LinkedIn

Growing your network with LinkedIn

If you’re like me, a long time ago you created a profile on LinkedIn and that was that.

Let’s face it, most people don’t know what the heck to do with LinkedIn after they’ve created their profile. I have to admit, until recently, I hadn’t really considered LinkedIn to be a social media platform worthy of my time. But the funny thing is, even without using it much, a couple of good jobs have come my way because of LinkedIn – in very roundabout ways.

Since I hadn’t updated my profile in ages, most of my skills looked like I was still a Java Programmer, so recruiters reached out to me for programming jobs. And by talking to some of these recruiters, telling them about my career shift, they started talking to me about other work, or told their friends about me, and that led to some web work. So I got to thinking…

If LinkedIn got me work when I wasn’t even trying, what would happen if I actually tried?

So I decided it was time to spruce up my profile, and use LinkedIn’s full potential. I didn’t think it was a very intuitive process, so that’s that’s why I’m writing this “How to” of sorts. Let’s start with the basics…

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a place for professional networking and job searching.

To me it seems like everyone is on LinkedIn, but only a handful are truly active there. Is it worth your time and effort to build a LinkedIn presence? Well, it’s easier than you think, and it can be a powerful tool for building your personal brand. So why not?

Creating Your Profile

Step 1 – Create your introduction

No cute kitties pleaseUpload your profile photo: This should be a current professional-looking headshot. Look happy, but not goofy happy. Crop your photo so it’s a perfect square, and center your face because LinkedIn will crop it into a circle. Please don’t use a photo of your cat. (I can’t tell you how often I’ve seen that.) Cute, yes. Professional, no.

Add a background image: You can add a background image to support your brand, or just add some flair. My background image is a Northwest looking photo I got for free on Canva.com.

Update the headline: Try not to use the default or just your job title if possible. Create a headline that speaks to your audience so they can relate to what you do. Mine says “Builds custom web solutions to support your goals, grow your business, and increase your productivity.”

Include summary information: Tell people more about what you do, your achievements, why choose you. What makes you so darn special? Make this short, sweet, interesting, and again, geared towards your audience. For me, I am using the same words that appear on the home page of my website.

Add media:  Add external documents (like a resume or samples of your work), photos, sites, videos, and presentations. I have to admit, I do not like this interface, so I opted not to use it.

Step 2 – Add profile sections

In the upper right corner of your LinkedIn page you will see a blue box that says, “Add profile section.” Click on that to start adding the following sections:

Your background: Add your work experience, education, and volunteer work, much like you would on your resume. LinkedIn makes this really quick and easy for you.

Skills: LinkedIn also makes it really easy for you to search for and add a list of skills. The skills you list will help others understand your strengths and match you with the right opportunities.

Accomplishments: Don’t be shy here. Have you written any articles? Have a blog? Received any accolades? Speak multiple languages? Belong to any organizations? Put it all down and show how interesting and involved you are. If you are an entrepreneur or freelancer, this is a great place to list the projects you’ve worked on.

These are the types of accomplishments you can add: Publications, Certifications, Courses, Projects, Honors & Awards, Patents, Test Scores, Languages, Organizations. Do it!

Step 3 – Contact and Personal Info

Add a link to your website, your email address, phone number, physical address, birthday, and now you can even add instant messaging. Just add whatever you are comfortable with, but make sure there is at least one way for people to get in touch with you.

Step 4 – Endorsements & Recommendations

Endorsements and recommendations add social proof that you are good at what you do.

A skill endorsement is a one-click way for your connections to endorse the skills listed on your profile. You can do the same for them.

A recommendation is a written endorsement you receive from a connection. You can request recommendations from you connections, and if they write one for you, you can choose to accept it to display on your profile, or not. If you change your mind after accepting it, you can choose to hide it later. And you can write recommendations for your connections, whether they have requested one or not, which they in turn will decide to accept or decline.

Remember, as the saying goes, what you give is what you get.

Step 5 – Add an icon/link to your website that links to your LinkedIn profile

You know, a clickable link in your footer (like I have) and/or include a link on your About page. This way people can get more information about you if they want (that you don’t have to bore them with on your About page) and people can join your network, recommend you on LinkedIn, etc.

Don’t just copy the link from your browser’s address bar, click on the “Edit My Public Profile” button in the upper right corner of LinkedIn, and copy and paste that link onto your site. That way visitors who click on that link won’t be prompted to log into LinkedIn to see your profile.

Okay, now what?

Grow your network

Send and receive invitations. Start sending invitations to people you want to connect with. Only send to people who you think will accept your invitation. LinkedIn will make recommendations for you. You can also import your address list and LinkedIn will give you a list of possible connects that match your entries.

Join groups. Way up top in the header bar there is an icon with a bunch of squares that says “Work.” Click on it and select “Groups” to start looking for groups that may interest you. Once you’ve joined and been accepted to a group, you can now participate in their discussions, share information, make contacts, post jobs, etc.

Share relevant and engaging content. From your LinkedIn Home Page you can share an article, photo, video or idea. Share information that helps people better understand your business, and shows them you are committed to what you do.

Follow companies, leaders, and influencers. Search for companies and people you admire from the search bar. Also search for companies and people who are in your target market. Follow them, and their posts will now appear in your feed, which you in turn can like, comment on, and share with others.

Make comments. Make a meaningful comments about something interesting that shows up in your feed. If you tag the company or person (using the @ sign before their name) they will be notified of your comment. If you notice that they’ve checked out out your profile (only available with Premium LinkedIn) you could invite them to connect.

And that’s it!

This article may seem long, but it really doesn’t take too much time to go through these steps. Or do a little at time. I still need to go back and add more Accomplishments, but I need a little time to think about what I want to include. And I need to get over my fear of connecting and sharing and just do it. I don’t think twice about people who share or connect with me, or ask me for a recommendation – the opposite is true – I respect and appreciate them for it.

So please, update your profile, make connections, share and comment. Rinse. Repeat.

Good luck!

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