The only easy part of LinkedIn is the fact that there’s a pretty formulaic way to lay down your foundation. You’ll have to start with a fair bit of groundwork, but if you maintain it properly afterwards, then just a few minutes a day is all you’ll need to grow your network.
First, complete your profile. Add your name, title, a specific description of what you do, previous employment information (provide 3-8 bullets and be as detailed as possible) and education, any organizations you belong to, awards and certifications you’ve won, recommendations from current and previous team members (these are VERY VERY important), and a professional photo.
Now that you know what to do – let me tell you the “why you need to do it” as this will help turn the lens into focus. When people (recruiters, business owners, hiring managers, etc.) are searching LinkedIn, they are using keywords, location, job title, company, and a few other fields to narrow their search from 396 million users to a list of 50 or less.
This means that if you don’t give content rich information in your profile then you are being passed, up looked over, or simply never found. Not because you’re not of interest to the person who’s searching for you – on the contrary, if you have what they want, they are dying to connect with you. (Remember there’s a talent war going on out there and companies are fighting tooth and nail to find the right people that have the skills they need and that are a cultural fit for their team.) So it’s up to you to give details of what you’re working on, what you’ve achieved, and the impact you make in your work. This may feel like bragging, but it’s not. Sharing this information is why LinkedIn exists! And sharing this information will set you up for success.
The point, is you want to give them as much meat as you can because you’re not sure what keywords they will be searching and want to make sure you cover all of your bases with everything that you excel at.
In a nutshell, here’s what you need to have up-to-date on your LinkedIn profile:
Do not skip any of these steps. An incomplete profile is a lost opportunity. It’s that simple.
Once your profile is fleshed out and gives a robust picture of your experience and expertise, then it’s time to start building your network and tending to it as though it were a garden.
The basic formula: build and grow. Now let’s dive into the importance of establishing an online presence.
LinkedIn isn’t just about building your profile and adding connections, it’s also a really great place to have a professional presence online (great news for those who don’t have a website). You can post things on LinkedIn, you can share things, and you can even publish your own writing. What you do is up to you, but you’ll definitely want to maintain some presence.
Think about it this way: maintaining a presence on LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to share your expertise and passion with the world. You can easily position yourself as a thought leader or someone with knowledge to share by publishing your thoughts on your industry, tips or advice for those working in your industry (or trying to), or your predictions for the future of your industry, all on LinkedIn Pulse. Make sure you edit carefully before publishing and you’re good to go.
If you’re not interested in writing or don’t have the strongest writing skills, you can find content about your industry and share it on LinkedIn. By sharing information that’s relevant and useful to potential colleagues, you’re adding value to your community while showing that you go above and beyond to stay on top of your work and your industry. Imagine if you were interviewing an employee: wouldn’t you be more likely to hire the person who’s in the know and seems to actually enjoy talking about the work?
If you’re not sure how to find and curate content, there’s a simple way to do it: find blogs and news outlets that write about your industry or desired industry. Then add them to an aggregator like Feedly to stay on top of new content without having it clutter your inbox. Dedicate fifteen minutes every morning or afternoon to perusing Feedly. If you find something worth sharing (read: valuable or interesting to people like you), then share it on LinkedIn.
Note: Just like you shouldn’t connect simply to connect, don’t share information just to share – make sure you’re only sharing information that’s useful and relevant. (If you’re not finding much of that, change the sites you’re following or simply post less often. It’s okay to share just a couple of posts per month.) Most importantly, add context. It can be as simple as one line, but add context as to why people would care about the information you’re sharing.
People will appreciate the information you’re sharing and want to see more of it. (It doesn’t have to be your writing to be valuable!) Then, when a recruiter or potential new employer looks at your profile, they’ll see that you have a presence. They’ll see your following, knowledge, and the effort you’re putting in to improve your industry.
Everything we talked to up to this point is all you need to do to build a solid profile on LinkedIn. However, there is another thing you can do to take your LinkedIn game to the next level: sign up for their premium service.
Signing up for the premium service won’t shortcut your LinkedIn growth and it won’t guarantee any results. No matter what you do, you have to follow the steps above. What LinkedIn premium does for you, however, is give you access to people and information that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Here’s a brief listing of some features that you can get through premium:
These features enable you to expand your research and access to making new connections. It might not be necessary if you’re focused on building your profile and presence, but could be very useful if you’re deep in job-search mode.