So, Why Should I Be LinkedIn?
By Sharon Graham.
When I tell six-figure professionals that LinkedIn has more than 875 million members (edited November 2022) and continues to grow, and that members are found in 200+ countries around the world, I am often asked, “Then, why should I bother? How is anyone going to find me in a membership field of that size?” The best reply is usually another question: “Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn. Shouldn’t you be, too?”
Having said that, there are ways to optimize your presence and harness the power of this online networking tool. It’s a concept not unlike the power of having Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for a business website. Here are some ways you can do that.
- Know your network. LinkedIn is powerful. It searches millions of people to identify ones that you may already know or should know. This may include individuals you may not even know are in your network. When you mouse-over photos of individuals that appear in the “People You May Know” section, numbers show beside their names. 2nd and 3rd level connections are likely there through some organization that you have in common.
- Join groups that matter. Include those that matter to professionals with whom you aspire to connect. The more you engage like-minded people through groups or associations, the more your own network grows. This means it will also enhance the chance that someone looking for someone like you will have your information come up in their listing.
- Don’t block emails coming to you from LinkedIn. While you may see a bit of extra traffic, it is usually miniscule. You need to ensure that every possible advantage is working and that it is easy for recruiters or human resource managers to contact you once they find you on LinkedIn.
- Increase your number of trusted connections. Reach out to those who show as being connected at the 2nd or 3rd level. Explore to learn what you have in common that caused LinkedIn to mark them with those 2s and 3s beside their names. You never know who some of those may know that will open a wonderful opportunity for you.
- Make your profile 100% complete. Although LinkedIn search ‘hits’ do not necessarily reflect the completeness of your profile, the more powerful and dynamic it is the higher you may come in Google searches. Be sure to include a comprehensive keywords list in your LinkedIn specialties, too. Those phrases are often used by recruiters to narrow down the search for potential candidates.
- Ensure that you keep updating your LinkedIn presence. Revisit it frequently to reflect new groups you’ve joined, latest achievements, awards, and any job changes or training you have had. By refreshing it, you keep it ‘live’. A recruiter, who may have shown a bit of interest when your name appeared on their search list last year, may be more intrigued with your latest updates. Never let it get stale.
- Include a professional photo. Many recruiters indicate that they are less likely to read a profile when no photo appears. Perhaps they feel the lack of a picture means someone has something to hide. If you want to get a sense for how important a LinkedIn photo is in the industry you are targeting, do some searches yourself of executives connected to key companies on your list.
- Update your status frequently. Provide a line or two of good information pertaining to what you have learned or can offer to help others. Perhaps include a link to some ground-breaking research or industry breakthrough. If you have a Blog, consider including a link to your latest Blog in that status section.
- Add links to your own website or other e-places. Visual CV, Twitter, or a personal website provides more vehicles for you to present yourself. When you put links from each of them to the others, you are optimizing your chances of being found in various searches. To learn more about this, you may wish to read more about leveraging social networking tools.
- Keep reading the LinkedIn material about others. Should your read an announcement about a person you would one day like to meet, you could send an invitation to connect – augmented by a note congratulating them on their – or the company’s – latest achievement.
I have used these strategies to grow my own LinkedIn presence over the years. They work exceptionally well. If you have other ideas, please share them in the Comments.