Most people today have a LinkedIn account, a Facebook page and possibly a Twitter account. However, the question as to whether or not their LinkedIn account is actively being used is a whole different matter. LinkedIn tends to be a network that is used for job hunting, or just sharing the occasional company update – which to be honest is not the way to get the most out of the network, if that’s all you’re doing.
LinkedIn is the third largest social network and the place potential employers, clients and business partners will go to check you (and your business or employer) out. It’s therefore essential that you are active and manage your account proactively to demonstrate your professional abilities, expertise and the skills of your organisation.
So here are our top tips on how to build your professional online brand through LinkedIn.
Complete your profile
Aside from making sure your current employment details are up to date, there are plenty of other things you can update to ensure you have an “All-Star” profile.
- Include a professional looking photograph (because of the nature of this network, selfies from your holiday or latest night out might not be the best choice)
- There is also the option to add a background image (size 1400 x 425 pixels) – be mindful the image will be overlaid with other elements of your profile, so consider this if you’re adding images that include text
- For your professional headline, use keywords rather than just your job title – the latter will feature in your current employment details anyway, so if you have specialist skills, include them in your headline. For example: Digital Marketing Professional | Digital Media Specialist
- Customise your LinkedIn url, https://uk.linkedin/com/in/yourinitialname
- Update your contact information – if you’re happy to, include your email address and Twitter handle, it’s also a good place to mention your company website, company blog and/or your own personal blog if you have one
- Write a comprehensive (although not too lengthy) bio summary to highlight your strengths and key achievements
- You can also upload rich media, so if you have any video, presentations or brochures for you or your company, upload them to further enhance your profile with examples of your (and your company’s) work
- Ensure your previous employment and education details are completed – these appear uppermost in your profile, and as such are among the first things people will see about you
- Remember if you prefer not to have profile updates (new connections, groups, skills, birthdays, work anniversaries and such like) shared with your connections, you can say ‘no’ to notifications
Expand your network
Once you have an up to date profile and you’re connected with people you’re working with, don’t just leave your account to run itself. You can begin to optimise your account and improve your own search rankings by joining large and relevant groups. As your confidence builds, you should start to engage in these groups. Initially start with liking posts or discussions, then add comments and share content into these groups.
Your connections will soon start to build, and as interest in you grows, so may interest in the company you work for.
Support your company LinkedIn page
As you build your credibility, you will also be helping to raise awareness of your employer. Most will have a company page, like ours for example, which is used to share business news and industry updates. Engage with your network by passing on these updates, adding your own short commentary so that people scanning their newsfeeds see a reason to stop and click through to read the full story. Often people will like company updates, but tend to interact with individuals rather than the company brand. This is why it is important for businesses to encourage their employees to share updates.
Even if you share one update a week, it’s important not to leave your account inactive. Some people say to me they don’t know what to share; yet there’s so much content out there! Between company updates, content you read on other social networks, plus the amount of posts now being published within LinkedIn (which you can catch up with ‘Pulse’, in the Interests section or from email alerts), there’s plenty to choose from – just make sure you’re sharing something of interest that will resonate with, and engage, your connections.
Get testimonials and recommendationsIf you’re working on a project or campaign with a client, supplier or even colleague, ask if they would be willing to endorse your skills – far too often this is overlooked or only considered when looking for new employment. If they’re happy to recommend you, it couldn’t be easier as you can ask to be recommended directly through LinkedIn.
What to avoid
Be careful not to undo all the great work you’re doing as you build your network and become a more confident LinkedIn member. Here are just a few things to avoid:
- Being too self-promotional – it’s great to share company updates, but you need to demonstrate you have interests in other people and organisation’s views
- Endorsing peoples skills that you can’t actually testify too - unless you can truly vouch for a person’s skill, you really are not doing them any favours by endorsing them
- Blanket connecting with every suggested connection – occasionally you can connect without demonstrating a relationship but ideally you should have a valid reason for wanting to connect and extend your professional network
- Being shy - you work in a professional environment and are just as entitled to use this network to share updates and news about your profession, you can even publish your own content – have you tried that yet?
- Using LinkedIn in the same way you might use other networks, such as Facebook or Twitter – post about things that relate to your career, profession or the industry you’re working in
With over 20 million members in the UK (400 million + worldwide), LinkedIn is the place to manage your professional identity, promote your work and the expertise of your company. As a network it presents a wealth of opportunities, both for you personally by building and engaging with fellow professionals, and also for your employer.
As a media channel, this network is often added to marketing campaign plans so don’t forget to include it in your personal marketing activities. With the new vastly improved app, there’s never been a better time to dust off your LinkedIn account and start building your professional network.