Monday, July 7, 2014

Improving Your Book of Business [10 LinkedIn User Tips]

LinkedIn is the social media solution for professionals. Most people reading this article will already understand the basics of how to set up a great professional profile

But, as social media continues to evolve the way we network and do business, there are many things you can do to up the ante on your social branding and business. Here are my top ten ways to improve how you use LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn As a Resource
  • One of the most useful aspects of LinkedIn is finding who you need to find within a company. From hiring managers to decision makers and purchasers, the Advanced Search option, combined with what you can find out on a company page and Google, is a powerful tool. 
  • Expanding your network the right way. LinkedIn makes it incredibly easy to ask to connect with virtually any other person on the social media channel. However, you will get a much better response if you personalize the message of why you want to connect, and if you don’t try to sell someone on the first email. Want to connect with an influencer in your community? Don’t just send the standard, “I would like to add you to my professional network.” Send an individualized message about how impressed you were with his or her latest endeavor, and that you would like to connect to keep up on the progress of project XXX. You’ll be surprised at the results.  
  • Most people join LinkedIn to improve their network and push business. Many forget about the learning opportunities! Industry groups, the ability to message your network, and conversation threads are all great ways to reach out to like-minded professionals for answers to your questions, professional opinions and new strategies. And, you can prove your worth by helping others with their questions. But don’t be greedy and simply self-promoting. Truly use LinkedIn as a resource to help others, and let others help you. You’ll get further. [Tip, see #10

Profile Tweaks to Make Your Peers Jealous
  • Your LinkedIn Headline is the first thing people see when searching. It is your first impression. The standard headline is your current job title, but you can and should change it. There are tons of articles out there on the hows and whys, like this, this, and this article. The simple fact is if your headline is just your job title, people will assume you don’t use LinkedIn much, or don’t focus on your personal brand. Make yourself stand out with your first impression. 
  • Rich media links are a fairly new addition to LinkedIn profiles. By adding rich media links and files, you can showcase your talents in a great, visually interesting way. Pinterest and instagram are huge for a reason - people like visual content. So, whether it is a white paper you have written, photographs of a speaking engagement you had, or the results of a project you helped build, you can add the links to your profile and transform your profile from a resume to a beautiful portfolio that is interesting and engaging.  
  • Projects and Publications are another rich media section you can add to your profile. They work in much the same way as the standard rich media. What makes these categories special for your LinkedIn profile then? You can add collaborators! Social Media 101: the more connections you make within your posts, the more your post gets seen. The same holds true here. By adding a project, and tagging the people you collaborated with, not only do your connections see the work, but all of the connections of your collaborators see the work too! It’s a great leap in expanding your network and your personal brand. 
  • Did you know you can reorganize the content chunks in your LinkedIn profile, to make your profile as appeasing as possible? Remember when you first graduated, the best part of your resume was your degree? At that point, it made sense to showcase Education towards the top of any resume or profile. Fifteen years into a position, where degrees don’t matter much anymore? Shift Education down, and showcase your winning strategies and current projects. With the short attention spans of adults today, it is imperative to show your assets as close to the top as possible. When you edit your profile, there is a two-way up/down arrow near the top of each section [and also one within job positions]. Simply click on the arrow, hold the mouse button down, and drag each section to where you prefer in your profile! Don’t forget to save.

Settings to Save Your Reputation
  • Whether you are simply adding new projects, or are tuning up your profile to start the job hunt again, it is wise to turn off notifications before you start editing your profile. Why? If you are searching for a new job, you may not want to alert your current employer. If you are just adding in new projects and descriptions? Every time you hit save, your network sees a “profile updated” notification from you. If you are like me, and click save often, this can get annoying to your network. Good etiquette is not to annoy your network! See help here for turning off notifications when updating your profile.
  • Take the time to turn on or off what people can see when you view their profiles. Reviewing a job applicant? You probably don’t want him to see that you viewed his profile, incase you decide not to interview him. Scouting the competition? Same thoughts. However, I wouldn’t always leave this “off”. People are naturally curious. I love seeing who has viewed my profile, and am often curious who they are. By allowing others to see that you viewed their profiles, you open the door a little wider for a new connection. 
  • Consciously pick what is public on your profile, and what isn’t. Everyone has a different opinion about how much information is too much information, for privacy and security. That being said, your LinkedIn profile is your professional portfolio. If you lock everything down and don’t allow the public to see anything, you will never get found. On the other hand, if you give everything away, people lose the incentive to connect with you and you run a higher risk of identity theft. I say tease them with enough information that they can tell that your profile is really you, but leave them wanting more [you will have to decide for yourself where that line is]. 

These ten tips have helped up the ante for my networking. How about you? What tips do you have for improving your LinkedIn profile?

Image by Lindsey Garrett

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