Out of all the social media networks online, the most niche one has to be LinkedIn. It is almost exclusively for business networking and finding your next job. And miraculously, despite Microsoft buying the company, it hasn’t been wrecked yet by the Redmond curse. People are bustling and hustling, making money (or attempting to) and polishing their elevator pitches. But very few people actually know how to use LinkedIn more effectively.
Some think it’s just a case of uploading their resume, sitting back, and waiting for the job offers to arrive. While it’s true that you can use LinkedIn as your static resume page, you need to do a lot more work than that if you want companies and headhunters to notice you.
Tips & Tricks That Will Help You Use LinkedIn More Effectively
It’s only in the past few months that I have started to take LinkedIn more seriously. During this time, here are the things I have discovered about this platform.
Write Your Profile Properly & SEO-Optimize It
This is the one area where people fall down right away.
You have to remember how LinkedIn works from the recruiter/headhunter perspective. They are looking for a particular type of person to hire – say an engineer. So they type “engineer” into the search engine and see what comes up. They may also add “London” because they want an engineer in London.
Now if you are an engineer in London looking for work, what do you think you need to do to get on the radars of these hiring companies? Does your profile need to mention your love of extreme wrestling? Do you need to link to your cat’s website? No, you need to make sure the words “engineer” and “London” are mentioned throughout.
Please note I am not advocating keyword spamming. What I do recommend is keeping the profile relevant so you are found by the right people.
Summarize Your LinkedIn Headline With What You Do
The headline on your profile is one of the first things people will see when you pop up in their search results. So it needs to be concise, relevant, and interesting. It also ties in with the SEO-optimization I just mentioned.
If you are a freelance writer, don’t just say “freelance writer”. Otherwise, you will get drowned out by the hundreds of thousands of other freelance writers out there. Plus, you are not explaining what you do and what you are an expert in.
So I have put mine as “Fiction Author, Freelance Editor, & Freelance Writer Specialising In Tech, Cybersecurity, B2B Copywriting, & SEO”. That way, anyone looking for a writer in those areas knows what I do. Analyze your own skills and decide how you would describe yourself in two or three sentences. No more.
List Your Current & Past Employers
You then need to start listing all of your current and past employers. Depending on your work history, this can either be quick or can take a while.
If you have a long work history across various industries, I would stick to the jobs that are relevant to what you are doing now. So I have focused on my writing work and have excluded the time I dressed up as a hot dog in the Netherlands to advertise a roadside cafe (ah, the carefree joys of youth). Why would an editor be interested in me being a hot dog in 1995? So keep things relevant.
Click the “+” next to “Experience” and fill out the box that pops up. I would strongly recommend unticking “Update My Headline.” Otherwise, that great SEO-optimized headline you just made before will get wiped out.
Add Links To Your Work Including YouTube Videos
Once prospective recruiters see that you are a possible candidate, they will then want to see your work. As the saying goes, “show, don’t tell.” So get your work out and show them what you’ve got.
In the box you filled in to add an employer, there was a section for uploaded media and web links. Here, you can upload PDF files, add web links to your employee pages and websites, and add YouTube video links.
These types of media can also be added to your introduction at the top of the page.
The more you add to your page, the more impressive you will look. And first impressions count.
Add Professional Qualifications & Organization Memberships
It goes without saying that you can’t say you’re a doctor unless you have a medical degree. Or a lawyer unless you have a law degree. So give yourself more credibility by listing your professional qualifications and organization memberships.
But professional organizations only. People don’t need to be told about your honorary membership of the Cookie Monster Association.
Build Up Your Network
LinkedIn isn’t worth anything if you don’t have a professional network built up there. After all, that is the essence of what LinkedIn is. It’s the online equivalent of passing out your business cards at conferences and staying in touch.
LinkedIn offers the ability to connect your email contact list so it can scan it to find people who are already LinkedIn members. It will then ask if you want LinkedIn to send an invite to your other contacts to set up a LinkedIn account.
