It’s one thing to hang a shingle and another to build a house. The same applies to using LinkedIn. Many of us fill out a profile and then stop there. The assumption — if you build it, they will come. But is that really the case?
LinkedIn has become a replacement for the resume. A few simple steps can make a big difference in how you communicate your professional background and goals.
SET STRATEGIC GOALS
When creating your profile, start with strategic goals in mind. Are you looking to develop new clients? Are you building your brand? Searching for a job? Looking for key people in a particular industry? Your goals should be the driving force behind how you fill in your profile.
Take the line directly under your name. It’s usually where you list your current job. This space is editable. Edit it to convey what you bring to the market. I’ve seen people put “Looking for a job” in this slot. Use the space to your advantage and have a creative phrase about your skillsets. Make people want to learn more.
Most people want to see what you look like. Admit it — you want to see what they look like too.
Make sure you have a photograph that conveys a professional image. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen shots with a family pet or someone showing off a new car. Do you want to work with a cat or a car? It’s called a headshot for a reason. Leave the full body reveal for the job interview and those pet, car and night out on the town shots for Facebook.
A BILLBOARD WIH UNLIMITED SPACE
Think of your profile as a billboard with unlimited space and possibilities. The best profiles link to additional content. Link to your your website, social media pages, blogs, published articles, videos, etc. But, at the same time, a cluttered billboard will not achieve results. Limit your links to relevant content.
You can also edit and control the skills and endorsements sections of your page. Only, list the skillsets that you want those reviewing your profile to know. For endorsements, once you reach 99+ for a given skill, consider moving it to the bottom of the list so you can move up other skills and help get more endorsements for them.
CONNECT, CONNECT, CONNECT
If you’re just starting out, you can import all of the contacts from your email accounts and have LinkedIn invites sent to them. From there, keep building. When you meet people at networking events, connect with them as soon as you can, but do not connect with everyone. Connecting to everyone will make it difficult to manage your connection list. Only connect with those you think will be legitimate connections and or connectors for you. If you ever need to remove a connection, go to the person’s profile, click on the send a message box, click the down arrow to the right, and click the last option to “remove connection.”
You can also use LinkedIn to run searches for companies and industries you want to reach. By clicking on a company’s profile, you can see all the employees there with LinkedIn accounts. If you share connections with the employees, reach out and ask your connection to make an introduction.
Join groups that relate to your industry and will help you achieve your goals. As you interact with members of the group and comment on posts, you’ll gain recognition, credibility and become a thought leader in your area of expertise.
Now for your homework: How about challenging yourself to spend 15 minutes on LinkedIn three times a week? We just may connect there…
Allan Hirsh is an Executive Coach at Allan Hirsh Advisors and the host of AHA Business Radio on CBS Sports Radio 1300AM Tuesdays at 6-7 pm. Visit ahabusinessradio.com to pod cast the shows.