LinkedIn is a go-to place for professional networking. The platform offers its users a CV-like profile page which includes a brief bio, key career milestones where you can go into as much detail as you’d like about a particular experience, education, and professional achievements such as certifications, awards, publications, volunteering experience etc.
Today, we will talk about how to make the most of it even if you are not a frequent social media user and don’t feel comfortable sharing personal information and reaching out to strangers on a regular basis. LinkedIn could be a very powerful tool for your professional personal branding even under such circumstances! Let’s explore.
LinkedIn profile basics
LinkedIn is a social media network, and in order to create profile there you will need to register with your work or personal email. Later on, you will be provided with an option to add your phone number, and as many emails as you would like to (it is convenient if you want to use their function to find contacts based on your address books).
During the registration process, you are also asked to add your real first name and last name. As you remember, I always recommend to do just the same on all the social media platforms which you want to use for personal branding purpose. (see HOW TO BUILD YOUR PERSONAL BRAND ONLINE: FIRST STEPS for more details)
Basically, that’s all, you are all set to start your LinkedIn journey!
LinkedIn profile sections to include on your page
LinkedIn provides a wide variety of profile sections you can use to highlight all types of work experience, volunteering, and education. The main sections they advertise are:
- Additional information;
- Supported languages.
In these, you showcase the following information:
- Your current company, position, educational institution you attended, number of connections, preferred contact information;
- Brief bio: note that only 3 lines of text is visible on desktop and even less on mobile, so be concise;
- Work experience: you decide on the level of detail you want to provide;
- Education history: you can select which institution to showcase in you Intro section;
- Licences and certifications (with proof links);
- Volunteer experience;
- Skills and endorsements;
- Recommendations from your network;
- Courses taken: many of the MOOC platforms offer their credentials to course takers to add on their LinkedIn profiles;
- Publications: online and offline;
- Languages: you can specify your level of proficiency;
- Interests: list of companies, causes, public persons you follow.
If you cannot or do not want to fill all the fields, you don’t have to. Stick to the most relevant experience and information you really want to share: your current position and years of experience, latest achievements in education, and any professional certifications you posses.
I also recommend that you always keep your profile photo relevant and professional on LinkedIn (and across other social media platforms). People who research your professional footprint need to see consistency in your online profile.
Networking on LinkedIn
In our weekly Q&A sessions, Maks asked, if that okay to cold email people to establish connection, or are there better ways to grow your digital network.
Netiquette, or online etiquette, suggests that it is completely okay if you have someone who can make an email introduction. Then, that person emails both you and your networking prospect and formally puts you in touch.
If you don’t have such mutual contact, it is better to find person’s profile on social media, preferably on LinkedIn as it allows for a brief (300 characters long) note to be added to your request so you can explain your interest.
Email someone only after they gave you their permission to do so, but send a cover message freely when inviting them to connect on LinkedIn.
Track your progress on LinkedIn
There are several key performance indicators (KPIs) you can use to measure your personal success on LinkedIn. The most obvious of them is number of connections you have on this network, but it is also a tricky one!
You can have thousands of connections with whom you never exchange a single message, or you can have those you select strategically, to whom you reach out regularly, maintain contact, build a real life relationship. Those are definitely much more effective than thousands of virtual strangers.
LinkedIn provides another interesting internal metric that you can use to evaluate your progress: Social Selling Index or SSI.
It shows how your profile performs in different aspects of social media presence:
- establishing your professional brand;
- finding the right people;
- engaging with insights;
- building relationships.
Using SSI relatively to your network (also shown on the chart, you cannot see other people’s metrics directly) you can evaluate if your profile is complete, if you are reaching out to the right prospects inside or outside your industry, if you are active enough connecting and communicating with your network, and if you are using the insights platform provides.
How to use LinkedIn for personal branding if you don’t like social media at all
It is often the case that we need to use social media for personal branding purposes though we are not that happy about being active there at all. LinkedIn gives you opportunity to create your profile once, update it only when you have a significant professional update, and still use it as a good CV and cover letter.
- Fill in the main fields on your profile;
- Update your photo;
- Add your past and current colleagues to the network;
- Invest 10-15 minutes of your time weekly to add new contacts and send a message to some of existing connections.
If you don’t feel like spending too much time on the social network, select your targets strategically: it could be someone to congratulate on a job transition or promotion (quick tip: do not use canned messages provided by LinkedIn, spend 30 seconds writing a genuine message), or a person interested in a particular topic that you can share an update about.
Another great opportunity to build consistent professional presence on the network is following relevant hashtags and joining groups and taking part in discussions happening there. Even if you can allocate only 10-15 minutes a week to read content there and comment, it can be a wise time investment.
LinkedIn is great for professional branding. If you want to select just one social media network to be present on, probably I would recommend that you select LinkedIn for that purpose. Meanwhile, consider joining YouGetBranded personal branding mailing list to receive short tips, reading suggestions, and blog updates to your inbox.