I talk with Rick Roberge often. A couple of weeks ago, he told me that he was going to update his most read article in the past two years. Then he left for Mexico. He got back today and when he read my article, he said, "Great! Now I don't have to write it."
With more than 347 million users, LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals, and in turn, has positioned itself as one of the top social networks overall. Do you know if you are using LinkedIn to its full potential? In today's digital landscape, a strong LinkedIn profile is vital whether you are looking for a job or looking for new business. Here are your 10 things:
1. Complete Your Profile
This may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked. People get busy or distracted and sometimes forget to finish, but LinkedIn will guide you through completing your profile everytime you log in. To see if your profile is complete, the upper right corner of your profile page has a status section labeled “Profile Strength”. If that doesn’t read “All-Star”, you still have some work to do.
2. Be Findable For The Problem That You Solve
The section right below your name is for “your professional headline”. For the longest time, I had my current job title in that space, but that’s not doing anyone any good. Use this space to describe the problem you can solve or how you help people/companies so if someone types in their problem in the search bar, your profile is one of the results.
3. Create A Custom LinkedIn URL
The default URL is a bunch of numbers and letters. Adding a customized URL gives off a more professional vibe and is easier for people to remember and share.
4. Show How Your Head Works
LinkedIn Pulse is essentially a personal blog to highlight your professional mindset. This space is a great opportunity to show how you think and how you problem-solve. It can also be used to inspire and engage your network, which in turn, will help grow your network.
- LinkedIn has morphed into more than an online resume, but if you are looking for a job, your articles will differentiate you from other candidates and give insight to the employer on what to expect post-hire.
- Current Students can use this space to highlight their volunteering experiences or case studies.
- Professionals should use Pulse to position themselves as a thought leader with their peers, and more importantly with their peers connections. See #6!
5. Join And Participate In Groups
LinkedIn has almost 2 million groups so you are bound to find some of interest. Just don’t join a group to try and sell your wares. No one joins a group to read your sales pitch. Find groups where you can learn something, but also find groups where you can share your expertise. Commenting in groups in a helpful manner is a great way to gain credibility and attract people to your profile.
Not sure what groups to join? Try these categories to start:
- Alumni Groups
- Personal Interests (wellness, networking, coaching, etc…)
- Charities you support
- Social Interests (sports, clubs, etc…)
- Professional Interests (i.e sales, marketing, accounting, etc…)
Find groups where your prospects/clients are asking questions. Example: If you are an accountant/tax preparer, a group where people are asking tax questions would be a good place to gain trusted advisor status.
If you find an article or video that you think may be interesting to your network, share it! Don’t always make it about yourself. At the same time, only sharing other people’s content makes it seem like you have no original thoughts. Balance what you share, with your own content.
7. Engage 2nd Connections
Your first connections probably already know you to varying degrees, but there is a greater opportunity available to reach more people. Your second connections directly know someone you are connected to and are a great source of referrals. Here is an excellent article on how to tap into 2nd Connections.
8. Connect With Anyone?
It’s all about expanding your reach. There used to be a theory that you should only connect with people you know in real life. The LinkedIn platform was being viewed as your real life network, just online but that theory has long since fizzled. Now it’s all about getting found or noticed, and the best way chance of doing that is by having a larger, engaged network. The key word however is “engaged”. A large network that doesn’t know, trust, or respect you will not get you results. I am more lenient, but still selective of who I connect with, only the criteria I use is different. Any of the following are things I look for in a connection:
- I know them personally
- I’ve done business with them (past or present)
- I think they can help me or my connections
- I think I can help them
- I think they would share my content
- They share interesting content I could share with my network
- They are like-minded professionals
- They are potential prospects
- They are connected to potential prospects
9. Pay Attention To “Who’s Viewed Your Profile”
Do you know why someone stopped by? Why not ask them? A simple InMail such as “I noticed that you visited my profile on LinkedIn. What brought you by? Did I do something?” is generally enough to provoke a response. Some will respond and some won’t. It’s ok. Use it as an opportunity to further engage the ones that do. Send an invitation to connect with someone who meets the criteria in #8.
10. Upgrade Your Account
LinkedIn’s free account offers tons of value, but there are some features that require a Premium or greater account to gain access. A Premium account will allow you to narrow search criteria by 8 additional Premium filters: Seniority, Company Size, Interests, Fortune 1000, Functions, Years of Experience, Your groups, New to LinkedIn.
You can also create lead lists, see profiles of 3rd Connections, send InMails, let anyone on LinkedIn see your full profile and message you for free, all of which will allow you to better engage your network.