Find Me on LinkedIn
“Active participation on LinkedIn is the best way to say
‘Look at me!’ without saying ‘Look at me!’
Over the next few weeks, we will talk about some of the best tools for building your visibility—LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Here, we will talk about establishing a presence on these sites. In subsequent lessons, we will talk about using these platforms to project your message and using them for social media marketing, but only after we first cover some basics of marketing.
These next few lessons are about setting yourself up to have a presence on these platforms. We will begin with LinkedIn.
What is LinkedIn? According to Moz.com, “If you took your water cooler, networking event, business card holder, and Rolodex, smooched them together, and put that concoction up on a domain, you would approximate LinkedIn.”[i] LinkedIn has been called Facebook for Grownups. It is the professional’s go-to network. In fact, it boasts nearly three times the conversion rate of Facebook.[ii]
LinkedIn launched on May 5, 2003. By the end of its first month, the site boasted 4,500 users. By 2016, LinkedIn connected more than 414 million users,[iii] or roughly the equivalent of every man, woman, and child in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain combined. It is growing by 2 users per second.[iv]
LinkedIn members can be found in 200 countries and the site receives 100 million unique visitors each month. At the time of this writing, 28 percent of American adults are on LinkedIn. Though only 13 percent of Millennials are on LinkedIn, 41 percent of millionaires and 79 percent of Washington Insiders are on the connected.[v] Millennials, take note.
LinkedIn follows a freemium business model. This means that you can use the basic plan for free. The company provides limited features, anticipating that the service will be so useful that you will upgrade in time.[vi] In what follows, I will show you how to set up a free LinkedIn account and how to optimize it for maximum visibility.
Are You LinkedIn?
LinkedIn provides users with a mini-website from which they can project who they are and what they offer to the rest of the world. At the core of this mini-website is a standardized résumé structure that you can customize as you like.
Getting on LinkedIn is easy. Follow these simple steps:
- Go to www.LinkedIn.com
- You will see a screen that invites you to join:
- Fill in your name, email, and password.
- Fill out the form and click Join now
LinkedIn will then help you build your profile. It will prompt you for information about your job, your company, and your industry. Then, it will ask you about your interests. LinkedIn will offer to search your contacts to suggest potential connections. This will help you jumpstart your network.
When you get into your account, LinkedIn offers a menu of choices to customize your settings. You should see choices such as Profile, Communications, Groups, Companies, & Applications, and Account.
When you click on Profile, you will see a variety of choices for privacy controls and settings. This is a philosophical choice, but if your goal is to increase visibility, make your page as accessible as possible.
At the top of the screen you will see Profile, My Network, Jobs, and Interests. When you first get started, you will spend the majority of your time under the Profile tab.
Creating your Profile
Click the Profile tab and you will be able to edit your profile. If you already have a Facebook account, this will be a familiar experience. Your profile is important. It is your introduction to the rest of the world. We teach our children not to judge by appearance, but in business “people will judge you based on your profile.”[vii]
First, add a photo to your profile. If possible, use a professional headshot.[viii] Do not skip this step. According to LinkedIn, a photo provides “11 times more profile views.”[ix] DMR Digital Stats/Gadgets has found that “Adding a professional photo makes you 14 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn.”[x]
Next, add your education and work experience to complete your profile. As you begin to build your profile, LinkedIn will keep you apprised of your Profile Strength. Your goal should be to move from Beginner to All-Star.
A Word About Honesty
I should not have to write this, but as you fill out your profile, be honest. If you are looking for a great way to pants yourself in front of the entire world, I can hardly think of a better way than lying on your résumé.
If your résumé is light, grow it organically by volunteering or working hard to generate new experiences, but never lie. “CareerBuilder recently surveyed 2,500 hiring managers and discovered that 30 percent regularly find false or misleading references on applicants’ CVs.”[xi] This is stunning because, “according to Michael Erwin, a senior career adviser at CareerBuilder… an estimated 80 percent of employers do check them, often before they call someone in for an interview.”[xii] Lying on your résumé is not just immoral; it is also statistically stupid.
When you have completed these steps, you will have a working LinkedIn profile, but you will need to optimize your profile. Major components include the Headline, Contact information, Summary, Experience, Education, Skills and Endorsements, Interests, and Recommendations. The profile builder helped you with the core of your résumé Experience and Education. I will discuss each of the other major features below.
LinkedIn will use your current job title as your default headline, but headlines can be so much more. Saying that you are a marketing manager at the XYZ Corporation may be factually correct, but it does nothing to accentuate your USP. Tell us about the value you bring to the table. Can you be more creative with your headline?
If you are the brand, your headline is your brand’s slogan. Now ask yourself are you proud of your slogan? Is it what you’re all about? Does it actually achieve anything? If the answer to those questions is no – there is something you can and should do about it. Come up with something unique, something so stunningly original that makes people think, smile or better still, act.[xiii]
The goal here is to make your profile as accessible as possible. You went through all of the trouble to upload your information, but all of that amounts to nothing if a prospective connection cannot get in touch with you easily.
