I joined LinkedIn in February 2007 — and I have 2,436 connections today.
I’ve seen a lot over the years. I continue to witness people doing things the wrong way. Follow my advice and you will be successful.
10 guidelines to follow
1. Update your profile.
This is most important. If I search for your name on Google, your profile link will appear in the top 5 results. If you share a common name like John Smith, you’re in the top 20 results. The more frequently you update it, the higher it rises.
You *do* want to be found online, right?
That *is* why you are on LinkedIn, right?
2. Fill your profile with colorful language, not drab resume-speak. There is a reason the site is called LinkedIn, not ResumePlace.
Your headline should be a description of who you are and not a mirror of your job title. There is a difference between John Smith the Bank Teller and John Smith the Financial Customer Service Professional. Be the latter.
Change your headline often.
3. Write a summary that is reflective of your experience and education.
If it’s too wordy, you’ll be prevented from writing further. Most summaries I see are too short.
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.
5. Upload a photograph to represent you, and ensure it’s the same photo that you use with your tweets and other social updates.
Keep it current or within the past year. Don’t display old photos to represent you on LinkedIn. Again, think of that cocktail party and show me the real you.
6. Join groups. The more groups you join and participate, the more potential people can learn about you, network with you, and connect to you.
7. Accept requests to connect. Be smart about it.
You don’t have to accept requests from strangers in foreign countries. But if you think you might connect to former high school classmates just because you once had the same teacher — it is the same rationale to connect to people in your industry or geography despite having never met them.
8. Recommend your connections.
Whether that person is a college classmate, a colleague, a coworker, or a blogger you respect, there’s probably a reason you’re connected. Write a few lines as a testimonial for others to read why you like and respect that person.
You can also endorse people.
These are my endorsements.
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.
10. Be a person, not a robot. If you’re not connected to me, send me an invitation request but change the default text so I know why you’re inviting me. Personalize your request.
Grow your network over time
As I elaborate in #7 above, it’s important to grow your network. A stagnant network doesn’t help anyone, least of all your connections who are trying to contact people. My 2,436 first-degree connections will put you (and me) in touch with over 17 million second-degree connections.
Here is a visualization of my network:
Click the image to zoom.
When you click it, you’ll see the legend. I created the map last night. (Disregard the date stamp of 2011. It’s an inactive LinkedIn feature.)
As you can see, the image shows how every connection of mine is 1) connected to me and 2) connected to each other.
Each dot is a name. Influencers are shown by larger dots. It is unsurprising my MBA students are more connected to each other than to others in my network. Or that my Newburyport connections are more connected with each other.
Keep in mind this is *my* network. Their networks and your networks will be different. My interests, skills, and passions intersect New England geography, government, and digital media; and the visualization of my connections prove this.
Insightful, isn’t it?
This sort of visualization was not born overnight.
On a side note, there are 14,000+ LinkedIn users named John Smith and I’m not connected to any of them!
If your name is John Smith, mind sending me a personalized invitation to connect?
It took many years for me to curate and cultivate (and keep in touch with) my connections. Through my headline, summary, first person pronouns, photo, recommendations, etc., relationships were formed.
Are you ready to overhaul your profile?
Any questions for me?