Why should I be using LinkedIn?
LinkedIn isn’t as much a social network as it is a professional network. It’s a worldwide community of professionals networking and sharing knowledge. Maintaining a personal LinkedIn profile helps you develop more meaningful connections with your contacts/colleagues and keep up with what’s happening in the promotional products industry! It is also a great source of information on developing your career skills.
Eight steps to a professional LinkedIn profile:
1. Use a professional headshot. Your headshot is the first impression people will get when they view your profile, make sure it represents you well. Ensure your background is primarily solid or understated and your image features from your torso and upward.
2. Add a background image. This adds a personal touch to your profile. Your background should be cohesive with your profile picture and be a great representation of your work interest. Unsplash is a great website for getting a high-resolution LinkedIn background.
3. Write a creative summary. Keep it professional and authentic, but it’s okay to have a little fun here to express who you are. This is where you can explain what your passions and career goals are and highlight your key accomplishments. Keep it to 3-5 sentences.
4. Add your work experience and education. Add detailed information about your education, your current position, and any past positions you would like to include. Your profile is essentially your virtual resume, so you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to read and contains no errors.
Pro tip: Do not skip LinkedIn Learning courses! If you have downtime and want to learn something new, I highly recommend checking out LinkedIn Learning. They have courses on all things business, marketing, selling, and more! You can earn certifications and badges to display on your LinkedIn profile.
5. Follow groups and companies. Following groups and companies help you keep up with topics that interest you and you can see their posts and updates in your newsfeed.
As companies flood your feed, LinkedIn also will populate your newsfeed with staff members and job openings from that company of interest.
6. Connect with clients and colleagues. The more connections you have, the more you will benefit from LinkedIn. Connecting with your clients also helps you develop and maintain more significant relationships and makes it easier to keep in touch informally.
As you add connections, you may be curious about the degrees next to each name. Here is a categorized breakdown of each of the degree tiers:
LinkedIn 1st Degree- This means you are connected with this person on LinkedIn. They have accepted your invitation to connect or vice versa. You can message, comment, and keep up with their latest post in your newsfeed.
LinkedIn 2nd Degree- This individual is connected to your 1st-degree connection. You can contact this person by InMail or an introduction.
LinkedIn 3rd Degree- This person is connected to your 2nd-degree connection. You can introduce yourself to this person through InMail or an introduction.
Out of Network- These are the LinkedIn members who are out of all of your connections. You can InMail this person. Source: LinkedIn
7. Create a custom profile URL. LinkedIn automatically assigns you a user URL, but you can create a custom URL, so the link is www.linkedin.com/in/yourname versus random letters and numbers. This makes it easy to include on business cards and email signatures.
Pro Tip: Make sure to include your LinkedIn URL on your business cards and website for more traffic to your page!
8. Publish content. Now that you’ve joined groups and connected with colleagues, you can start using LinkedIn to share content with your connections!
Post events, achievements, and company shareables on your page to engage with colleagues and clients! Check out some tips and tricks on our How to Find Content for Social Media webinar to get those creative juices flowing.
At the end of the day, your LinkedIn profile is your brand, and you can use it however you choose to make your mark. What have you seen on LinkedIn that has really made someone’s profile stand out? Or what LinkedIn practices do you wish people would stop? Share your opinions with us in the comments below!
This article has been updated from its previous publication in 2015.