It’s a common misconception that LinkedIn - the professional network that recently passed over 200 million members globally - is a portal useful only when looking for a new job. However, the network has many other features that help professionals share industry knowledge, connect with their peers and secure business leads and partners.
Here are some tips from LinkedIn on how to make the best use of the network:
Fill up your profile completely
The most important and equally rewarding action you must do is fill up your LinkedIn profile with as much detail as possible. Don’t just stop at your title and company’s name but instead explain your role and key responsibilities, industries and verticals you have worked with, milestones you have surpassed, awards you have won, qualification and education information and more. The more detail in your profile, the higher you will show up in searches on both LinkedIn and Google. However be careful not to include company sensitive information on your profile.
Have a suitable professional headline
After your name, it’s your professional headline on LinkedIn which is seen the most by people. By default, LinkedIn creates your professional headline as ‘Title at Company’. Change that to be a little more descriptive. It could be ‘ACCA qualified it accountant with 8 years of experience’ or ‘Marketer with interest in digital and new media’.
Your professional summary
Think of the summary section as your 30-second pitch; it should succinctly highlight your career till date. Mention your current position, experience and achievements so far, key strengths and possibly a career plan. This should be enough information for someone to quickly understand you as a professional.
Connections, connections, connections.
Connect with (almost) everyone. Add everyone from your company, add everyone you sell to and add everyone you buy from, add all your friends from school and from university, add even your family; the reason behind is that you must look to build your LinkedIn network in the same manner as your offline network of friends and colleagues. The more open you are to connecting, the greater number of ‘2nd degree’ connections you have access to which may open various doors for you in the future. You never know when that friend of a working colleague who you met once will end up being just the customer, supplier or partner you needed.
Skills, endorsements and recommendations
LinkedIn has recently introduced a feature that will let you list your core set of skills on your profile. These appear under a separate section on your profile and your connections can then ‘endorse’ you for any or many of them. Endorsements help you build credibility for your skills.
Our learning doesn’t stop at university; through your professional career you are likely sign up and complete courses that help you build on your skillset. LinkedIn’s Certifications section lets you list all the qualifications you’ve completed apart from your formal education.
Make recommendations: Pay it forward
Apart from Endorsements, LinkedIn also lets professionals ‘Recommend’ each other. Unlike endorsements which are for skills in particular, Recommendations are for a specific position you may have or are currently holding at a company. Recommendations also let professionals type out a personalized message explaining how the receiver may have added value.
LinkedIn also lets users create groups around a certain topic. There are many groups for just about every profession on industry featuring discussions on various facets on them. As a matter of fact, there are groups that are focused on specific regions as well. So for example if you’re a Finance professional based in the UAE, there will be a group for that, or at least one for the Middle East. Join one of these groups and participate in the discussions that are featured; these groups are an excellent source for professional insights from your peers in the same industry. You may ask questions, provide answers or maybe just build upon your network by connecting with more people.
LinkedIn Today is an aggregated and personalized newsfeed presented to you on your home page. By using a combination of content submitted by your connections and your current industry, LinkedIn Today delivers news items and articles that will be most relevant to you. The content is from top news and business sites.
With a LinkedIn application now available on phones and tablets, you can now be connected have access to your network on the go. If you meet someone new, it becomes easy to quickly look them up on LinkedIn for key information and add them to your network. The application syncs with your phone or tablet calendar and displays information from the LinkedIn profile of the attendees of a particular meeting, to give you a quick snapshot of the participants.
The writer is a digital marketing professional and an early adopter of all things digital.
Professional networking doesn’t have to be only on LinkedIn. Twitter and Facebook can also be a great way to connect with people and expand your network. Here’s three tips for both the networks:
- Write what you do in your bio. It doesn’t have to be the only thing, but a short mention will give users context and reason to follow you back
- Find and follow everyone who you’re already working with.
- Keep your tweets to be a healthy mix between personal and professional. Skew the content in the direction of your primary objective of using twitter – a good rule of thumb would be a 70/30 split but see what works best for you.
- Traditionally Facebook is seen as a personal network and people are can be paranoid about privacy. Instead of locking everything down, get smart about your privacy settings and display selected information about you. Think of the things you would be okay with your business associates knowing about you – your education level, your hobbies and interests etc and display them under your profile.
- Once you’re comfortable with this, you can start befriending selected people from your professional network on Facebook. Create a separate list for them and give them visibility to selected posts and pictures only. After all, people don’t do business with companies, people do business with people.
- Lastly, a lot of your partner and competitive companies may be present on Facebook. In addition to that many of the trade publications or website have Facebook pages too where they post news items and update. You can add these to an ‘Interest List’ which will then become a newsfeed designed by you just to stay abreast of your industry.