LinkedIn is the oldest of the major social media networks still in use today. Established in 2003 – just months before Facebook – it’s a unique platform in the sense that it focuses on the world of work, employment and brings together like-minded business professionals.
Now, nearly two decades later, and with 850 million users worldwide, the channel can put its name to some impressive figures including 50 million people searching for jobs each week, 95 job applications per second and 6 people being hired every minute.
What are the benefits of LinkedIn?
Whether you’re looking for a job, to expand your professional network or become an industry thought leader, it’s easy to see why you should be using LinkedIn effectively.
Being an active and respected presence on the platform is now an extension of traditional business networking. If you are employed, building your professional reputation also favourably impacts the business you work for.
Benefits of using LinkedIn effectively as a professional individual
- Build visibility in your industry
- Position yourself as a thought leader
- Gain more profile views
- Grow your professional network
Benefits of using LinkedIn effectively for the business you work for
- Drive brand awareness
- Increase company sales
- Support future growth
- Attract quality hires
- Engage current employees
- Build brand trust and validity
How to build an engaging LinkedIn profile
So, we’ve established that LinkedIn is a powerful tool for both you and the business you work for by allowing you to make valuable connections and even reach new customers. But how can you ensure your profile stands out from the crowd, making you more likely to succeed and achieve the above benefits on the platform?
This all lies in optimising your profile for both performance and engagement. Here are our top tips.
1. Profile basics
It might seem obvious to point out, but be sure to fill out as much information as you can on your LinkedIn profile. A partially complete profile doesn’t exactly show professionalism or attention to detail. Including all key information about yourself helps you to appear transparent and trustworthy.
So, make sure you fill out your profile intro:
Pretty straightforward, you should know this! But remember to include any additional names, shortened versions or preferences. You may want to highlight if you have changed your name at some point, for example including your old name in brackets. Do you have a name commonly mispronounced? Here is a good opportunity to tell people how to say it with phonetics.
A feature added in 2021, you are now able to include your preferred pronouns on your LinkedIn page. We would recommend being open about your pronouns to help normalise discussions about gender.
Be sure to be accurate with your current job title and link to your employer’s profile, making sure you toggle the button to show the company page.
Detail your education and qualifications. Here you can link to the relevant educational establishment profiles such as schools or universities. There is also the option to toggle this ‘on’ so these profiles appear on yours.
It’s also a good idea to say where you are physically based when working, citing this as your home city if you work remotely.
This visual element is an important part of your first impression. Make sure it is good quality and you’re using a high resolution image. It should also look like you – save the dog ear filters for Instagram. A rule of thumb is to take up 60% of the photo with your face.
Again, this should be a quality, high resolution image. Use this opportunity to showcase more about yourself, perhaps encouraging branded cover photos for everyone in your company. Do remember to check how they appear on different devices though, as different parts of the cover image are obscured or revealed depending on this. It’s a good idea to keep things simple with the design or creative element.
How to write a LinkedIn headline
Your headline is 46% more important to prospects than your experience, so it’s important to take the time to craft one which will perform to your benefit.
- Break up information clearly
- Use industry keywords (but don’t ‘keyword stuff’)
- Use powerful adjectives
- List personal qualities or achievements / awards
- List passions in the workplace / society, such as ‘Advocate of’ / ‘Dedicated to’ / ‘Supporter of’
- State what makes you unique
- Include overarching career goal
- Explain what drives you
- Include a CTA
- Include something personal
- Get creative and consider using an emoji
- Show personality / sense of humour
Remember, the first 40 characters/five words are most crucial as content is potentially truncated after this on certain views.
2. Contact information
Your contact information on LinkedIn includes sections for some personal details, some of which have more potential than others to elevate your LinkedIn profile. For example, you have the option to state your address (but if you’ve already pointed out your working location, this might not be necessary for you to reveal). It’s also sensitive and private information so would be understandable to omit, so you could consider simply naming an area and the city you work in to allow your profile more opportunity to show up in local searches.
Including your birthday is arguable as to whether there is a direct benefit to you. However, including your date of birth (the year isn’t asked for here) allows LinkedIn to alert others just before your celebrations begin. So you could counter-argue that this increases your visibility within your professional network. Again, this is sensitive information so you might want to think before openly sharing.
There are options to send you a message on LinkedIn but you may choose to allow for more personal alternatives such as your email address, phone number or instant messaging option such as Skype or Hangouts. Keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to present different options for ease of those trying to contact you – imagine they were an awesome company trying to work with you or to offer you a job.
Also, within this section, you can add a website link to appear on your profile. Depending on your circumstances, this could be your own business website or the website of the company you work for. This link will not only act as an additional traffic driver for said website but gives potential connections or customers to learn more about what you do and who you work for. It’s possible to add multiple websites too – a great opportunity to showcase personal ventures, additional businesses, blogs or even your YouTube channel.
