Among all discussion about social platforms, LinkedIn is often the last to be mentioned, if not overlooked entirely in some forums. I find it’s very common for people to presume LinkedIn is nothing more than a glorified job search engine. That’s a pity, really! Over the years, I’ve used LinkedIn to measurably advance my own ventures (ventures that never involved a search for employment), and I’ve seen it do good things for clients in targeted industries—such as flooring sales, for example.
If you don’t have LinkedIn on the radar for your business, it’s time to revisit…or, maybe, just visit…this business-focused social network to learn how it can support your business goals. As the social landscape has grown and become more cluttered with options, LinkedIn has held steady—evolving to better align with the varied ways we’re communicating and adding features to invite more robust engagement—all while remaining the professional social network of choice.
LinkedIn: Your Basic To-Do List
LinkedIn was born for business networking. While Facebook and other social platforms are grounded in ‘off the clock’ interactions, the folks who started LinkedIn intentionally created an online environment focused on professional connections. Yes, it does provide ample offerings that are focused on job searches, both for those seeking employment and those looking to hire. But LinkedIn is truly so much more.
Create a complete, comprehensive personal profile.
Your success with LinkedIn begins with your own profile on the site. Fill out every section they offer you, treating each and every aspect as a chance to be discovered. You see, the site is more likely to display people whose profiles are 100% complete in search results. Also—and quite importantly, LinkedIn is a search engine within itself. Business people often come to the site looking for opportunities to connect with people like you in the field in which you’re successful. Use keywords and phrases that could help you appear in relevant search results. For example, back in the day, I landed several great freelance projects because people found me when searching “healthcare technology writer” (yes, that was a specialty service I offered earlier in the 2000s).
And let me address the questions I know you might be asking (because I have been getting these same questions since, like, 2008).
Yes—it’s okay to treat your LinkedIn profile as an online version of your resume, but you really must make it a fluffier version in order to get the real benefit. Go ahead and include your full employment history but use ‘thicker’ content than you might on a traditional resume (with the goal of including more keywords and phrases to help you appear in search results). Don’t skimp; LinkedIn is a great place to unabashedly share your career success with the world. Share specific accomplishments and stand-out moments for each job you include. Make the content interesting as well as fundamentally informative.
Yes—you can exclude select items from your work history for whatever reason. Craft the profile that accurately conveys your talents, skills, and experience as you prefer to display to potential connections today. Should you pursue a specific opportunity for which all the details need to be divulged, you can conquer that directly with a potential employer or client.
Yes—it’s worth the time to fill out every section for which you have good content. Again, it’s good to think of your LinkedIn profile as a “the more content, the better” scenario. The great news is that you don’t really need to revisit the content of your profile very often unless it’s to add something new, as so much of what you’ll be posting is historical information that won’t need to change.
For your LinkedIn profile picture, please use a good, clear headshot focused on your smiling face. A professional headshot with good lighting and high resolution is preferred. However, if you’re not willing to ante up the time or money for pro shots, do your best to get an amateur snap that is truly as professional in nature as possible. If you are using other social platforms for business purposes, it’s advisable to use the same profile picture everywhere to ensure you’re easier to find and connect with across all networks.
Use LinkedIn to share and engage regularly.
With your profile fully completed and fluffed, you’re good to go in using LinkedIn to meaningfully connect. Start by inviting connections with people you already know in your industry and beyond. It’s best to build your network with intention and focus rather than trying to acquire a large connection count or some such vanity metric. By being intentional and focused in connecting with the right business people, you can heighten your chances of being found by new, potential connections that may support your business goals.
Though it’s focused on business, LinkedIn still functions as a social platform. It’s made as a place for you to post and share, as well as to comment and react to your connection’s content, too. I urge you to do so regularly; even just once or twice weekly can bear good results.
From my 11+ years actively using LinkedIn for myself and clients, I can assure you that you’ll get the best, most useful benefits from LinkedIn simply by using it to tell your professional story and interacting with connections. This doesn’t require tons of time—not at all. Give it ten minutes twice a week, and you’ll be on the right path.
Check out and join groups for more targeted interactions.
With your profile fully completed and fluffed and your regular interactions established, you’re good to go in using LinkedIn LinkedIn Groups for more targeted interactions. Join groups based on your industry and professional interests, bearing in mind that you’ll be able to:
- listen and learn from others;
- make new, highly focused connections;
- contribute to relevant conversations, and;
- start discussions that can benefit you and others.
As with any networking opportunity online or off, it’s best to earn your place within conversations in any group. Just as you wouldn’t walk into an in-person networking event and immediately dole out business cards without proper introductions first, you shouldn’t jump into a group and start posting without first getting a feel for who’s there and what’s being shared.
LinkedIn: Advanced Tactics
LinkedIn is consistently updating its capabilities and features. Stay apprised of what’s new and take advantage of the options to enhance your use of the network.
- Video: Video on social is all the rage, and LinkedIn is no exception. Consider making use of the platform’s Live Video functionality, or post recorded video directly to the site if that’s an easier option for you. Direct posting of video can be more beneficial than sharing a YouTube link, as the LinkedIn algorithm favors native content by making it appear more frequently in newsfeeds.
- Reactions: LinkedIn is rolling out post “reactions” to make our responses to other people’s content more meaningful. Much like the reactions Facebook introduced more than three years ago, LinkedIn reactions allow for specific responses to content with just a click. With reactions capabilities, you will be able to “like,” “celebrate”, or “love” posts, as well as acknowledge content as “insightful” or express that you’re “curious” about what was shared.
- Original post content: While it’s super-simple to share other people’s LinkedIn content as a way of posting regularly, there can be even greater benefits in creating and posting your own original content. If you’re strapped for ideas and time, commit to posting something original at least once each week. It can be as easy as sharing a link from your website or uploading a photo from a past event or conference with a simple caption.
- Articles: You can publish articles to LinkedIn. While I prefer to use owned web properties for the sharing of deeper content, there are certainly benefits for repurposing or modifying your content to create articles published to the LinkedIn platform. Give this a try once a month to gauge its usefulness and viability in supporting your business goals.
With your personal profile as the foundation, you’re poised to make the most of LinkedIn for your business. And to think all this comes before the discussion about how to make the most of LinkedIn Business Pages! That will be a separate topic for another time. Keep reading my column for even more practical, tactical LinkedIn insights. Until then, let’s connect on LinkedIn! You can find me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/irenewriter/.