EDITOR’S INTRO: In recent weeks, LOTS of readers have been asking for advice about LinkedIn. To be frank, it’s not a social network I’ve ever understood particularly well! I therefore decided to commission a LinkedIn Profile Tips article from a true expert in this area. I hope you find it helpful 🙂
I’ve been in the recruitment industry for twenty years. I started out in the days of faxed CVs, saw the advent of email, the growth of job boards, and – finally – the emergence of the business networking behemoth that is LinkedIn.
Many of these technological advances were supposed to sound the death knell for the recruitment industry. Yes, they have changed things, but recruiters still exist, and LinkedIn is our best friend.
So, as a professional, how do you get the most out of LinkedIn? Here are my top LinkedIn profile tips.
Remember that LinkedIn is BUSINESS Networking, NOT Social Networking
Note the difference. This is the most important LinkedIn profile tip:
Do not use LinkedIn like you’d use social networking sites.
This is a business tool. Users of LinkedIn want to see business content, not videos of cats, random memes, or other inane content. The amount of non-business-related material has increased and it’s the bugbear of many LinkedIn users.
My LinkedIn wall shows me what my network has liked or commented on. If someone in my network posts a non-business article, I hide them. If they even like someone else’s non-business post, I hide them. What does that mean? It means I don’t see any of their posts – ever. Why do I do that? Because all these non-business posts clog up my feed and I haven’t got time for it.
Like most LinkedIn users, I only want to see business articles, discussions and content. So, if you usually like inane posts and then suddenly write a ground-breaking and original business article, I’m not going to see it. You will already have lost your audience. Keep it business related, and keep it relevant.
Don’t Brag – Unless it’s Very Subtle
The social media world has changed beyond all recognition with the advent of Instagram. The “selfie” culture is one thing, but the showy, “look what I own / have achieved / have earned / what car I drive” posts are really crass, and do NOT make you look good.
In the last two years I have seen a lot more posts about how “five years ago I was a penniless graduate with no prospects, and now through my own hard work have achieved x, y and z,” followed by some comment like “follow your dreams “or “believe in yourself.”
This stuff is self-congratulatory and distasteful. Keep that type of thing for Instagram where your “followers” might actually be interested. In a professional context, this doesn’t come across well and doesn’t make you look like a winner.
That said, DO post things such as awards and recognition from your industry. Phrases like “I was proud to be awarded” or “honoured to be recognised for…” sound so much better, and elevate you in a more professional way. Keep it classy.
Use the Right Kind of Profile Picture
One of my simplest but most important LinkedIn profile tips concerns your picture. It should be you – just you and not you with a group of others. It should be you, dressed professionally and in a business context. It should be of your head and shoulders only.
If your current picture is of you riding your motorcycle, on your Sunday 80-mile bike ride, holding a fish, on a night out, or wearing an outfit better suited to a club in Ibiza, then you probably want to change it.
Treat LinkedIn Like a Shop Window
I look at the LinkedIn profile of everyone I come into contact with professionally. Why? Because it says a lot about how the see themselves.
LinkedIn is a shop window. How do you present yourself? How do you describe yourself and your role? Where did you come from? How did you get to where you are? What do your peers say about you?
You wouldn’t buy a product without doing some online research, and in the same context you wouldn’t hire someone without doing the same. Even outside a recruitment context, you would probably research someone you wanted to do business with. So, what does that mean for you?
Firstly, keep your profile up to date. It’s important that people can see who you are, where you work, and your role. It’s also important to be clear about your business or employer and what they do (don’t assume everyone has heard of them.) Be clear about your job, what it means and the context. You can even mention some achievements and successes, taking on board what I have written above!
You may not be in the job market, but your clients, competitors and business contacts may well look you up. This is your chance to project your professional image in your own words.
Remember that LinkedIn is All About the Network
On some social media sites, you likely vet who you connect to and only want close friends and known contacts on your list; On others, maybe you want as many followers as possible.
When making connections on LinkedIn I suggest asking yourself why would you NOT connect? Consider every connection request as a positive thing. Is this connection a risk? Are they completely irrelevant? If not, then say yes. You never know when that person could be useful to you. And it might just be that THEIR connections are useful to you. I have 10,000 plus “tier one” connections, but that gives me access to many thousands more “tier two” connections, i.e. the connections of MY connections. That’s how the network works. The more connected you are, the more useful your network is to you.
And why is the network useful? The more you connect, the more you see and are seen. That could mean job offers, more visibility of useful posts and articles, or an ability to seek peer advice and join professional industry groups. You have to reach out and build a community to make the most of LinkedIn.
Personalise your Approaches
When you send a connection request, always add a note saying “hello,” and state why you would like to connect, even if it’s just to say that you hope you will have mutually beneficial connections. It’s so much nicer and more memorable to receive approaches like these.
The last of my LinkedIn profile tips is to remember reciprocity.
The dictionary defines reciprocity as “a mutual exchange of commercial or other privileges”. As a tool, LinkedIn works best when we share. Share knowledge, contacts, networks and information. It is an extraordinarily powerful tool when we all approach it with an open, friendly and ‘sharing’ mindset. That means doing things without thought of personal gain.
Take time to recommend a colleague, or to suggest an interesting article to your contacts. Don’t look for the immediate personal gain but do something just because it’s the right thing to do. You never know when, in turn, someone else’s actions will benefit you!
- For help uncovering remote jobs online, check out this article.
- Take a look at JobScan if you plan to update your Linkedin profile.
- Check out this new article for 50 ways to find new clients.
Michael Younger has been an executive recruiter for 20 years. He runs his own UK-based search and head-hunting business, which focuses on executive leadership appointments in the healthcare industry. He has worked for international search firms Korn Ferry and Penna, and recruited for organisations from global pharmaceuticals to the UK National Health Service.