Let’s play a word association game. If I say the phrase social media, which words do you immediately think of? Do Facebook and Instagram bubble up to the forefront of your mind? What about Twitter, Snapchat, even Vine?
One social media brand that tends to get lost in the recesses of our brains is LinkedIn, a surprisingly dominant player (and one of the oldest) in the social world. Launched in 2003, the professional network has gathered up an impressive 400 million users, now surpassing Twitter’s 320 million. An increasingly popular tool for professionals of all levels and industry, LinkedIn centers around business networking, content sharing and employee recruiting. If used to its potential, it can be quite the powerful marketing tool.
Before we get going on mastering LinkedIn, we’d like to make an important distinction. There are a handful of useful features available to both individual users, as well as businesses on the platform. In this first post of our blog series, we’ll focus on the individual user.
So, without further ado, here are the best tips to utilize when building a LinkedIn presence:
Add Photos to Personalize Your Profile
We’ve all been told to personalize our resumes when applying for a job, right? Well, the same goes for LinkedIn. To stand out from other candidates and create a well-rounded profile, it’s important to add a little bit of you to the black and white text. Upload a profile photo (please keep it professional; Facebook selfies should stay on Facebook), and while you’re at it, add a background photo to your profile. To do so, click Profile > Edit Profile on the top navigation bar, and then select Add a background photo. Or, if you have already uploaded a photo and wish to change it, move your mouse directly over the image and click Edit Background. It should look something like this:
Another great place to add images is under the Experience section of your profile. Here, you actually have the choice of uploading various forms of media to each job position, including photos, videos, documents, and PowerPoint files. LinkedIn is giving you creative license here, so tailor this to your own style and to the skills you want to highlight. For example, I like to embellish my own profile with images, because I want to display my interest in photography.
Notice in the screen shot above that I also linked DARCI Creative‘s company page directly to the job title that matches it. That turquoise square in the upper right hand corner of the image? If you were to hover your mouse above it, you would see that it’s actually a link to the DARCI Creative company LinkedIn page. This is a great feature for employees whose company has an existing business page on the network.
Customize Your Profile’s URL
Look back to the first photo at the gray bar beneath my profile picture. This is my LinkedIn URL, and it has already been customized. When creating a new profile on LinkedIn, users are assigned a URL, usually made up of a sequence of numbers that have no meaning. The purpose of customizing this link is twofold: it makes sharing your profile link that much easier, and it improves SEO, thereby allowing other online users to find you more easily through search engines. But how to do it? Select Edit Profile, move your cursor over the current URL, and click on the Settings icon that appears next to it. You’re now free to create a clean, professional URL for others to find you.
Share an Update or Publish a Post to Show Off Your Expertise
Unlike Facebook or Instagram, in which photos are the main source of shareable content, a typical LinkedIn feed is dominated by written content. This is a great place to share information relevant to your industry, or simply to start a conversation with your connections.
You can share written content in one of two ways. The first is by sharing an update, which can take the form of an external article, blog post, or other link. Updates have a 600 character limit, giving you plenty of space to write. Additionally, you can toggle through the drop down menu (shown in the image above) to choose who will be able to see each update.
The second way you can share written content is by publishing a post – creating your own LinkedIn blog post, in a sense. Sharing posts shows off your expertise and builds credibility. To write one, click Publish a post, and you’ll be taken to a template like this one:
Endorse and Get Endorsed
A few years ago, LinkedIn added their now-popular endorsement feature, which allows users to back their connections by endorsing their skills, listed in the Skills section of their profile. Lets take a look at our leader Darci’s skills (of which there are many!):
True, you can’t force anyone to endorse you on a particular skill set. But many users do, since it’s quite easy (you simply click on the + sign next to each listed skill). And once you click that button, your own miniature profile picture appears on that person’s profile, making you even more easily found by others on the network. A win-win, right?
Find Jobs That Match Your Criteria
LinkedIn is a fantastic platform in which to network and share ideas, which often boils down to one primary goal: finding a job. No shame; LinkedIn has many features to help your search (did you know you can easily convert your profile into a resume?), including the Job Search tool.
To browse job postings, click on Jobs in the top navigation bar (see above). From here, you can search by geographic location, job seniority, company size and industry. Plus, you can save jobs to look at later and create a job alert to be notified of new positions that match your criteria. Don’t underestimate this tool; LinkedIn is the top social network for recruitment. In fact, 94 percent of recruiters use it to source candidates, according to a 2014 Jobvite study.
So, how does your own profile compare? Now that you have a few tips to get started, it’s time to round out that profile and start using LinkedIn to its potential! And if you’re interested in how businesses can master LinkedIn, stayed tuned for the next blog post in our series… coming soon!
Found the above post helpful? Have a few marketing questions of your own? We’re just a phone call or email away, and we love to talk marketing. Let’s chat!