Do you know what Linkedin is? Many people think that it is a social networking site for business professionals, a sort of Facebook. However it is a potentially much more powerful tool. Also it is useful for anyone who wants to have some form of online visibility not just in the purely corporate world. There are some claims that over 80% professionals use it but one thing is certain, it is growing. Since the basic system is free anyone can use it to their advantage

However like lots of the other social media systems it is not so much a question of users making mistakes but rather not making the best use of the system

  • The profile is not properly completed. A basic sketchy profile does not do you any favours. Linkedin provides a simple profile completion guide and gives you a percentage completion score. Most can be completed from your CV and I am sure you have a reasonable photograph of yourself that you can upload. Don’t let your ego run away with you, be discreet, remember this is a public forum. I will come back to privacy settings.
  • If you are setting up a profile for a business, company or a group also remember that this reflects on your image. Take this seriously, other people may not share your sense of humour.
  • Most people only start to use Linkedin when they need a new job. Just like your CV keep your Linkedin profile and also your connections current. You never know when you might find them useful. Remember one of the purposes of this social media system is allow other people and organisations to find you.
  • What groups do you belong to? This starts with alumni groups from your educational career. Do you belong to any professional organisations? This does not just mean lawyers and accountants. However it is better to keep this serious and avoid some of the stranger groups that are out there. Trade, industry sector groups, local Chamber of Commerce, software user groups can all prove beneficial.
  • Connections, connections and more connections. This takes time. Some people just collect connections like others collect ‘followers’ on Facebook. Too great a number can be meaningless. Look for quality not quantity. Think in terms of what the connection is? Colleague, ex-colleague, friend from college or grad school, people you do or have done business with, do you even know who some of your connections actually are?
  • Connect with your team. Some employers have a specific policy on this, other less so. Your boss may insist on standardised Linkedin profiles and connections others may need convincing. However once most people see how useful Linkedin can be and how easy it is to setup their own profile they are usually easily convinced to participate.
  • Do you want to share any content? This can range from your original content, a blog post on a technical subject, or a publication in an academic, professional or trade journal. If you are a business owner link your personal profile to your business website. If you are an employee always steer away from proprietary or company confidential matters. However if you for example are involved in a local business group maybe link to that. Always look for ways to show yourself in a positive light.
  • Another frequently overlooked way of sharing content and being noticed is Linkedin answers. This is rather like a forum and over time if you have the relevant specialist knowledge you can gain authority. If you provide answers then these stay as content and may generate contacts even many months afterwards. This is not to be taken as an isolated strategy but as part of a general one to raise your profile. However always remember quality is more important than quantity.
  • Maintain your profile on a regular basis. Answer connection requests and messages. This actually only takes a few minutes a week. Add or make connection requests on a timely basis, otherwise you will forget.
  • Remember to use Linkedin. If you are visiting a potential employer, new customer, client or supplier for example do a search on the organisation and or people you are visiting. It can be very informative. 

Of course there is one other major area to look at, which is probably more than enough for another article in itself, Privacy Settings. Who do you want to see your profile? How much information do you want to put there? Do you want all your connections to be visible to everyone? If you display information such as your personal address, private email address and personal telephone numbers then it is all in the public domain. Think about this carefully. Consider what element of visibility you want to have.

As a business owner or manager think about what sort of company or business profile you want to have. This is all about using social media. Look on Linkedin to see what your competitors are doing, see what leading companies are doing. Also look at what the Linkedin Learning Centre (found under the ‘More’ tab) has to offer. Alternatively buy a book from Amazon.

Hopefully this short guide will give you something to think about how you can use Linkedin to your advantage,