Since LinkedIn was launched in May 2003 – over ten(!) years ago – it has amassed over 300 million users from more than 200 countries. No longer is it a CV / resume portal for businesses to source candidates on and for individuals to showcase their talents and work experience on.
Indeed, in late 2012 LinkedIn made the decision to stop allowing users to upload their resumes. This signified a big shift that LinkedIn was undertaking as it aimed to evolve its business:
“Our mission is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.”
At Comms Axis, we love LinkedIn – it is now a fantastic publishing platform and is consistently the biggest source of traffic for our website (which has had over 600,000 views of our blog in one month!). And the potential for Social Selling – done right, of course – on this social network is huge.
Businesses, influencers and individuals alike are highly engaged on LinkedIn too – learning, sharing and networking being at the crux of what the modern day LinkedIn user does. Yet many people are still figuring out how best to go about using LinkedIn in their day-to-day activities. So we’ve put together this simple list of top tips (similar to the one we did for Twitter a month or so ago) to help you make the most of your time and build engaged connections.
1. Turn on notifications
You can boost the number of views of your profile simply by turning on notifications. Every time you update your profile (whether that is with something significant such as a new job, or even just a new profile picture) then your connections will each be notified, prompting people to check you out. (Go to Edit Profile and then make sure, in the right-hand column, that “Notify your network?” is ticked.)
2. Go public
A simple but often ignored tip is to turn on and make as much publicly visible as possible by adjusting your “Settings”. There is little point in being hidden or partially hidden – you wouldn’t stand fully or partially behind a pillar when trying to speak to people at a networking event would you?!
3. “Connections” versus “Followers”
Don’t get hung up on this – quite simply: you can’t see who is following you. Connections are those that you have literally connected with, whereas Followers are those that have decided to follow you without making the one-on-one connection (perhaps because you write insightful content and publish it on LinkedIn Pulse or in Groups and they want to learn without cluttering up their connections). The more good content you share, then the more Followers you will secure.
4. Build your community
A simple, but often under-used, tactic for growing your Connections (and Followers, for that matter) is to explicitly ask people to connect with (or follow) you. This can be done quite softly at the end of posts that you publish on LinkedIn Pulse. You should also proactively request to connect with those that you exchange or converse with in LinkedIn Groups that you’re a member of.
5. Don’t send connection requests to the universe!
In the early days of LinkedIn, people used to send connection requests to anyone and everyone in the vain hope of increasing the number of connections they had in the mistaken belief that it would “look impressive”. People are much more cautious about accepting requests from people they’ve never heard of or have no 2nd or 3rd Degree connections. This is spam and has little value to you or to those you’re requesting connections from…well, aside from the ego inside that simply wants to be seen to have as many connections as possible! Quality matters, not quantity.
6. Don’t blindly accept all connection requests
Similar to the above point, don’t just click “Accept” every single time you receive a request. Do you know the person, do they look relevant to you, can you help them and can they help you, will you engage with them, have you ever met them or spoken or emailed with them, are they connected with any of your connections…these are the questions you need to ask. Again, quality is better than quantity.
7. Who is checking you out?
In the right-hand column there is a very useful section for seeing who’s viewed your profile. See who they are and either send them a quick private message (“noticed you checked out my profile – be great to connect OR would love to know what piqued your interest!” is simple but effective) and / or connect with them if they are relevant and if you are not already connected.
8. The right-hand goldmine
In fact, this right-hand column is a potential goldmine of snapshot insights. It contains useful info, such as people to consider following and who else people viewed after looking at your profile. For example, from a business perspective they could also be looking at competitors so you should proactively reach out to those who viewed your profile as often as you can. Likewise if you’re looking for a new job, then a decision-maker or HR person from an ideal new employer could have checked you out.
9. Don’t hide your face!
Just like we advised within our Twitter top tips post, if you’re an individual then use a selfie but not something abstract or random; if you’re a brand then use your logo or company branding so it’s obvious who you are. And try to show your personality – not just the typical head-and-shoulders corporate shot. Mine is a bit of fun, so don’t be alarmed!
10. It’s all about you!
Well, not in the sense of being boastful…no-one likes that! But when it comes to your “Summary”, be sure that you get across what your key focus areas are and your expertise. Get your personality across (avoid monotone, corporate speak and jargon!) and provide some examples of work you’ve loved doing. Remember to include your “Specialities” too. And don’t forget that this is a summarised version of your working background…so make sure it is a succinct snapshot.
