If you aren’t on LinkedIn yet – or if your LinkedIn profile is just another neglected page you’ve long since forgotten about – then this blog post is here to help you get the most out of this one-of-a-kind social and professional networking site.
LinkedIn is one of the most important online resources you can use to boost your professional career. It is a social network aimed at giving you the opportunity to connect with other professionals.
Individuals can market themselves, their services, or their companies. It’s also largely used to find jobs. Its importance in the modern labour market can be clearly seen in the following statistics:
- LinkedIn currently has 467 million users.[Source]
- There are over 40 million students and recent graduates on LinkedIn; this is their fastest-growing demographic.[Source]
- 3 million LinkedIn users share content on the platform weekly.[Source]
- User profiles with professional headshots receive 14 times more views on LinkedIn.[Source]
To help you capitalise fully on LinkedIn, we have set out 10 steps for boosting your career by using this platform:
1. Set up your profile
LinkedIn is like any other social network in that you have your own profile page, except here you don’t share photos of your food, but rather share your skills, qualifications, and achievements.
If you haven’t set up your LinkedIn profile yet, go to www.linkedin.com and do it now.
2. Optimise your profile
The more effort you put into your LinkedIn profile, the more you will get out of it:
- Make sure that your profile is complete. You should make sure to fill in your skills, education, and qualifications, and as many of the other categories as possible.
- Focus on fine-tuning your summary, as this is the thing that most people will read when visiting your profile.
- Make sure to use search-friendly terms or keywords when filling in your profile. If you have an obscure job title, make sure to explain it in industry-standard language. This will help potential employers and recruiters find you more easily. (You can learn more about this here).
- Be concise on your profile! No one wants to read an essay — they just want the highlights.
- Connect your profile with other social media platforms, such as your G+, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. This will make your profile appear more credible. You can also include a link to your personal website or blog if you have one.
- Include a professional photo. The likelihood of your profile being viewed more than doubles when you add a profile picture.
- Always use full sentences and proper grammar and spelling. No text-speak or slang.
- Don’t lie on your profile! Recruiters and HR managers have more methods of checking their facts than you can imagine.
3. Start connecting
The primary purpose of LinkedIn is to build professional networks. Networking will allow you to make new contacts, gain exposure, and further your career.
Here is how you can start networking on LinkedIn:
1 -Start by connecting with your previous and/or current employer(s) and colleagues. You can also connect your profile directly with companies you have worked for.
2 – You should also connect with all your educational institutes. This will give you much more credibility. You can click here to go and add Oxbridge Academy to your professional network.
3 – Look for people in your area and in your industry that you might be able to connect with (professional groups on LinkedIn are great places to find connections).
4 – Don’t spam new connections with a flood of messages when you add them. If you send a LinkedIn request to someone you don’t know very well yet, you should send a personal introduction with your connection request.
5 – Follow companies you are interested in or that are big in your industry.
Remember: Always be friendly and professional when connecting with people. And always reply promptly to messages.
4. Get endorsed by your connections
LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to get endorsements from your connections. This means that people can publicly vouch for the skills you list on your profile. Endorsements are tremendously valuable as they act like references on your online résumé.
- Ask for endorsements of your skills from previous employers or colleagues.
- Give endorsements to people in your network and they might feel obliged to return the favour.
- Do not ask for endorsements from people in your network whom you do not know well.
5. Connect with recruiters in your industry
You will most likely get recruiters connecting with you on their own. However, you can always connect with recruiters that specialise in your industry, which might one day lead to you being offered the job of your dreams.
Don’t just add as many recruiters as you can without thinking! Recruiter Sabrina Baker writes that this is how you connect with a recruiter on LinkedIn:
“Since they are so rare, a personalized connection request always gets my attention. I read them. I then look at the profile thoroughly. I then want to reach out to the person and respond to their request personally rather than just accepting it.
That can sometimes get the conversation started right there, but if it doesn’t I suggest sending a ‘thank you for your connection’ message within 24 hours of their accepting.”
6. Join professional groups
There are many professional groups on all topics and across all locations and industries on LinkedIn. Join one or more of these groups and start contributing to the discussions.
Being part of a group will help you increase your visibility, grow your network, and keep up to date with advancements in your field.
7. Stay active
LinkedIn is a social network, so you need to be active on it (you can’t just create a page and leave it). To be active, you can make posts on LinkedIn, not only in groups, but also on your own profile within your professional network:
- Link and share interesting articles you’ve found.
- Write articles on relevant topics that you can share and link to.
- Post professional questions, and look out for questions you can answer from other people.
Staying active will help you get exposure, and if you do it right, it will also help you to market your own worth, and show people that you have expertise to offer.
8. Keep your CV and profile up to date
Always keep your information updated and current. Remember to list new skills when you acquire them, and to add new qualifications if you are a distance learning student finishing your course. Be sure to mark your accomplishments.
9. Make your profile a dynamic showcase
LinkedIn connects with a number of apps, sites, and plug-ins that you can use to make your profile more dynamic. These include the following:
- Twitter applications that pull in your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn profile (You can use hashtags to filter in only professional tweets).
- Creative portfolio displays where you can showcase your work as a writer, journalist, designer, photographer, or other type of creative professional.
- GitHub, which is a great way of showing off your coding work if you are a computer engineer or programmer.
- Box.net, which lets you share files such as e-books.
- Slideshare, which links PowerPoint presentations, infographics, and e-books to your profile.
LinkedIn also allows you to add multimedia links, videos, photos, and other documents to your profile.
10. Stay current with new features on LinkedIn
As a rapidly growing network, LinkedIn brings out new features (like those listed above) all the time. To make the most of your profile, you need to capitalise on these.
Stay current with new LinkedIn developments and features:
- Keep an eye out for new developments on the following web pages:
- LinkedIn Jobs Page: switch on “Let recruiters know you’re open” function
- Add a cover photo (like on Facebook)
- Use InMail’s suggested responses to respond faster
Going the extra mile
To make LinkedIn work for you, you need to put in a little work yourself. At the end of the day, what you get out will depend on what you put in.
This is the same philosophy that we follow at Oxbridge Academy. As a college, we don’t just want to give you your qualification and set you on your way — we want to help you get ahead in a competitive job market, and get ahead in life, long after you have finished studying. So be sure to subscribe to our blog in order to benefit from upcoming posts that will help you succeed as a professional.
Please note: This article was originally posted on 17 April 2015, and has been updated for freshness and accuracy. Updated by: Mia Arderne