Give out all of the professional contact information you can. Include your email and phone number, and address. Do not make a prospective contact Google it. LinkedIn allows you include your twitter address. It also allows links for personal and company websites. Maximize this asset.
You can customize your URL so instead of this:
You can have a simple address such as this:
Use the simple address on marketing materials. Remember, your goal is to make it easy for others to find you.
The summary is the best place to let your personality shine. Tell your story so that others understand how you are uniquely qualified to solve their problems. Just remember that there is a fine line between providing useful information and sounding arrogant.[xiv] The summary is:
the only area on the Profile where you get to define yourself from scratch, with a blank sheet, unencumbered by dates, labels or other text boxes. Because it’s the first thing people read whether they’ve decided to click on your Photo/Headline or if they’ve actively searched on your name. Because it’s personal – it’s where people look to find out what makes you tick. Are you in command of your narrative? Does your Summary do you justice?[xv]
Forgo business-speak and try to sound human. Instead of trying to impress your readers with ridiculous phrases such as “I synergistically orchestrate niche markets,” it is better to say that you work closely with your clients in [a very specific] industry.” Be human and remember that you are competing for people’s attention with your summary:
Be considerate with time and I’ll reward you with mine. If you knew I had 10 seconds to read your Summary, what would you write? If what you write is interesting, original or makes me ponder – you may have just bought yourself another 10 seconds.[xvi]
Skills and Endorsements
LinkedIn allows you to add skills to your profile. According to LinkedIn, “Members with skills on their profile get 4 times as many profile views.”[xvii] You can add up to fifty skills, and after you have added them, others will confirm that you have them. This provides social proof to those who do not know you.[xviii]
You do not have to list every skill you possess. Highlight your USP by providing the skills that are most relevant to your position. For example, if you are a marketing manager, you might list marketing, sales operations, sales management, direct sales, and international sales, if those skills reflect your USP. Leave out your skills with Microsoft Office or cost accounting if they are not relevant to your prospective audience.
LinkedIn allows you to customize your profile to let your personality shine through. Have you done volunteer work that accentuates your story? Maybe you created all of the marketing materials for a small non-profit while on a missions trip to Africa. Tell us about it. Such detail makes you unique. List honors and awards you have received, patents, certifications, or languages you have learned. What you choose to highlight will depend entirely on your marketing message and background.
Connecting on LinkedIn
The contact information you provided will not be visible to others until you have made a connection with another LinkedIn member. Then, he will have access to your broader profile, including all the ways you have listed to get in contact with you.
When you want to get in touch with someone, click Connect to request to make a connection. A box will appear asking how you know the person. Your choices include Colleague, Classmate, We’ve done business together, Friend, Other, or “I don’t know this person.”
You can also include a personal note when you request a connection. As a placeholder, LinkedIn provides the following text: “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Please do not sent that message. Personalize your message, so the other person remembers you and will be more inclined to connect. For example,
It was great to meet you at the networking event today. [Insert something specific about your conversation here.] Please let me know if you would like me to connect you to anyone in my network. – Pat Johnson
Go out of your way to show others that you are interested in them. Many of my LinkedIn connections contacted me immediately after a networking event. Even brief personal contact turn cold calls into warm connections, and you can keep these connections warm by customizing your message. That connection should set the stage for meeting where you can get to know each another.
One last thought. Unless you are introduced by a mutual connection for this particular purpose, do not request to connect with others on LinkedIn “and then, the minute they join your network, send them a request for them to introduce you to someone they know. There is no better way to signal ‘You’re just a means to my end!’”[xix]
LinkedIn allows you to provide additional social proof to your network through recommendations. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to ask others in your network for recommendations with the click of an Ask to be recommended button. Then it is up to the other person whether they wish to write a short testimonial on your behalf.
Be careful with recommendations. Do not ask people to recommend or endorse you as a quid pro quo, and never endorse or recommend people you do not know. This gets back to the fundamental issue of honesty discussed earlier.[xx] Often, those that you endorse or recommend will return the favor, but if they do, it should be because they know you and can stand behind their words. Don’t spend your time trying to game the system and do not put mere acquaintances in the awkward position of recommending you.
Putting It All Together
I use LinkedIn regularly. A few weeks ago, when an old friend from graduate school came to mind, I typed his name into LinkedIn and within hours, we were rehashing the old days, and catching up on each other’s lives. I have connected with new business people, screened prospective employees, and reached out to weak ties for specific advice on various subjects.
Remember Donna, the caterer from an earlier lesson? Donna was at her homeowners’ association meeting where she heard that management was looking into the installation of security cameras for the park. After the meeting, she told Tom, who you also met in a previous lesson.
Tom looked up the HOA manager on LinkedIn, sending him a message that he would like to connect. He told the manager a bit about what he does and that he might be able to help him solve his security problem. They set up a meeting for Friday so that Tom could find out more about the HOA’s security needs. After the meeting, Tom looked up the property on Google earth, and sent him a proposal with specific details about the best placement for the security cameras on the property.
