Long thought of as a place to post a resume online, LinkedIn has evolved and is changing the way we network professionally. But in order to gain more profile views and more connections and to close more deals, it’s essential to optimize your LinkedIn profile and network your way to success.
Whether you’re a consultant or entrepreneur looking to grow your business, or a professional in the midst of job hunting, don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn. Launched a little over 10 years ago, this social media platform bills itself as “the world’s largest professional network” with the purpose of connecting “the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” Within the last few years, LinkedIn has made several game-changing moves to help professionals make even more connections with more than 300 million users.
Here’s 6 key ways to use LinkedIn to network your way to success:
1. Make certain your profile is complete: It’s imperative to complete each applicable part of your profile, because, according to LinkedIn, completed profiles are 40 times more likely to gain opportunity.
Be sure your geographic location and industry are accurate. Provide correct contact information. Make sure that your headline displays your occupation or area of expertise. Upload a flattering profile photo. Write a compelling, descriptive summary that accurately depicts a general overview of your skills, experience, and expertise. Think of the summary area as a place to tell a brief story about yourself and your work.
When writing about your experience, be sure to highlight key accomplishments with each role or project you list. One effective way to do this is by including key metrics (for example: the amount of sales you helped facilitate, the dollar amount of the budget you helped manage, or the number of conversions you secured). And, if possible, customize your profile’s URL. It does wonders for people searching for you through search engines and makes you more identifiable!
2. Use keywords throughout your profile: The wonderful thing about social media channels like LinkedIn is that you have the opportunity to use certain keywords throughout your profile to make it more visible in internal LinkedIn searches. You can further optimize your profile by inserting appropriate, industry-specific keywords in your headline, your summary, and your description of experiences.
3. Add samples of or links to your work: LinkedIn makes it easy to display samples and links to work you’ve done. Anyone landing on your profile can now see pieces of your “portfolio” and grasp a better idea of your style and quality of work.
4. Obtain recommendations for your work and endorsements for your skills: One thing that differentiates LinkedIn from a simple resume: written recommendations and endorsements from others directly on your profile.
These features provide others with social proof of your work and accomplishments in your industry. Many headhunters and companies doing their due diligence on candidates use these to legitimate your work, expertise, and skills. Entrepreneurs, you’re not left out! Folks looking to do business with you pay attention to your recommendations and use those to help determine whether they want to reach out to you.
I’ve received job and consulting offers because my work was recommended and my skills were endorsed. LinkedIn makes it easy to request recommendations from your colleagues. But one key way to obtain them is to endorse and recommend others. Individuals are certainly apt to reciprocate.
5. Engage: Don’t simply complete your profile and abandon the channel. LinkedIn works best when you engage with others. There are a few easy ways to do this. One way to engage is to post status updates often.
The next way is to join groups related to your specific industry and niche and contribute something valuable to the ongoing conversations there. With more than a million groups to choose from, you’ll be surprised at how many connections you’ll make through your active involvement in just a few of these forums.
6. Use the LinkedIn Publisher tool: LinkedIn changed the content creation game when it introduced this feature earlier this year. Why? Because in the digital age, content is king and LinkedIn is just another way of promoting your content and driving traffic to a personal or company website.
LinkedIn Publisher provides ways for you to create articles allowing you to share your professional knowledge and insights throughout LinkedIn – even to those who are not directly in your network. Your Publisher content is completely searchable both in and outside of LinkedIn and also becomes apart of your professional profile.
LinkedIn Publisher is another great way to build subject matter authority and expand your reach and brand visibility, giving others compelling reasons to follow or hire you. To do this, simply select the “Create a Post” pencil icon in the status update field, and you’re ready to post long-form content!
Take advantage of LinkedIn as another way to leverage your skills and expertise and increase visibility with these actionable tips. You’ll surely see a marked difference in the way your connections engage with you and you’ll gain much more exposure, visibility, and opportunities.
Courtney Herring is the founder of The Champ Media Agency and a consulting entreproducer dedicated to helping time-starved entrepreneurs execute their content strategy to nurture inspired and engaged online communities by taking the headache out of editing, social media, and web content maintenance, allowing clients to be successful in other pursuits. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.