This is an edited post from June 2012
Sometimes just that can cause people to groan. Especially ones who don’t have a good handle on WHAT LinkedIn is anyway. LinkedIn, for the uninitiated, is one of the best B2B social networks out there. It allows business people to connect with colleagues, past colleagues, classmates, clients, family and friends, all in a professional setting. There are 161 million users on LinkedIn and there is no reason for you not to have a profile. If you’re like me and have a Twitter account, Facebook personal and business page, a blog, Instagram, and Pintrest accounts to manage, adding LinkedIn can feel overwhelming. But this is important, you MUST have a LinkedIn account.
Because it’s strictly B2B, other business people search LinkedIn for people to connect. They look in discussion groups, answer groups, job categories, high school and university sections and they are also looking for people to provide a service. The more connections you have and the more active you are, the higher you show in search lists.
Below are some tips that will help you along with using your LinkedIn profile.
Share lots of relevant content and keep it fresh. Your profile says a lot about you. When you are creating your profile, fill in as much information as you possibly can. Be specific on how you can help people with your services. If you are looking for work, share content on your profile about your work ethic, how you can help a potential employer, or any personality test results that are relevant. Keep changing content in your summary as you grow as a professional. Also, it’s important to note that LinkedIn is highly searchable by Google. So the more keywords about what you do or what you are looking for the better.
Have a professional head shot. Mine personally isn’t the best. It’s pretty borderline. The last thing you want on a professional networking space is a pic of your dog or a company logo. You wouldn’t put a picture of your children on your business card or marketing materials and it wouldn’t be appropriate here. You are more likely to be found and have your profile looked at if you have a profile pic.
Keep your skills and work history up to date. This is especially true for people searching for jobs. When doing a resume, you generally only want to put the last 10 years of work history there. However, on LinkedIn, be as detailed as you possibly can. Go back as far as you can remember details on what you did. Do this for a couple reasons; one to show your level of work history and two, to be able to connect with past colleagues. It is easier to connect with past co-workers if you have listed the company in your profile than trying to remember what their email was.
Join and be active in discussion groups and answer groups. This might seem like a little overkill (because who has all this time), but being active in discussion groups proves that you know your stuff. You’ll be seen as an expert in your field and there is plenty of potential to make more connections down the road based on your involvement in those groups. Also, search through and answer some questions in the “answer” section on LinkedIn for the same reason.
Don’t lock your profile or hide everything. There are some companies that require this as part of their social media management and I get that. Sometimes the company they work for deals with sensitive information and they need to keep a low profile. However, if you can, be as open and honest and vulnerable as you can in order to gain connections.
Connect with just about everyone. There is a school of thought that you should only connect with those people that you know. And I would agree for more personal social media accounts like Facebook. However, LinkedIn is about connecting with business people, and just as you wouldn’t avoid talking to strangers in a business networking event, you should avoid that here as well. You never know who you might connect with that could give you an “in” with a contact for more business or a new colleague or employer.
And while you’re connecting, DON’T just send out the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network” message. Add something to it. Make it personalized. Tell them why you would like to connect with them.
Those are just a few nuggets of wisdom on LinkedIn for now. Feel free to look up Lewis Howes to get some more info. Lewis is a fantastic resource on LinkedIn.