February 28, 2014

LinkedIn: More than Your Average Social Media

male and female hands shaking, concept for social internet networkNearly 1 in 4 people in the world have some form of social media. This means that if you are using your social media accounts for professional purposes, they have to stand out. They need to be professional. The recruiter’s most popular social media site is LinkedIn, leading the pack in leaps and bounds with 94 percent of them using the site to find candidates. Take a moment to think about who might be on LinkedIn. Have an idea? Your future boss could be on LinkedIn, so it is vital to create your LinkedIn profile like you’d create a resume. Ninety-two percent of hiring managers look to your LinkedIn account before you walk in the door with your suit and tie, ready for that interview. Here are eight ways to optimize your LinkedIn account:

  1. No one cares about your nickname

LinkedIn is for professional connections; your profile needs to have your professional name. First impressions are everything, and you never know who might see your profile. Put your best foot forward, and represent yourself in a professional manner.

2. No duck faces, please

It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to have a professional picture posted on LinkedIn. No pictures of you and your dog, baby, girlfriend, or favorite baseball cap says Cara Tracy. In the very least, use a picture that is professional enough that you would put it in an application package if asked. Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert for About.com, says the benefits of having a professional picture on your LinkedIn profile are:

  • People you know are more likely to add you if they can recognize you.
  • If you connect with someone on LinkedIn before you meet them, say at a conference or luncheon, they will know who you are in person because of your profile picture.
  • A photo of your face humanizes your profile, making you more approachable.

3. Put some flair in your URL

Customizing your profile URL gives it that little extra something. It gives the impression that you put effort into your professional appearance. For example, linkedin.com/in/marenhogan. It just looks clean cut and professional. Because your digital self is often the first impression people (and potential clients, employers, etc.) see anymore, it is critical that you fine-tune it, just like you would a resume. If you can type your URL in the address bar instead of having to search your profile by name, that’s how you know you’ve got a good address. Sima Dahl says to even put the new URL into your email signature.

4. Who sees your profile?

It is amazing who you can connect with on LinkedIn if you have your industry aligned correctly. Take the time to fill out all of the requested fields. If you have some projects, a SlideShare (owned by LinkedIn) or even a Prezi, post them. Make your profile visually appealing. Keep your profile visually stimulating since 75.8 percent of people search individuals and companies through LinkedIn. It can function as a resume or a portfolio, so dress it accordingly.

5. Don’t be lazy

As with any blogging or social media site, if you plan on being noticed, you have to take the time to be active on the site. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant. It could be as simple as sharing another person’s post or an interesting article you read pertaining to your industry. Make posts often; even ask questions to your network. But don’t make personal posts. LinkedIn is a professional site, let’s keep it that way. If you just don’t know what to post, here are some more suggestions of good Do’s and Don’ts.

6. Get connected

For LinkedIn to work the way it is intended, you have to connect with people. This might even mean connecting with people you don’t know outside the screen, but after joining groups and talking with people you can build some pretty beneficial professional relationships. You can (and should) connect with coworkers, fellow alumni, and other industry professionals. You may love your Auntie Mae, but your LinkedIn account is not the place to show it. Here are some step-by-step instructions to link your Google and LinkedIn accounts.

7. No one wants to jump through hoops

It’s not going to do you any good to have a LinkedIn profile if people can’t contact you. In the very least, have an email in place that you check on a regular basis. With that being said, it is understandable for those who do not want to put their emails on a public site, as they do not want spam or recruiters flooding their already swamped inbox. Stacy Zapar says it’s even a good idea to put your Twitter handle in your LinkedIn profile. It makes it easier to search your profile when typed into Google. And it would make for a good alternative to an email if you don’t want to be flooded with inbox spam.

8. Join groups and publish

“But I’ve already joined LinkedIn. Isn’t that good enough?” No. Hate to break it to you, but you’re missing out on so many great ideas and industry trends. “Joining relevant groups on LinkedIn allows you to extend your personal brand and also reach out to more people as you can contact any group member directly,” says Jorgen Sunberg. You can now publish on LinkedIn, this is a new feature. Everybody now has a platform they can contribute to. John Hall, co-founder and CEO of Influence & Co, gives the benefits of the recent change.

Set up a LinkedIn account; it is one of the easiest ways to build connections with those in your industry. It’s great for networking before events, getting professional questions answered and building your personal brand. Take all of the required steps it asks of you. Upload the profile picture, change your URL, talk to some professionals, and at the very least, learn something from the experience.

Read more in Using LinkedIn

Sarah Duke is a Content Creator at Red Branch Media, a marketing and advertising firm that serves the Human Resources and Recruiting markets. Red Branch Media has grown from a simple consultancy to a full-service B2B marketing agency. Duke brings a history of Public Affairs experience to Red Branch and enjoys writing about the HCM Marketplace.
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