LinkedIn offers a pretty basic formula to create your profile foundation. A fair bit of groundwork is initially required, but if maintained properly afterwards, then just a few minutes a day is all that will be needed to grow your network.
Let me first explain why you need to include all this information in full. When people (recruiters, business owners, hiring managers, etc.) search LinkedIn, they use keywords, location, job title, company, and a few other fields to narrow their search from 500 million users to a list of 50 or less.
This means that if you don’t include content-rich information in your profile, you are being passed up, looked over, or simply never found. Not because you’re not of interest to the person who’s searching for you, but because you haven’t given the platform the right information to help you be found. This is a lose/lose for multiple parties – if you have what they want, recruiters and hiring managers are dying to connect with you! So it’s imperative that you include details of what you’re working on, what you’ve achieved, and the impact you make in your work. Don’t worry if some information might seem like bragging; detailing your professional life is why LinkedIn exists! And sharing this information will set you up for success.
The point is: provide as much ‘meat’ as possible because who knows what keywords will be searched and you want to make sure to cover all your bases with everything that you excel at.
In a nutshell, here’s what you need to have up-to-date on your LinkedIn profile:
- A specific description of what you do
- Previous employment information with detailed explanations of what you did (similar to what would be included on your resume, using 3-8 bullet points)
- Any organizations you belong to
- Awards and certifications you’ve won
- Recommendations from current & previous team members (these are VERY important)
- A professional photo
Do not skip any of these steps. An incomplete profile is a lost opportunity. It’s that simple.
Once your profile is fleshed out and offers a robust picture of your experience and expertise, then it’s time to start building your network and tending to it as though it were a garden. The basic formula: build and grow.
Now let’s dive into the importance of establishing an online presence.
LinkedIn isn’t just about building your profile and making connections, it’s also a great place to curate your professional presence online (great news for those who don’t have a website!). You can post thoughts and ideas, share informative or interesting articles, or even publish your own writing. What you do is up to you, but you definitely want to maintain some presence.
Maintaining a presence on LinkedIn offers an opportunity to share your expertise and passion with the world. You can easily position yourself as a thought leader or someone with knowledge to share by publishing thoughts on your industry, tips or advice for those working in your industry (or trying to), or your predictions for the future of your industry. Make sure you edit carefully before publishing and you’re good to go!
If you’re not interested in writing or don’t have the strongest writing skills, find content about your industry and share it on LinkedIn. By sharing information that’s relevant and useful to potential colleagues, you’re adding value to your community while showing that you go above and beyond to stay on top of your work and your industry. Imagine if you were interviewing an employee: wouldn’t you be more likely to hire the person who’s in the know and seems to actually enjoy talking about the work?
If you’re not sure how to find and curate content, search blogs and news outlets that write about your industry or desired industry. Then add them to an aggregator like Feedly to stay on top of new content without having it clutter your inbox. Dedicate fifteen minutes every morning or afternoon to perusing Feedly (or a similar RSS tool). If you find something worth sharing (i.e. valuable or interesting to people like you), then share it on LinkedIn.
Note: Just as you shouldn’t connect simply to connect, don’t share information just to share – make sure you’re only sharing information that’s useful and relevant. If you’re not finding much that seems worthwhile, change the sites you’re following or just post less often. It’s okay to share just a couple of posts per month. Most importantly, add context. It can be as simple as one line, but include a note of thought or mention why people might care about the information you’re sharing.
People will appreciate the information and want to see more of it. When a recruiter or potential new employer looks at your profile, they’ll see that you have a presence, which will position you at a greater advantage when searching for a new job or career change.
There is one more thing you can do to elevate your LinkedIn game: sign up for their premium service.
Signing up for the premium service won’t shortcut your LinkedIn growth and doesn’t guarantee results. What LinkedIn premium does do, however, is provide you with access to people and information that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Here’s a brief listing of some features that you can get through premium:
- Access to more profiles by giving you the opportunity to view and message 3rd party contacts (helping you to do more research and grow your network)
- More information on job listings, such as the salary and how you rank in comparison to other candidates
- A detailed list of who’s been looking at your profile
- More monthly LinkedIn in-mails (LinkedIn’s emailing service)
These features enable you to expand your research and access to making new connections. It might not be necessary if you’re focused on building your profile and presence, but could be very useful if you are deep in job-search mode.