This might seem obvious but be sure to fill out as much information as you can on your LinkedIn profile. A partially complete profile does not instill trust with the people try to connect with, whilst including key information about yourself also helps you appear transparent and trustworthy.
So, make sure you fill out your profile intro:
- Job title and company: Be sure to correctly link up to your company page, if you have one
- Location: Where you do business, if this is different to your physical location
- Contact information:
And of course the picture you use on your profile is also extremely important. A profile with a picture is 11 times more likely to be viewed, so don’t neglect this element! Use it to give a good impression to people you reach out to on LinkedIn. A professional headshot is the best option, and remember it will work in conjunction with the banner background photo:
Having profile pictures with a consistent look and feel for everyone who works at your company can also be a good idea. You can also reinforce your brand identity by including your logo, key marketing proposition, or brand colours in the images.
3. Your public profile
Aside from the changes to the content on your LinkedIn profile, there are some adjustments to the settings which can also help you stand out from the crowd.
You can control the visibility of your profile overall as well as its singular elements. Make sure you select the option to ‘Make my public profile visible to everyone’ as public profiles build connections much quicker than private ones.
You’ll also want to craft a custom LinkedIn profile URL. You can find this on your profile in the top right where it says “Edit public profile & URL”. Change this to your name or something relatively close as you may have to try out several variations before you find one that isn’t being used already. It should be something which makes you easy to identify and increases the chance of you being shown in search.
4. Your services
The providing services section was aimed originally at freelancers, but has its advantages for everyone, as we all have specialisms we can offer whether self-employed or working for a business. Turn this on and you’ll see it allows you to add up to 10 services that you provide. Adding your key skills here will help enhance your visibility in search. This section also appears at the top of your profile and shows immediately to potential connections or customers your breadth of knowledge within your industry.
In the services section, you’re able to add media files to illustrate your work. Not only do examples show your work in the best way, it piques interest and interactivity, which will further encourage people to connect with you. These pieces can take the form of links to external content including web pages, documents, videos, photos and more. If you worked on a project you’re particularly proud of, include it here so other LinkedIn users can see instances of where you have produced your best work.
Another way you can showcase your skills is to ask others for their feedback on a particular one. Request a review from a client or colleague by selecting the service you’ve delivered and finding their LinkedIn profile. Send them a friendly and personalised message explaining why you are contacting them, be open as to why and always offer to do the same in return.
5. Creator mode
LinkedIn refers to its ‘creator mode’ as “a profile setting on your dashboard that can help you grow your reach and influence on LinkedIn.” It does this by giving the user access to tools and features that would otherwise be inaccessible.
Because of this, we recommend switching to creator mode to ensure the best possible environment for your posts to thrive. Once you have done so, there will be changes made to your profile including your ‘connect’ button which will be converted to a ‘follow’ button, allowing you to enter a more influential space in terms of content creation. People can choose to follow you purely because of their interest in what you post rather than making the usual personal connection traditional of work colleagues.
You will also become eligible to appear in suggested content for users as well as your profile only showing your originally produced posts – you’ll no longer see ‘your activity’. Another exciting feature is the ability to add up to 5 ‘talked about’ topics. Make these keywords and subjects from your industry and specialism that you are likely to be posting about. Affirming these will enhance your searchability and pave the way for making those all important like-minded connections.
6. Profile sections
The ‘About’ section of your LinkedIn profile is where you have free creative reign to talk about you, your skills and experience in your own words. You’ll want to use this space to showcase your knowledge and encourage people to connect with you. Use this opportunity effectively and give it careful thought as to what you include.
You need to sum up what you do and where your expertise lies, in an easy-to-digest format that people glancing at your profile will quickly understand. People may only spend a few seconds scanning your profile before deciding whether to accept your invitation to connect. Whilst they don’t need your life story, present your vital information in a friendly and interesting way.
Implement paragraphs to break up text and make it easier to read. Consider using bullet points or numbered lists to break the information down further.
To enhance your profile’s visibility, it’s important to include keywords relating to your business or industry in the summary section. This should happen naturally, as you explain who you are and what you do – again, no keyword stuffing!
Always write in the first person “I am a digital marketing consultant…” consistently as this speaks directly to the reader and instantly makes your summary more personal.
A few more pointers to consider when crafting the perfect LinkedIn summary:
- The first sentence is the most important. Make it count.
