as Twitter, the most popular ones are WordPress blogs where recent posts can be displayed on your profile page. The same thing applies to Slideshare presentation and document templates. Books you want to read, are reading or have read can be profiled and reviewed using the Amazon application. This provides contacts an insight into what your fields of speciality and interest. And Tripit can be used to keep them up to date with your travel movements. As ever, be cautious, especially if people have your personal contact details and address and you are planning on being away from home.
Take a steady approach and you should quickly find Linkedin to be an information rich resource full of interesting and experienced people, for the most part happy to help, advise and support as needed.