Wondering whether you should be investing time and energy in LinkedIn? Consider this statement made in a February 2013 article in the Financial Post: “LinkedIn Corp., the business-oriented service for recruiters, job seekers and corporate networking, is showing investors the sort of promise from a social networking stock that many had hoped to find in rival Facebook Inc.”
And success on the profit side means that LinkedIn is doing something right and, according to this article and others, the growth is far from over.
LinkedIn is one of the most important social networks for new business owners looking to build their online reputation, brand awareness, influence and network of contacts, particularly for business-to-business companies and those whose clientele tend to be white-collar.
Tips For LinkedIn Users When Getting Started
When getting started with LinkedIn, the following six areas should be addressed first.
- Create ‘Your public profile URL’
- Use a Professional Photo
- Customize the Professional Headline that shows below your name
- Add three ‘websites’ and Twitter to your profile
- Write a Background overview/summary role that is interesting, informative, concise and typo-free
- Become familiar with ‘Privacy & Settings’
For more on each of the above check out ‘5 LinkedIn Profile Areas Users Shouldn’t Ignore‘.
But don’t stop there! Now that you’ve got the bare bones of your profile set up, here a few other areas to pay attention to as you develop your LinkedIn profile and online reputation.
7 Tips for New (& Inactive) LinkedIn Users
1. (Ask for) Recommendations
When people don’t know us they rely on what others say about us. The Nielsen ‘Under the Influence: Consumer Trust in Advertising’ report issued in fall 2013 found:
- 84% trust recommendations from family and friends
- 68% trust consumer opinions posted online
We can say anything we like about ourselves but when other people speak highly of us and are willing to provide their recommendations in writing, this has much more impact.
To receive a recommendation on LinkedIn, it has to come through LinkedIn from the person making the recommendation. A recommendation can’t be added by you in any other way and this adds to the credibility of the recommendations.
While some suggest ‘waiting’ for others to send you their recommendation, a more proactive approach is often needed.
To learn more about requesting a recommendation, read this article: How To Invite & Manage LinkedIn Recommendations
2. The Personal Touch
While LinkedIn provides a pre-completed template for you to use to request recommendations, it is better to personalize these. It will increase the likelihood of a positive response to your recommendation request and may even increase the quality of the recommendation. The personal touch is best in almost all cases when you ask someone to connect with you, endorse you or recommend you.
3. List your Experience
The more information you provide, the more people will find reasons to connect with you. Think broadly about all your experience and training and think of your audience and what they might want to know as you’re completing these areas.
4. Add Your Skills
Click on the ‘Edit Profile’ link under ‘Profile’ in the top navigation bar. Scroll down to the ‘Skills & Endorsements’ area and click on the pencil icon.
Enter your skills in the area provided and click enter each time you do so that each will show up as an individual item. LinkedIn will prompt you with standard skill terms. If these don’t fit you may need to create your own.
As your connections are now able to add their endorsement to your skills, essentially agreeing you possess the skills you say you do, this area is important.
5. Promote Your LinkedIn Profile Online & In Print
To promote your LinkedIn profile in print, you’ll want to create a distinct URL or personal profile URL. Once you’ve done this, add your LinkedIn profile to your email signature, your business cards, letterhead and other marketing/print materials. As well, be sure to add a link to your website and to social networks, space permitting.
For other suggestions for promoting your LinkedIn profile, read 6 Ways To Make It Easier For People To Find You On Social Networks.
6. Connect With Others
If you’re new to LinkedIn start out by connecting with those you know quite well and working from there. LinkedIn also makes it possible for you to send an invitation to those you’re connected to through email by importing your email address book into LinkedIn. This isn’t something I’ve done, for a number of reasons.
Inviting people to connect with those who have no clue who you are can create problems for you with LinkedIn. Especially if people complain. In some cases, individuals may encourage others who don’t know them to connect with them and then that is fine. But when asking to connect with those who do not know you, a personal and tactful approach is needed. In these cases, don’t use the standard LinkedIn connect request!
Personalize your request and rather than “I’d like to add you to my professional network” tell them why you’d like to add them and how you know them or know of them. An honest and professional approach to making contact is much more likely to result in a new connection than an impersonal and unprofessional approach.
One final tip, think carefully about inviting the connections of your connections to connect with you. If you discover one of your connections is connected to someone who you would like to connect with ask for an introduction or for permission to invite their connections to connect with you.
7. Share Interesting Stuff
As a professional network what you share on LinkedIn will be quite different from what you share on a social network like Facebook.
People are more likely to watch for your name and read your content when what you post is helpful, interesting and relevant to them.
There are many people sharing content on LinkedIn, especially since they opened up their publishing network in February 2014. And, over time you’ll find particular individuals that pop out for you as you scroll through your news feed. Why? Because they share content that is helpful, interesting and relevant to you. Their content helps build their personal and or brand reputation, even when they’re not talking about their business because you value the content they do share.
As a small business owner myself, one of the first places I turn to when looking to find out more about another business or professional person, known or unknown, is LinkedIn. Often this is because when I search for them online, and if they have a LinkedIn profile, one of the first results to show up in a search result is their LinkedIn profile. This can be good news or bad news, depending on what is (or isn’t) on their profile!
The value of LinkedIn, to not only job seekers and recruiters but also to small business owners and business professionals, has increased exponentially as the use of social networks has grown. Don’t neglect this important opportunity to build your online reputation and influence!
This article has been updated from an earlier article to reflect up-to-date information.