Did you know that LinkedIn has 546 million users (with 146 million in the United States) and everyone has an average of 400 connections?
Here are some statistics to impress your boss.
I joined LinkedIn in February 2007 and I use it as a consumer and teacher. (Random fact: I was once hired after someone browsing comments liked mine.) Through these and other experiences, I’d like to think of myself as an expert on how to use the networking site.
Whether you are on LinkedIn as a job seeker, a job recruiter, or to further your professional development, here are some tips to be successful.
1. Keep your profile updated.
This is most important — as 40% of LinkedIn users visit the site every day.
If I search for your name on Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, your profile link will appear in the top 5 results. If you share a common name like John Smith, you’re in the top 10. Don’t be outdated or inactive. If you don’t use it, delete it.
There is a correlation between the frequency of your updates and the frequency of search engines indexing it. If you never update your profile, your search rank will decrease.
2. Fill your profile with keywords and colorful language.
This is not your resume. Echo those job titles but you should expand on each bullet point, perhaps writing complete sentences or longer paragraphs. Tell your story — why you joined the company, what you did, why you left.
Your headline (the bold-formatted words underneath your name that follows you around the site) should be a description of who you are and not a mirror of your job title. There is a difference between John Smith the Veterinarian Technician and John Smith the Animal Care Specialist. Be the latter.
My current headline says Marketing Communications Pro.
3. Write a summary that supports your experience and education.
This is where your so-called cover letter goes. Write for the world to see.
You are limited to 2,000 words; but most summaries I see are under 200 words. The site enables you to type any character such as wingdings.
The best summaries include a snapshot of why or how the person is using the site (such as my job search), highlights from the past, and contact information.
4. Write in first person, not third.
Unless you introduce yourself in third person at job interviews, cocktail hours, and networking mixers, write your summary and experience sections with first person pronouns.
There are good examples of profiles in third person but I prefer reading about someone in her own words as if she’s describing herself to me on the phone.
5. Upload a current headshot as your photograph.
Ensure your photo is from the past year or two. Don’t display old photos to represent you on LinkedIn. Again, think of that cocktail party and show me the real you. The more professional it looks, the better.
6. Participate in groups.
There are over 2 million LinkedIn groups that you can join to connect with like-minded professionals in your industry.
You are limited to being a member of 50 groups. You can’t join more without leaving others. Though, the average person belongs to 7 groups.
Like everything in life, the more you give, the more you receive. Be a giver.
Note: While groups are not as active in 2018 as they used to be, they’re still useful; and when groups are tightly moderated, they work wonders to bring people together.
7. Be smart about connection requests.
Connect to strangers. Or don’t. It’s up to your strategy for connecting.
One benchmark to use is whether or not you can recommend the person. If you can write a recommendation off the cuff, say yes to the connection; else, ignore that person for someone who you can recommend.
I used to restrict my connections to people I knew, liked, trusted, and respected. My philosophy was if I was connected to someone I didn’t know well, or someone I met at an event and never kept in touch with, I forgot their relevance and couldn’t recommend them.
Over time, I decided to expand connections to weak links.
Say yes to former high school classmates because chances are they are memorable enough in your head to remember them. Say yes to work colleagues. Maybe you know your neighbors, too. You’re always free to say no to a request. Ditto them to you.
You never know who is connected to someone you need to know — and therein lies the LinkedIn objective.
8. Recommend your connections.
Whether your friend is a college classmate, colleague, coworker, etc., there should be a reason you two are connected.
I don’t refer to endorsements — those bobbleheads of people who think you’re a skilled expert.
Recommendations are mini testimonials that others can read why you like and respect your connection. I suggest writing one or two a week, especially if you know that person is looking for a job, writing a book, launching a business, or similar. People will visit that person’s profile, see your recommendation (if your friend approves its publication), and take action.
9. Ask your connections to recommend you.
Some job employers will automatically refuse candidates with less than so many recommendations. Fact is, if you don’t ask you’ll never know.
Keep in mind that some people will reciprocate a recommendation to you if you are proactive and write them one first.
10. Be a person, not a robot.
The mobile app is notorious for enabling you to send a connection request by clicking a button. But if that person doesn’t know why you’re sending a request, you wasted a click.
Nine times out of ten, I reply to people and ask who he or she is and why the person sent me a connection request.
It’s worse when the person doesn’t have an uploaded photo — because I’m a visual person and photos help me remember people I met.
Next time, personalize the message and tell me why you want to add me to your network.
These are my tips. What are yours?
Add a comment below and share with me and other readers.
Here is a link to my LinkedIn profile if you know an organization needing someone with my marketing and communication skills. Thanks.
P.S. I initially wrote this blog post in 2014. I’ve updated it over the years, tweaking this and editing that. Here’s the 2018 version.