After being acquired by Microsoft in 2016, LinkedIn has gone through monumental changes, including the robust integration of Microsoft’s suite of services, including Office 365, an expanded publishing platform, and streamlined desktop and mobile apps. Critics had a lot to say, noting that Microsoft’s acquisition was the inevitable demise of LinkedIn. Over the past several months, however, media and marketing outlets have been noting that LinkedIn has truly improved, including AdWeek in this article.
But while the functionality of LinkedIn has changed, how to make LinkedIn work for you has not.
Here are the top 5 ways to make LinkedIn work for you.
Know your purpose
Some professionals use LinkedIn as an evergreen networking or prospecting outlet while others are looking for employment or a new career path. But no matter why you’re using LinkedIn, be consistent or it won’t work for you. If your purpose is networking and prospecting, make time each day to check in and communicate with community members, ensure your profile is fully fleshed out and represents you, engage in groups, etc. If your purpose is career-driven, make sure your profile highlights your professional career experience and strengths and that you’re actively connecting with and cultivating relationships with hiring managers and recruiters.
Having a profile is only part of the battle – putting effort into it is the only way to get the full benefit.
Often, professionals put up a LinkedIn profile only to abandon it or fail to update it regularly with a recent picture and professional history. Make a recurring note to read your profile and make updates (at least) quarterly. Your professional progression is an ongoing process, and not putting forth your most recent accomplishments and experience is selling yourself short. Also, write your profile with correct spelling and grammar; there’s no bigger turn-off than poor written communication in a professional setting. In a world with spellcheck, there’s no excuse for a grammatically incorrect and spelling error-riddled profile.
Use a professional picture. I know it’s easier to crop your head out of a picture you like from a social setting, but it doesn’t put your best foot forward. Also, keep your photo updated – if you set up a meeting with someone from LinkedIn, they’re going to look for the person they see on LinkedIn. If you’ve changed a lot from your LinkedIn picture, it can seem misleading. Much like a dating site, if you’re not honest about your image, what else might you be hiding?
As professionals, we’re smart – we can smell spammers from a mile away. And there’s no faster way to annoy me than to send me spammy messages on LinkedIn. If you want to spark a real conversation, be authentic. Don’t create a template email and just change the name; tailor the messaging to the recipient by including a comment or a note from their profile. To foster a relationship, it’s best to start from scratch and not make the one-on-one communication manufactured.
At its core, LinkedIn is a professional online networking portal. What I appreciate about the networking group BNI is their mantra – Givers Gain. Basically, the more you give, the more you get. Take time when you log in to give props to the professionals you like, know, and trust. That could be sharing an article they wrote, writing a recommendation, or endorsing their skills. The more you do for others, the more motivated they’ll feel to do for you – and more than that, the more you respect and support professionals, the more their careers can grow, too.
Know who you’re connecting with
I get at least 10 LinkedIn connection requests per week, and I probably accept two. I’m selective about my connections because my connections are a reflection of me. Don’t connect with someone just because they ask – connect with people you know, trust, or want to get to know better. On LinkedIn, it’s quality over quantity with connections, so if you get a connection request without a personalized message, the person is probably more interested in growing the quantity versus the quality.
Take your LinkedIn presence seriously. Be intentional about the information you share and update your profile often. Be diligent and dedicated about logging in to your profile to engage with the community and support your trusted professionals by offering recommendations, endorsements, and communication. No matter how many connections you have, what really matters is a network of professionals you communicate with regularly.
Is there anything I missed? Anything else you think is imperative to do to ensure you have a positive experience on LinkedIn? Leave me a comment – I'd love to chat more!