Tom not only uses LinkedIn to be found passively, but he proactively uses LinkedIn to connect with others. The best part is that this just scratches the surface of what you can do with LinkedIn. We will discuss the power of LinkedIn in social media marketing in a later lesson.
It’s Your Turn
I have provided an overview of the major features of LinkedIn. You have what you need to know to get started. If you do not have a LinkedIn account, start one. If you have a LinkedIn account, optimize it. Visibility on LinkedIn comes down to a few core concepts:
- Be there: You have to be on LinkedIn to be found
- Be accessible: Once you are found, make contact easy.
- Be professional: Don’t post kitten photos unless you are a veterinarian.
- Be human: Eliminate business-speak. Demonstrate depth with ideas, not jargon.
- Be certain to project your USP: Clearly communicate your value proposition to others.
Are you on LinkedIn? If not, set up a LinkedIn profile. If you are on LinkedIn, help your accountability partner or a friend set up their profiles. Then use what you have learned in this lesson optimize your own profile. What did you learn?
Find others on LinkedIn.
Join me: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daringerdes and we will each add another node to our respective networks.
Follow GBN on LinkedIn too: https://www.linkedin.com/company/great-business-networking.
Follow an influencer like Darhmesh Shah, the Founder of HubSpot (you will read about him in future lessons): https://www.linkedin.com/in/dharmesh.
What did you learn from these profiles?
This Month’s Snack-Sized Skill is about online Etiquette. Watch it and discuss it with your accountability partner. How do these same principles apply to your online LinkedIn Profile?
The GBNers mentioned in this lesson were:
Donna Vellon Mendes
Devine Desserts by Donna
HLS Technology Solutions
[i] The beginner’s guide to social media (n. d.) Moz.com. Retrieved from https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-social-media/linkedin (para. 2)
[ii] The beginner’s guide to social media (n. d.) Moz.com. Retrieved from https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-social-media/linkedin
[iii] By the numbers: 125+ amazing LinkedIn statistics. (2016). DMR Digital Stats/Gadgets. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/
[iv] By the numbers: 125+ amazing LinkedIn statistics. (2016). DMR Digital Stats/Gadgets. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/
[v] By the numbers: 125+ amazing LinkedIn statistics. (2016). DMR Digital Stats/Gadgets. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/
[vi] What is Fremium? (n. d.) Fremium.org. Retrieved from http://www.freemium.org/
[vii] Demers, J. (2014, Nov, 5). 7 truths about LinkedIn every professional needs to know. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/7-truths-about-linkedin-every-professional-needs-to-know.html. (para. 4)
[viii] Demers, J. (2014, Nov, 5). 7 truths about LinkedIn every professional needs to know. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/7-truths-about-linkedin-every-professional-needs-to-know.html. (para. 5)
[ix] LinkedIn.Com – Edit Profile page.
[x] By the numbers: 125+ amazing LinkedIn statistics. (2016). DMR Digital Stats/Gadgets. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/
[xi] Suddath, C. (2013, January 14). Your résumé: Imaginary friends as job references. Bloomberg Business. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2013-01-14/your-r-sum-imaginary-friends-as-job-references#r=nav-f-story (para. 1).
[xii] Suddath, C. (2013, January 14). Your résumé: Imaginary friends as job references. Bloomberg Business. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2013-01-14/your-r-sum-imaginary-friends-as-job-references#r=nav-f-story (para. 2).
[xiii] Foote, A. (2013, February 7). 3 Stunningly good LinkedIn profile summaries. LINKEDINSIGHTS.com. Retrieved from http://www.linkedinsights.com/3-stunningly-good-linkedin-profile-summaries/ (para. 8)
[xiv] Demers, J. (2014, Nov, 5). 7 truths about LinkedIn every professional needs to know. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/jayson-demers/7-truths-about-linkedin-every-professional-needs-to-know.html (para. 5)
[xv] Foote, A. (2013, February 7). 3 Stunningly good LinkedIn profile summaries. LINKEDINSIGHTS.com. Retrieved from http://www.linkedinsights.com/3-stunningly-good-linkedin-profile-summaries/ (para. 4)
[xvi] Foote, A. (2013, February 7). 3 Stunningly good LinkedIn profile summaries. LINKEDINSIGHTS.com. Retrieved from http://www.linkedinsights.com/3-stunningly-good-linkedin-profile-summaries/ (para. 7)
[xvii] LinkedIn.Com – Edit Profile page.
[xviii] (Henley, M. (2014, January 30). How to create a killer LinkedIn profile [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5xtQKLvX4U
[xix] Ryan, L. (2016, February 27). Ten things never to do on LinkedIn. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2016/02/27/ten-things-never-to-do-on-linkedin/#48054103173f
[xx] Ryan, L. (2016, February 27). Ten things never to do on LinkedIn. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2016/02/27/ten-things-never-to-do-on-linkedin/#48054103173f
Content written by Darin Gerdes of Charleston Southern University. Copyright protected by Great Business Networking.