LinkedIn Tips and Tricks
LinkedIn is one of the most important resources to utilize not only just for your job search, but for networking, keeping up with industry news and trends, possible new clients or business, and staying in the public eye. It is a very important part of your job search as well, as most potential employers will check out your LinkedIn page (as well as any other social media accounts you have, but we’ll get to those later). LinkedIn is social media for professionals, not to be used as you would Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Below are some tips and tricks on how to utilize LinkedIn most effectively during your job search and on a day-to-day basis.
Creating Your Profile
Profile picture – It is incredibly important to have a photo on your profile. As is with all social media, unfortunately there are some fake accounts on LinkedIn, and if you don’t have a photo to go with your profile, people will often not connect with you because they’re not sure if your account is legit. It’s also very important to remember that LinkedIn is used for professionals, so no beer-drinking bikini pics. You must keep in mind that this is oftentimes the first impression that someone will get of you before you meet. Make sure you are representing yourself in the best light for potential future employers or clients. I’m not saying you must go out and have a professional picture taken, but you may want to consider it in order to look as professional as possible.
You also now have the option of including a headline photo on your profile. This could be something related to your profession, your hobbies, where you live, etc. Just make sure that it is of course appropriate for a professional profile. This is another way to show a bit of your personality in your profile.
Headline – Besides your photo, the first thing people will see on your profile is your headline, so this is a perfect place to summarize what you are currently doing or looking for. A generic headline such as “Marketing Manager at Acme Products” tells your audience what you do technically, but it’s not very eye-catching and doesn’t really give them much useful information. Choose something that sets you apart from the crowd and shows a bit of your personality. “Content Creator and Creative Whiz for Mid-Sized Tech Company” tells a little more about what you do any stands out from the rest of the generic headlines where people only post their job title and maybe the company name that they work for. Just like your photo, your headline needs to represent who you are as a professional but also as an individual, hopefully showing a bit of your personality.
Summary – The summary is a place where you can really show off your skills, experience, education, and personality. You have a lot more space here than in the headline area, so take the opportunity to tell your audience a little bit about yourself – what are you passionate about, what drives you, what are your goals, what have been some of your key accomplishments? Use this space to brag about yourself and give your audience a better feel for who you are as a person and as a professional.
Some tips about writing your summary:
- Write like you would normally talk. Avoid too much industry jargon, and just sound like a person. Write how people read. Don’t be afraid to tell an appropriate joke or pun, or to display a bit of silliness. It’s ok to show that we are all human!
- There’s some debate as to whether your summary and profile should be written in first or third person. I personally prefer to read a profile that has been written in first person, as it sounds much more personal and like you wrote it for yourself instead of having someone do it for you. I get that it is sometimes difficult to write about yourself so getting other’s opinions or help writing your summary is a great idea, just remember to use your voice and not make it impersonal.
- Use this space to show off your accomplishments. You don’t have to be overly braggadocios, but also don’t sell yourself short. Try to present your accomplishments in a way that will show your audience what kind of value you can bring to them, whether it’s a new employer or client.
- Incorporate keywords but make them sound natural. As users are searching LinkedIn, they may search by keyword and you want to make sure that your profile comes up on relevant searches. If it sounds too forced or awkward to incorporate the keywords into your narrative, you can always list them separately at the bottom of your summary (see example).
Make sure your profile is complete – This means including your industry and location, contact info (an email address at the very least), your current or most recent position and the last two or three that you’ve held (if they’re relevant – no need to include a retail gig that you worked 10 years ago if it’s not applicable to the work you’re doing or looking to do now), your education, at least 3-5 skills, but preferably as many as you actually have, and any volunteer experience you have.
Additional important information – I encourage you to add videos, presentations you’ve given, articles you’ve written or that mention you, links to web pages you have created, or anything else that showcases your talents in a quantifiable way, not just by written summary.
Experience – You don’t want your LinkedIn profile to simply be a regurgitation of your resume. This is another great place to add keywords that your target audience may be using to search on the platform, but again, make it sound natural. Your description of your current and previous positions doesn’t need to be incredibly long, just a quick summary of what the company does and how you fit in.
Customize your URL – You have the ability to customize your LinkedIn URL so that it personalized to you – something like linkedin.com/in/yourname. This makes the URL much shorter and easier to add to your resume, email signature, bio, or other appropriate places.
