Are you on LinkedIn but not sure what to do with it? Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of getting onto LinkedIn? Do you know you could be doing more with it, but you feel like you don’t have the time? Here are ten simple things you can do to improve your use of LinkedIn:
1) Get A Picture (or get a better one): I’m frequently astounded at the pictures that people use for their LinkedIn profiles. Many of them are blurry, dark, unflattering or cluttered. Your profile picture should look like you, only better. Take the time to get a professional head shot taken. Don’t have the time or money? Get a friend who has a good digital camera and likes to take pictures. Get dressed nicely. Ladies, put on make up. Wear a solid color that contrasts with your skin color (nothing too bright please). Outside lighting is more flattering, so go to a park and have your friend take a bunch of photos of you. Choose the one that you like the most. Upload to LinkedIn. Not sure how to do that? Ask a teenager for help.
2) Add Groups: You are allowed to belong to 50 groups on LinkedIn. The benefit of groups is that you can directly email anyone with whom you share a group. So, it increases your network exponentially. Choose some groups in the field in which you’re looking for work or a new field that you’d like to enter. If you belong to some professional associations, make sure to join their LinkedIn group. Not sure how to find appropriate groups? On the top of your profile where it says “People – Search”, click on the down arrow you’ll see a list of things for which you can search. Select “Groups” off the list. Then type some key words into the search box and click the little magnifying glass. You will see a list of groups that you might be interested in joining. Join some. Don’t want to get lots of email from your groups? You can set your email settings to weekly summaries when you join.
3) Proofread your profile: I frequently notice typos on people’s profiles. This is your public presence, so PLEASE read your profile carefully and correct those typos! Make sure your grammar and spelling are correct. Don’t use person pronouns – it should read more like a resume than a casual email to your friends.
4) Invite more people to join your network: Try inviting at least one person to your LinkedIn network every day. If you do that, you’ll have 365 people in your network in a year. Be sure to invite people you know who are on LinkedIn. Please don’t send the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network” invite. Take a minute to personalize the invitation. If you haven’t seen them in awhile, give them a quick update. Then say, “I’d like to keep in touch by adding you to my network on LinkedIn, if you’re willing!” Not sure who to invite? Start with the list that says “people you may know” (to find it click on “Home” at the top of your profile page). There will be a list of people with whom you share connections or groups.
5) Add Skills: There is new feature on LinkedIn that allows you to add skills. These are words and phrases that are pre-defined by LinkedIn. To find it, look under the “More” tab on the top of the page. Select “skills” off the list. Now, try typing a word or phrase into the search box. If the skill you typed in is already on the list, it will appear along with a description of that skill. Even better, a list of related skills will appear on the left hand side. If it’s an accurate description of your skill, just select “Add skill” and it will be added to the Skills section of your profile.
6) Ask for some recommendations: It helps to have recommendations for at least the most recent jobs you’ve listed on LinkedIn. If you’re not comfortable asking your old boss to write you a recommendation, ask a colleague who knows your work or a client who can speak about the experience they had with you. Most people are willing to do this for you if they had a good experience with you and know you well enough to comment on the quality of your work.
7) Write a recommendation for someone else: Everyone likes a pat on the back. Writing a recommendation for someone else will make them feel good (and will lift your spirits as well!). Try doing this once a week and see what happens. Give the recommendation without expecting to receive one back (and don’t feel insulted if they don’t recommend you as well). It’s almost better to have recommendations from people who don’t recommend you back because it looks too much like a “quid pro quo” when you recommend everyone that has recommended you.
8) Beef Up Your Summary Section: The summary section of your profile should include key information about what you can do for employers. What sets you apart from other candidates? Don’t say, looking for challenging position in…focus on what’s in it for the employer. What special skills or knowledge do you possess that will benefit potential employers? A bulleted list of your special areas of expertise is helpful for people scanning your profile.
9) Ask or answer a question or post information: Now that you’re a member of some groups (see item #2 ), you can post an question for discussion, share some information or comment on someone else’s post. If you do this once or twice a week, it will raise your visibility. If you post a question, make sure there are no typos or misspelled words. Also, keep the question upbeat and on point.
10) Add a book list: If you like to read and enjoy sharing what you’re reading with others, add the reading list feature to your profile. To do that, click on “More” at the top of the page and select “Get more applications”. You will see a list of features you can add to your profile. Select the “reading list” feature and you can add a list of books you’re reading and write a short comment. There are many other applications you can add, including Box.net that lets you upload files to your profile and Huddle that gives you a place to share documents that can be edited by others.
Do a few of the things on this list every week and you’ll find that LinkedIn will become a more valuable tool for you whether or not you’re in job search mode.