- Write for your audience – a prospective client or new employee
- Tell stories and anecdotes
- Be authentic and show your personality
- Describe what makes you tick and your passions
- Contextualise your past employment
- Explain your current role
- Highlight your successes and achievements
- Reveal your character and show personality
- Write about your pastimes and life outside of work
- Avoid complicated jargon
- Avoid overused buzzwords or phrases – ‘passionate’, ‘creative’, ‘award-winning’
- Don’t be too formal – write how you would speak
Once you’ve wrapped up your about section on your LinkedIn profile, you can then consider adding some finishing touches in the form of other profile sections. When you click ‘add profile section’, you will be given some options of the types of information you may want to talk about. Made up of ‘core’, ‘recommended’ and ‘additional’ selections, we advise considering every option and add if it is relevant to you and your accomplishments. This is a really good opportunity to shine and show those achievements and abilities which are unique to you. You may also want to consider completing a skills assessment through LinkedIn for those skills which you add. What’s more, you’ll gain a skills badge for your profile, which shows direct evidence of your capabilities.
Your ultimate LinkedIn profile checklist
- Craft your Headline
- Revisit your profile Summary
- Add a website to your contact information
- Turn on ‘Open to Providing Services’ and add your specialisms
- Turn on Creator Mode and add your talked about topics
Reaching ‘All Star Status’ on LinkedIn
LinkedIn profiles with ‘All Star’ status are 40x more likely to receive job opportunities. But, what exactly is it? Well, as you complete more and more suggested profile sections, your profile level metre will increase, in turn, improving your discoverability.
Find your LinkedIn profile level metre:
- Click the Me icon at the top right
- Select ‘View Profile’.
- The ‘suggested for you’ area below your introduction section displays your current profile level.
- Follow the screen prompts to complete LinkedIn steps to achieve your All Star status.
Once you have worked through all of LinkedIn’s section prompts, you’ll gain that all important All Star rating and you’ll no longer see any notifications or the metre itself.
Not only will you need to optimise your profile but you’ll also need to connect with people and content on the LinkedIn platform in order to maximise performance and engagement. Let us take you through some recommendations for doing just that.
1. Connect with people
There are a few ways in which you can make connections with others on LinkedIn. Firstly, are the ‘People you may know’ suggestions. Find these in the ‘My company’ tab which will suggest your co-workers. LinkedIn will also prompt others based on your profile information, your interests and existing connections. These are shown down the right hand side of your profile or in the ‘My Network’ tab.
You can also look to sync your contacts with your email or phone address book to find people you have other communication details for. Groups are also a good place to find professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to share their insights and experiences, ask for guidance, and build valuable connections.
Remember – you can always ‘follow’ rather than connect if the option is there. When you come across someone inspiring or interesting but you don’t have a connection to them personally, this is a great way to stay up to date with the content they produce and post.
2. Level up your connections
When inviting others to connect, always include a personalised message to introduce yourself and say why you would like to connect. We’ve been on the receiving end of a LinkedIn ‘friend request’ and have no idea who they are. Lessen your risk of being deleted, with a polite explanation of why you made the connection in the first place.
It’s important to keep your connections meaningful too – don’t just add random people, this will move you away from the primary purpose of the LinkedIn network. Think about your colleagues past and present, the people you’ve met along the way, those like-minded professionals and industry thought leaders. It’s quality over quantity.
You could consider reciprocal endorsements. By endorsing the skills you know your colleagues are gifted in, which will hopefully encourage them to do the same in return. (You can hide any endorsements if you feel they don’t reflect you) You can also directly request endorsements from people you’ve worked with.
Next level to endorsements are recommendations. These include giving qualitative feedback for a particular skill. You can both give a recommendation and ask for one. Again, remember to do this honestly – it’s to no-one’s advantage to appear knowledgeable in an area you are not. Also keep in mind the best times to ask for recommendations: perhaps when you have closed a project or produced an excellent piece of work.
3. Connecting with content
Finding content to share and engage with is more of a manual task – but you’ll find lots of helpful areas and functions to help with this. LinkedIn pages are similar to personal profiles, but they represent businesses or brands. Look to follow those brands and businesses within your industry so you can stay on top of the latest trends and changes.
Newsletters are a type of content on LinkedIn – you are currently unable to search for newsletters on the platform but if someone you are connected to publishes one, you will get a notification and you can subscribe to it from there. Those who write about a topic on a regular basis may find newsletters the best way to circulate their thoughts.
Hashtags are used on the LinkedIn platform, and when it comes to content you can search and follow relevant industry hashtags so you can find your most sought after content quickly.
Your network checklist
- Make meaningful connections – with a personal message or simply follow people of interest
- Explore and join industry relevant groups
- Consider endorsing and writing recommendations for your colleagues
- Follow industry specific hashtags and business pages
- Explore and subscribe to industry newsletters
Finally, once you’ve tweaked your LinkedIn profile to near-perfection, make sure you revisit it regularly and refresh or update your information as necessary. A profile with out-of-date information could discourage people from connecting with you.
Stay active on LinkedIn in other ways too, by joining relevant groups and contributing to discussions, sharing updates, or publishing posts directly onto the platform.
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