When it comes to social media today, it’s easy to focus on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook; especially as millennials. We get caught up in the fun mediums catered to socializing with our friends and family. However, as social media has developed over the years it has grown to include platforms that also help us socialize with strangers.
While the word stranger often carries a negative connotation, in terms of social media it should be considered positive. Think investors, employers, employees, partners, and customers. The people you don’t know personally but you want or need to know professionally. You find them on platforms we sometimes don’t consider social like YouTube, Pinterest, Yelp, Tumblr and – you guessed it – LinkedIn.
It’s easy to overlook certain social media platforms that don’t promote or require frequent engagement. LinkedIn is one of the most underused social platforms because people take a one-and-done approach with it.
If you don’t take anything away from this article, take this: LinkedIn is a leading SEO tool due to it’s text-heavy nature and robust link capabilities. So, whether you like it or not, your LinkedIn that hasn’t been updated since you graduated from college is one of the first things someone sees when they google you.
An optimized LinkedIn page can help you gain targeted media attention, develop qualified business relationships, attain thought leadership status, and promote a brand. Here are some insights I’ve learned on what hurts and helps on LinkedIn.
It’s hurtful when you…
…Don’t have a professional head shot.
I’m not making this point to say you need to go out and hire a photographer. I am making this point to say that selfies, photos with busy backgrounds, and photos in distracting attire should not be your first pick for LinkedIn. This is one of the social media platforms where less is more. Choose a photo that is up-to-date that someone could use to identify you in person.
…Don’t update your page annually.
I made this point in my introduction but let me elaborate. It’s not just about making sure your LinkedIn mirrors your resume. It’s also about little things like changing the location on your page if you move to ensure you’re tapped into the right geographic network. Add in new software programs you learn as well as trainings and certifications you complete. Keep the list of awards you win and organizations you join updated. Treat LinkedIn like a resume on steroids. We often complain about how boring or limiting a resume can be. LinkedIn is the space to add and explain the accolades and notes you had to edit out of your resume. Take advantage of that.
…Don’t include contact information.
How many times have you wanted to ask a recruiter a question or send an extensive note before connecting with someone on LinkedIn? LinkedIn has chosen to force people to connect before communicating. But if you want to circumvent the system, help do that. Include your email and/or office number on your public profile. The whole purpose of social media is to be social. Help make that easier for people trying to get in touch with you.
…Don’t have links on your page.
When applying for a job or submitting a proposal, quite often you rely on a portfolio to elaborate on your experience in a way that your resume and cover letter can not. LinkedIn has helped you consolidate this process. Under each professional experience you have the option to link content, anything from presentations to videos. And the beauty of it all is the more you link the higher the content will appear in search engines! So don’t just tell them on LinkedIn, show them. Like every other social media platform, visual content sparks engagement.
…Use hyperbole and buzz words.
That headline is a slippery slope. You will look up and have words like “guru,” “connoisseur,” “ninja” and “rockstar” all over the pace. I hate to beat a dead horse, but use your headline for SEO benefits. You should include niche, descriptive terms that are highly catered to your industry and your target audience. Your headline is actually where you should spend a dedicated amount of time, as it’s the first thing that comes up after you name in a LinkedIn search. You need those 4-6 words to be powerful and succinct enough to immediately draw the right people in.
It’s helpful when you…
…Utilize the post and article features.
Closing a project, landing a new client, attending a conference, reaching a department milestone. All of these small wins are posts that can go on your LinkedIn. It’s the perfect humble brag. Oftentimes small professional updates end up in a text message to your mom or group chat with your friends. But these professional updates showcase consistent grow and activity directly to those who need to see them. LinkedIn is also a great blogging platform for sharing your take or polling others for their take on industry trends, best practices and opportunities. Some people don’t know about this feature on LinkedIn so just be sure, on the posting option of your LinkedIn homepage there is a button that says “Write An Article.” When you click this button is takes you directly to an article template that features formatted image, hyperlink and headline options.
If this feature on LinkedIn seems odd, just treat it like references on a job application. We all have 3-4 people we jot down in that section who can speak to our professional experience, skills and strengths. Turn to those same people for recommendations. Make sure to request that keep it to a paragraph and truly speaks to a specific time in your career. Here is another instance where less is more. Have five recommendations maximum. Your LinkedIn profile is already pretty lengthy and this section is towards the bottom so people’s attention spans will not be there to trudge through 20 recommendations.
…Consider your connections list a public rolodex.
This topic is a hot debate for LinkedIn, but ever since someone explained it to me this way it stuck with me. It’s so easy to qualify your clout on social media based on your quantity of followers. But with LinkedIn, you should really think more about quality. You don’t have to connect with all of your Facebook friends. Focus on connecting with people who you actually connect to, whether that is through school, workplace, industry, or volunteerism. There are recruiters, clients and investors who look at candidates’ connections before reaching out, and that can be a blessing or a curse.
…Use the “profile views” feature to your advantage.
Before Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook stories let you view your audience, you could see who was watching you on LinkedIn. When the social platform first hit the scene, the profile views features was one of the most enticing parts. Unfortunately, now you can regulate it. But, it is still a LinkedIn perk that can work to your advantage. When you’re scrolling through your other social media apps before bed, be sure to scroll through your LinkedIn app too. Checking in on those profile views before a big meeting, event, or even sales push can help put people on your radar who you may have overlooked. It may feel like trolling, but don’t be scared to connect with someone who viewed your profile and actually ended up looking useful to your network.
…Join groups with intent.
I admit, when I first joined LinkedIn I joined every sorority, college, and community group that was listed on my resume. That’s not the best way to go about it though. There’s an activities section on your LinkedIn page for that. Be strategic with the groups you join and participate in. These groups should truly educate and inspire you to be a better professional. And, the key word there is professional. You can join a Facebook group for dog lovers or follow an Instagram hashtag for inspirational quotes.