Be very careful with this last option. In the past, LinkedIn has spammed my contacts with LinkedIn invitations. I then got the blame from my contacts for spamming them.
Ask Your LinkedIn Connections For a Reference
You can tell everyone on your LinkedIn page how fantastic you are at your job. But it carries more weight and credibility if others also say how great you are. Every potential new employer wants to see recommendations from past employers. LinkedIn is no different.
A couple of prerequisites though. First, you have to be a LinkedIn contact to the person you are asking a reference from. Second, the relevant job needs to be on your LinkedIn page. Third, you can only send one request, which stops spamming.
Under “Add Profile Section”, scroll down to “Additional Information,” then “Request a Recommendation.” You will be asked to choose the contact you want the recommendation for and the job it is for. Then wait.
Once the recommendation arrives, you will be able to pre-approve it before it appears on your page. So you don’t have to worry about being ambushed by a terrible recommendation. You can even request that the recommendation be amended.
Add Thoughtful Helpful Comments To Other Discussions
LinkedIn is just like any other social media site. It rises and falls based on the quality of the conversation. If it is all promotion and not enough conversation, people would get rapidly turned off and leave.
So to show you are not just using people on LinkedIn to pay your next rent, give more than you get. Add helpful thoughtful comments to conversation threads. Establish yourself as someone people should follow and listen to. The business will follow later.
If You Have a Company, Claim Your Page
As well as a personal profile, you can also claim a company page if you have a company. This can be invaluable for getting your brand out there. I have a page for my writing business but I don’t really use it. As a sole proprietor, I am more focused on promoting myself as a person.
But if you have employees and a brand to promote, click “Work” in the top right-hand corner. Then “Create a company page.” Make sure you put your logo on it and ask your employees to put the page down on their profiles as their employer.
Follow Other Company Pages & People For Unique Insights
Many companies run pages not only to spread their brand but to also communicate a message to people. This can be anything from “buy our product!” to revealing what the company’s mission statement is.
High-profile people also set up company pages for people to follow because they most likely don’t want to be overwhelmed by connection requests on an ordinary LinkedIn page.
Following companies and people you admire is an excellent way to gain insights into how they work and think. It also shows people who view your page which kinds of companies and people interest you.
Set Up Job Search Notifications
Increasingly, the place to go for job vacancies to be posted and for applicants to respond is LinkedIn, and why not? There’s a ready-made audience right there. Recruiters looking for people and people looking for recruiters. Also, if you find something, many of the adverts will allow you to apply by clicking one button and submitting your LinkedIn details.
To browse vacancies, click on “Jobs” at the top of the page. Then type in what kind of job you’re looking for and in what location. You can then scroll through the results and see the job details on the right in a split screen.
To save that job search (and to get email notifications of new jobs), click “Create Search Alert.”
Export Your Profile As a Resume PDF File
If you need to go for an interview in person, you will need to take your resume along (or CV in other parts of the world). But why go to all the effort of making a resume when you can turn your LinkedIn profile into one instead?
Just go to to your profile page, click the “More” button, then “Save to PDF.” The resume will then be automatically downloaded to your computer.
It was only in the last couple of months that I decided to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium. You get your first month free of charge and it’s only $10 a month after that.
One premium feature I like is on the jobs page. When you are looking at an advert, it tells you how you rank amongst the other applicants, based on the information on your profile page. This can give you an instant idea of how much of a chance you have of getting the job.
You also get advanced analytics, including the identities of everybody who looked at your profile. Something not available for free users.
Finally, you normally are not allowed to message anyone whom you are not connected to on LinkedIn, again for spam reasons. But premium members are given a limited number of credits each month to send unsolicited messages to LinkedIn members they are not connected to (I think it’s five). This can be helpful for tentatively reaching out to business prospects, but obviously use the feature cautiously.
Compared to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is perhaps the overlooked runt of the litter. The fact it has a highly specialized niche (business) means not everyone is attracted to go there. But that is actually a big plus. Only serious business people inhabit LinkedIn, which means the atmosphere and conversation quality is excellent.