LinkedIn - how to go from Rookie to All Star

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

There is little doubt that LinkedIn is a valuable business tool. Our Marketing Assistant, Jack Reid, examines how to perfect your personal profile. 

The ten invaluable lessons I learnt going from a LinkedIn Beginner to Expert
It is very easy to neglect the benefits a good LinkedIn profile can offer. I, for one, was certainly guilty of leaving my own personal profile for a long period as a dormant and rather unappealing shell. However, after re-engaging with the service I have learnt to embrace the advantages and benefits that using LinkedIn can offer. This blog will outline ten of the key lessons I learnt in discovering how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

But firstly what exactly is the self-described ‘professional network’?
Well it is exactly that, an online professional network. Neither a glorified CV nor a social network LinkedIn should be treated as an online network onto which you can extend your own professional identity. LinkedIn is a way of interacting with other professionals, business, and groups to enhance your own personal brand or business.

The primary way for you to extend your professional identity on LinkedIn is through your profile page. This page is the key space on the site, allowing you to give a description of yourself, your job title, your past experience, your education, as well as the ability to upload a picture of yourself.

So LinkedIn is both an online medium with which to express your professional identity and a networking tool with which to interact with others.

In order to make the most of LinkedIn, here are some of vital lessons that I learned while improving my own profile:-

#1 Complete your profile
LinkedIn search algorithms give high priority to a completed profile. So if you want to be found, ensure that your profile is complete. For example, you will need to include your industry and location, an up-to-date current position (with a description), two past positions, your education, your skills (minimum of 3), a profile photo, and at least 50 connections. Luckily, when creating your profile, LinkedIn offers handy step-by-step prompts.

#2 Make sure you really complete your profile
It’s all very well completing all the sections so LinkedIn rates you highly, but all sections should be completed in a professional manner. Having sections filled in quickly, carelessly, and unprofessionally can have a detrimental effect, giving the impression of laziness or a lack of attention to detail to those who view your profile.

#3 LinkedIn rates your profile
LinkedIn rates the strength of your profile, giving you one of a possible 5 levels (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert, and finally All Star). In essence they are mainly designed to encourage LinkedIn users to add as much self-curated data as possible, but as higher level profiles are rated higher in LinkedIn search algorithms they are worth your attention too. To get all the way to the lofty heights of an All Star profile one must complete all sections of your profile, have recommendations (minimum 2), Connections (minimum 50) and have endorsements (minimum 25).

#4 Don’t annoy your connections
Your connections on LinkedIn will receive alerts when you make a change on your profile, so take care to turn this feature off in privacy controls. This way you’ll avoid irritating your contacts with every little change you make to your profile.

#5 Social etiquette still applies
Even though you are not interacting face to face a certain social etiquette is still important to LinkedIn. Just because you connect with someone does not give you permission to start sending them a stream of frequent sales messages (one of the many advantages of LinkedIn is that people interested in you or your services will actually come to you). Despite the geographic distance, the internet allows social interactions on LinkedIn should be treated in the same way as professional social interactions in the real world.

#6 Groups are great
LinkedIn gives the opportunity of joining groups; these groups act a private space with which to interact with other members with similar interests. They therefore are a great space to network, have relevant discussions on topics that interest you, or be able to self-promote by increasing your reputation as an interesting member of the group.

#7 The Importance of the visual
LinkedIn is an extension of your professional identity; however this identity does not need to be bland. Images can be a great way to make your profile more vibrant and attractive to visitors. A cover photo can be used to display your company logo, or simply to add colour and a level of emotionality to your page.

Similarly a profile photo is crucial in giving a human connection to your profile, with many of your connections first contact with you potentially being through your profile. These images should be representative of you and the industry you work in, a profile photo that may acceptable for a designer may not be acceptable for a banker.

#8 You can personalise your URL
LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to create a personal URL for your profile. This can be great if you want to tie in your LinkedIn profile with your other online presences. A link to your LinkedIn page has much more impact than a standard profile page link. To do this, simply go to edit profile and click the little setting wheel next to the URL under your profile picture. The option to edit your URL should then be at the top right of the page.

#9 LinkedIn is an information goldmine
LinkedIn is not just about being found; it can also be a great research tool. Thinking of engaging with a company or individual? Finding out more about the company or an individual first on LinkedIn could be a great idea. Their LinkedIn profile (or lack of) can be a great way of gaining a first impression of their professionalism and skills.

#10 Don't miss out 
There is really not much of a reason not to be on LinkedIn. You can get involved in networking, meet like-minded people, find jobs and best of all it's free. So as long as you have a professional profile there really is no downside.

The Richmond Marketing Consultancy is a B2B marketing agency providing a full range of outsourced marketing services in SMEs in South East England. If you would like to discuss your use of social media to boost your marketing, please do get in touch.