LinkedIn, the social network for business professionals, was launched in 2003 making it one of the early forms of social media that’s still around today. In internet years it’s practically middle-aged and was part of the Web 2.0 movement that saw the rise of Facebook and Twitter and, of course, the rise and fall of MySpace.
In 2016 LinkedIn reported that it has over 400 million users in over 200 countries solidifying its number one spot at the de facto business social network. Here are five ways to ensure you get more out of using it.
1. Ensure your personal profile is up to scratch
It’s surprising how many professionals are on LinkedIn that have a scarce looking profile. This can signal a number of different things ranging from unprofessionalism to someone who just doesn’t “get” the importance of social. At the very least a LinkedIn profile should include a recent headshot (professional shot only), an introductory professional summary, your employment history with role descriptions and key responsibilities, any honours or awards and university education and a custom URL. A background image is, in my view, optional.
2. Get recommended and endorsed
You probably don’t need me to tell you that third-party recommendations hold more weight than anything you can ever say about yourself. The old saying, “Good PR is what others say about you” holds true. That’s why it’s important to have recommendations on your profile.
Third-party recommendations will also be more impressive to prospective employers, employees and clients, and sometimes your (usually ex) colleagues and clients may take it upon themselves to write you one. Other times you may have to ask them. Either way, always get recommendations from people who have experience in working with you closely and have a grasp of your skill set, professionalism and competence.
Likewise, LinkedIn profiles also includes endorsements which allow your contacts to essentially vote up your skills. The validity of endorsements have come into question since it’s so easy to endorse someone. Often a collection of work friends may group together and endorse a colleague for ‘salt and vinegar crisps’ just for office banter.
3. Become a LinkedIn publisher
Over the last couple of years LinkedIn has been encouraging users to publish their own content on the platform. It initially started out allowing only ‘LinkedIn Influencers’ (Richard Branson et al) to publish content but then rolled it out to the rest of its user base. If your blog posts are good enough they can often flow through the platform from member to member as people share and discuss it. Blog posts on LinkedIn can often garner tens of thousands of views. Also, there is growing evidence to suggest that posting the same content on an external blog as well as LinkedIn improves SEO. Win/win.
4. Use LinkedIn groups to network
If you have an interest in a specific area chances are there’s a LinkedIn group dedicated to it. Not only do groups allow you to network with people have a shared interest but it also gives you access to that group’s members. Better yet, start your own group to build your own community.
5. Share your content on LinkedIn
If you create content that is related to business, career advice or self improvement then it’s likely it will be shared among the LinkedIn community. According to Newswhip the most shared LinkedIn stories were:
Business advice: 32%
Related to career advice: 38%
LinkedIn provides a handy bookmarklet which you can drag in to your browser toolbar that allows you to share third-party content directly with your LinkedIn community or to a specific group.