You are probably reading this blog because of one of the following reasons: you have a LinkedIn account but you are not fully confident on its content or presentation, you want to read about what others think about this social media platform, or you have no idea what LinkedIn is and you don’t know where to start.
No matter which reason it is, if any, I’m dedicating this post to explain how to use LinkedIn and what you should avoid doing with it.
A) LinkedIn is not the same as Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn is a platform to connect with people at a PROFESSIONAL LEVEL. Facebook is for your friends, Twitter may be for friends or pros, or both but you keep LinkedIn professional.
B) When I brought the topic of LinkedIn to my team at Riverfront PR, I told them the following: LinkedIn is a virtual scan, if not more detailed version, of your resume. Whatever you would include in your resume should be on LinkedIn and viceversa.
C) Why use it? LinkedIn is increasingly becoming a source of information for recruiters and companies. An employer just needs to type key words and your profile may show up. I have made AMAZINGLY useful connections through this platform.
Now that these main points are cleared out, I’ll start with the tips:
Don’t connect with people you don’t know. When you wish to connect with someone, there’s a checkbox for you to fill out to show you know the person you are wishing to connect with. If you check the “I don’t know ____*Name of the person___ , you won’t be able to connect. If you choose other, you have to provide the person’s email. As you can see, LinkedIn doesn’t want you to connect with people you don’t know.
Also, when you message someone to connect, spend less than a minute writing a message to that person. Do NOT keep the automated message that says “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Show that you care about that person and making that connection. You can include: a brief idea of how you heard about him/her, refer to how you two met, or how you heard him/her at XX event. Make the message human and personable.It’s all about making MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS. And of course, never ask for a job or internship the moment you message that person.
2) Endorsements and recommendations:
I’ve read many articles saying endorsements lost value. And I kind of see it too. I personally don’t endorse someone’s skills (scroll down a person’s profile to the Skills section and you’ll see what I mean) just because they endorsed me. I take this platform very seriously and for professional purposes only, so endorsing for “being nice” is just invalid to me. Instead of endorsing (which is easy, you are just one click away), write a recommendation if you truly believe that person has outstanding skills. It shows more value and meaning if you write a well-thought recommendation. Don’t give an endorsement or recommendation just because someone else gave one to you.
Don’t lie. Don’t augment your profile so you look “cool” or professional , or very experienced, when in reality, you are not.
In your lead job title, if you don’t have one, don’t just put “student”. Be creative and memorable. *But don’t lie!
The summary part (first thing you have to fill in) is tricky. Some people use it to show their personality, some other write that section as if it was a cover letter. I wrote it as telling a story- how I ended up where I am now and what my passions are. Now I just read a blog post mentioning the summary as your elevator pitch. I might change my summary now. Whichever approach you use, don’t make spelling mistakes, think what you write carefully, show your essence and values, and use it as an introduction to your profile.
Many of my connections have emerged because of my participation in groups that I am interested in. Not only I subscribe to several groups and follow the posts, but I also COMMENT! I engage with other users and comment, debate, exchange ideas, inform and learn with them. Some groups are closed and you’ll have to wait for approval, but some others are open, like the PRSSA group, or IPRA, and so forth. There are groups for many different interests and industries so I highly recommend you join one and engage.
5) Content: photos, updates, links.
This is a professional network. Therefore, ONLY upload pictures, statuses, information that meets the minimum professional standards, at least. I don’t really use the updates that much, unless I run across some really good quality information that I think it best suited to share on LinkedIn, and not on Twitter. Regarding photos, use a professional-looking photo, preferably a good quality head shot taken for resumes, profiles, etc. Do not crop your head from a group picture or put a profile picture where you are not looking professional.
6) Words: avoid overuse
According to the Huffington Post, the top five most commonly used phrases on LinkedIn are: creative, organizational, effective, extensive experience, and track record. Choose key words that will set you apart and at the same time, not screen you out. Wording is key.
7) Be detailed
This falls back to writing your profile fully. Don’t just list your job or position, explain what you did, what you learned and your accomplishments. LinkedIn is a great place to include a more in-depth description of each job that you may not be able to include in your print resume otherwise.
8) Proof -read!
Typos, grammar errors, spelling mistakes and punctuation errors show you didn’t take enough time to proof-read your work. Here’s your chance to show your writing skills. Don’t mess it up with a simple spelling mistake. Having a typo on your LinkedIn profile is just as bad, if not worse, than having a typo on your resume or cover letter.
It’s hard to keep up with all the social media outlets we manage but you have to make time to update them. LinkedIn should be in that list. If you change majors, internships, jobs, include it.
10) A place to flirt- NOT.
If you create an account thinking that you will get a partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend out of it, you are completely wrong. This is not match.com so drop the idea of connecting with people for other purposes other than professional networking.
11) Unique URL
LinkedIn gives you a URL by default, one full of numbers and letters. You can make your own unique LinkedIn URL by doing the following: select “Settings” in the drop down under your name on the top right corner of your LinkedIn home page. Then choose Public Profile Settings, and scroll down to “Your Public Profile URL.” There you can customize the link. Try to get as close to your first and last name. Keep your brand name consistent across your social media platforms.
12) Don’t stalk
If you look at someone’s profile, that person can tell you checked him/her out. It’s ok to search people you’d be interested in knowing, but don’t stalk them every day, because even with the free, regular membership, they can tell you visited.
If you have a design or writing portfolio, you should include it on LinkedIn. This platform has several widgets that you can use to upload your work and put it together in a slide. Behance.net and Issuu.com are two websites I’ve ran across often and are easy to work with.
These are just a few tips for the beginners on LinkedIn. I didn’t learn this overnight, but reading blog posts and looking at how professionals use their accounts was definitely helpful.
Feel free to look at my profile to get ideas, and if you have any suggestions for improvement, please let me know! All help is welcomed!
How do you write your summary?
What things have you left out from your profile?
How has LinkedIn helped you in your career, job or internship search?