LinkedIn is the premier social networking site for professionals, providing the potential for thousands of connections, participation in industry-focused groups and, in general, serving as a source of information, development and new opportunities for millions of professionals.
Passive use of the site won’t present much value to you, save for the occasional notifications about work anniversaries, colleagues getting new jobs and birthdays.
Experts are unanimous in their belief that LinkedIn can be a platform you can use to build connections, practice professional development and find opportunities for new jobs. Knowing how to build a good profile and then use that profile to immerse yourself in the best parts of the site can be overwhelming, but the tips we provide in this two-part series will help you.
#1 Your Photo Matters
Because LinkedIn is a professional community, you want to present yourself as a professional. This doesn’t mean that you have to wear a suit and tie to impress. However, it does mean that you need a high-quality photo and not a cropped thumbnail of an off-the-cuff social media photo, says Dan Clay, a former LinkedIn employee and author of “How to Write the Perfect Resume.”
“I cringe when I see photos that were obviously cropped from a college frat party ten years ago–you’re better than that,” Clay told us. “Investing in professional headshots for your LinkedIn profile may seem like overkill, but it can go a long way towards building credibility with your network and potential employers.”
We heard the same advice from Preeti Adhikary, vice president of marketing at Fusemachines, Inc.
“Invest in a recent, professional photograph,” she told us. “It makes all the difference.”
#2 Don’t Treat it Like Facebook
If Facebook is the platform on which you share photos of your life, engage in discussions with friends and dip your ideological toe into the occasional volatile political discussion, then LinkedIn is the exact opposite, said resume expert and founder of Recruiter Written Alex Benjamin.
“One hot-headed or inappropriate comment, picture, or post can damage your reputation. Consider who will be viewing your profile, including current connections and other industry professionals who may have an interest in networking,” Benjamin said. “Before you update your profile, post an article, comment/like a post, or share content, take a couple of seconds to ask yourself if your actions are representing your brand. LinkedIn is not a place to vent your frustrations or promote controversial content.”
In other words, Benjamin recommends keeping your content encouraging and positive. Find interesting articles from your industry and post them. Add insight that reflects your knowledge and understanding of the subject. Thank colleagues for interest material they post.
#3 Have a Thorough Resume Section That Matches Your CV
The barrier to entry on LinkedIn is time and effort. It can be a bit of a tedious process to build a profile from scratch, adding in all your jobs and writing descriptions for each of them. However, says Monica Mizzi, an SEO strategist, all that effort pays off.
She’s received multiple job offers from companies who viewed her profile and were impressed. The key, she said, is to put in the time to build a complete and detailed profile.
“If you see my profile, you’ll see that it is packed with information. This is quite rare from what I’ve observed, as most people just fill out their work history,” she said. “But, really, they should be attaching examples of their work, highlighting any charity work they’ve been doing and getting recommendations.”
As you’re adding your work history, make sure it is both thorough and accurate. Benjamin told us that inaccurate information on your LinkedIn profile could be treated by a potential employer the same way they would treat an inaccurate resume.
“Remember, your profile is public and represents your professional brand. A poor or misleading profile is a turnoff to employers and other networkers,” he said. “If in doubt, if you wouldn’t put it on your resume, don’t put it on LinkedIn.”
Professionalism is the Key
Our experts were united in their belief that your LinkedIn profile needs to be professional. It’s a version of an elevator pitch that’s meant to impress visitors and express who you are, what you’re about and why you’re qualified to do what you do.
Therefore, make sure you take great care in crafting an excellent profile. Devote a couple of hours to reading over it, making corrections and, if need be, uploading a better photo.