11. Experience counts
This does not mean that if you’ve only been working for a year or two that you will be ignored…far from it! What this means is that only putting a job title, dates, and company names will be seen as a sign that you don’t care or it wasn’t very good. Likewise a simple sentence of your time in a job will reflect poorly on you. Be sure to provide three or four paragraphs – each just one or two sentences long – outlining your role, what responsibilities you had, what you learned, and what successes you were responsible for.
12. Don’t be shy!
Recommendations validate your work and expertise, so ask specific connections to recommend you. Be sure to give a reason as to why – perhaps you have just successfully completed an assignment for someone or would like help from your close network to find a new job. Likewise, you must give recommendations as soon as you can after being asked. Not just because it is polite, but because you will appear on that person’s profile along with your recommendation and therefore increase the chances of people you don’t know clicking through to your profile.
13. Manage your recommendations
Think about the order that your recommendations appear via the “Manage” tab in the top right of the “Recommendations” section. Put the most relevant ones that position you in the best light at the top.
14. Endorsements – what’s the point?
Well, the jury is out on these…many LinkedIn users cannot stand receiving them and see them as a token gesture from someone who cannot be bothered to write a full recommendation. The cynics amongst us will realise that they are also being given to solicit endorsements in return and / or to drive profile views. They’re ok as an indication of someone’s skills, but don’t believe that giving or receiving them will have a huge direct impact on your status!
15. Join and participate in Groups
LinkedIn Groups are a great way of sparking debate, sharing views, engaging with like-minded people, and making new connections. There are so many Groups, however, that you need to be careful how many you join. Join ones relevant to your interests and relevant to your business / profession. And once a member (some are vetted so be patient for your membership to be approved) you must try to join in by sharing content and views, by asking questions, and by commenting on the various discussions. Try to do this every other day if you can.
16. Always reply and thank
When people share your content, comment on a Group discussion you started, or comment on a post you’ve published, always respond if not to at least thank them. In Groups, for example, the more you engage, comment and reply, then the higher your ranking in that Group will be. But bear in mind that the ranking is current, so don’t be surprised if you slip down to “Getting Started” if you don’t contribute to any discussions for a week or so!
17. Group overload
By the same token, it is advisable to review all of the Groups you are a member of on a regular basis. Leave Groups that have become irrelevant to you or that you never visit or participate in, and simply focus on the ones that matter. Once more: quality is better than quantity.
18. The value of a hyperlink
Be sure to link to your website or blog in your profile space, or a landing page that you’re trying to promote. And not just in the “Additional Info” section, but include the URL in full within your Summary (it won’t automatically hyperlink, so make it easy for the viewers to copy and paste). You will be surprised at the number of people who love to have a nosey!
19. Advice for contacting you
If you don’t make it easy for people to contact you, then don’t expect them too! Include your preferred means of being contacted – telephone, email, or a social network (e.g. Twitter) – and how / when to do so. Likewise, make sure that your “Contact Info” is correct and up-to-date.
20. Are you an All-Star?!
Be sure to keep checking your “Profile Strength” in the right-hand column. The goal is to be rated an “All-Star”, but don’t worry if you’re not. Complete aspects of your profile every couple of days and not all in one go – this way, people will be notified each time you make an update or complete a section of your profile, which again prompts more views of your profile. Becoming an “All-Star” is easy enough – it’s just a case of completing your profile.
21. LinkedIn Connected
The new Connected app was launched back in July 2014 and was heralded by LinkedIn as “providing genuine opportunities to strengthen your relationships”. The theory is good: each day it will provide reasons to reach out to people in your network – whether it is birthdays, work anniversaries, change of jobs and so on – and to also help you do several of these actions in a few minutes with just swipes or taps. It makes networking super-fast and super-easy. But be warned: it seems to have spawned lots of “me too” engagement with everyone sending the same “Happy Birthday” or “Congrats” pre-written messages. Definitely download it (I use it every day!), but be sure to take a bit more time with the suggestions and edit the message – be unique and show you care; don’t be lazy and samey!
This is a healthy list, but certainly not exhaustive when it comes to LinkedIn tips and best practice. LinkedIn Pulse has only been briefly mentioned in here, while Business Pages haven’t been talked about at all! But hopefully there will be some ideas in here to help you improve your LinkedIn activities and boost the value you get from this fantastic social network. If you have advice for people using LinkedIn, then do please let us know by leaving a comment!
Dan Purvis is passionate about the philosophy behind Comms Axis: we bring content, marketing and sales together to connect businesses with their audiences.
We pride ourselves on delivering tangible business value and ROI alongside excellent customer service. We work with a broad range of clients and industries, from B2B to B2C, from technology to cosmetics, from start-ups / SoHos to pan-European and global brands.
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