Make sure your profile stays up to date – Be sure to check periodically to make sure the information on your profile is still relevant. Delete any contact information, websites, or social media that you no longer use or links that no longer work. Remove your high school information unless there’s a specific reason you want to include it (maybe you’re fresh out of school and want to make connections with others from your school). Streamline information on earlier positions in your career, unless they are relevant to what you are currently doing or looking to do.
Proofread, proofread, proofread! – You may even want someone else to take a look at your profile as an extra set of eyes never hurt. Again, you want to represent yourself in the best possible way, so spelling, grammatical, punctuation, or capitalization errors could turn people off very quickly. Make sure you refer to your previous positions in past tense. Also, make sure the positions and dates listed on your profile match those on your resume, as this could be a red flag for potential future employers if they don’t match.
So You’ve Created a Killer Profile, Now What?
Start connecting – LinkedIn will provide suggestions of people who you may know or might want to connect with, or you can also allow LinkedIn to access your contacts and they can search for people you know that way. You can find people by name, industry, company name, location, schools they attended, keywords… there are a ton of options. When you send a connection request to someone, unless you are already pretty close with them, it is always a good idea to include a note – doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just something to remind them of who you are and how you know them. For example, “Hi Sarah, not sure if you remember me but we met at that conference in San Diego last year and I would love to connect and network with you!”. Also, look for top influencers in your industry and follow them, which allow you to see their posts and interact with them.
Ask for introductions – LinkedIn will tell you if someone you’re looking for may already be a part of your network. So for example if you’re job hunting and want to look up who the hiring manager for the position is, his/her profile will tell you if you have any connections in common. If so, reach out to that common contact and ask for an introduction. It’s always easier to get your foot in the door if you already know someone there.
Ask for recommendations – You can both ask for and give recommendations. Reach out to people who you have worked closely with and ask them to write a quick recommendation for your profile as this gives people looking at your profile a bit more insight into you and what kind of person and employee you are, and you can never have too many positive reviews!
Join groups – You can search for groups based upon keyword, topic, location, networking groups, alumni groups, the possibilities are endless. Each group has someone who monitors who joins and what people are posting so that they don’t just end up getting spammed. Once you find a group you would like to join, you just send a request, and the moderator will either approve or deny your admission. Groups are great places to network, share articles, collaborate, ask for advice, and offer your opinions. You may also want to look at the profiles of people you are interested in and see which groups they are a part of, getting one step closer to them and showing them your value by the way you participate.
Be active – I know a lot of people who have created LinkedIn pages and then never looked at them again or have just gone dormant. You don’t want to only be active when you are job hunting or need something from someone else. You want to show your value, so write original content, share posts, comment on or like other people’s posts, or share relevant articles. Just remember that this is not Facebook, so keep your content professional.
Give as much as you take – A huge no-no in networking is only reaching out to your contacts when you need something from them. Sure, most people are happy to provide an introduction, recommendation, or other favor, but you need to reciprocate. Provide recommendations for others (you can do it without them even asking you to), share articles or content that you think would be interesting or helpful to a specific person or group. The point is that if you only show up when you need something people will start to ignore your requests and their opinion of you could be tainted. Just remember that networking goes both ways and offering help to someone else will definitely earn you points if you ever need something from them in the future.
What Not to Do
Share inappropriate content or make inappropriate comments – Please remember that LinkedIn is a place for professionals to network, collaborate, and share content, so make sure whatever you’re contributing is appropriate for a professional setting. Stay away from polarizing topics such as politics and religion (unless there is a very specific reason to mention them) because you don’t want to get into heated conversations over sensitive subjects on this platform.
Share proprietary or other information about your company that they are not ready to go public with – Keep in mind that your employer will most likely see your profile, and if for some reason they don’t, someone else will tip them off if it seems that you are over-sharing sensitive information.
Badmouth anyone – This should go without saying, but never badmouth anyone on social media platforms, especially former companies, bosses, co-workers, clients, etc. Not only will this make you look petty and mean, it will turn off potential employers or clients as they will most likely wonder what you would say in public about them. You never want to burn bridges as you never know when you may run into someone again down the road.
As always, I am more than happy to help create or update LinkedIn profiles and am always available for questions. What other tips or tricks do you have that I haven’t mentioned?