My Top 10 Tips for using LinkedIn

Are you using LinkedIn?

If you are you probably know already that it’s a great way to showcase who you are and what you do – and build and maintain a contact network online. If you’re not then it’s probably time you joined in. Either way I’ve put together my top 10 tips for getting the most out of LinkedIn.

Before we start, I believe that it’s important to think of LinkedIn as more than just a networking site – it’s a valuable business tool that I’ve used to help generate business contacts and opportunities, recruit staff, and even find employment myself. It keeps you ‘Linked In’ with your own network of friends, clients, customers, colleagues, employers, employees, business partners and beyond. It can strengthen and extend your existing network of trusted contacts and also show potential customers, employees or business partners what you could do for them.

So without further ado, here are my top ten tips for using LinkedIn

1. Make sure your profile is complete
Your profile is searchable, so if it’s not complete with previous roles, employers or even key skills, people may miss you when they search. LinkedIn will show you whether you have a complete profile – but a profile that’s 100% can still be missing key pieces of information about your skills and experience. Ultimately if an old client searches a company you used to work at you want your profile appear in the results they see.

2. Use a profile photo
An essential part of a complete profile is your photo. In my opinion it’s better to show a photo of yourself than a corporate logo. And don’t be afraid to use a picture that shows some personality. People like to see the face of who they’re doing business with.

3. Make sure your profile is updated regularly
Check your profile content regularly – ideally every week. This may sound a little strange as you don’t normally rewrite your CV every week, but your work life and job role can change. Think of your profile as a shop window for your skills and experience and make sure it reflects the latest and greatest version of your key product – YOU.

4. Update your status regularly
Your status message area is a fantastic tool which many people forget. You can use it to share your latest blog post, highlight new products and services, or just let people know what you’re up to. It’s your chance to get a free message out to your network. And if you use any of the multi network profile applications out there you can even update your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles at the same time. You can also integrate Twitter into your LinkedIn profile – although this does mean that if a high proportion of your LinkedIn network also follow you on Twitter your tweets may become repetitive.

5. Be proactive in building your network
Try to build your LinkedIn network in a similar way that you would build up your contacts book in your working life. When you meet people ask if they use LinkedIn and ask them to connect. Search out previous colleagues, clients and contacts. Don’t just search names, search companies too, and even browse through profiles in your area – you might be surprised at the old contacts you’ll come across.

6. Make it easy for others to find you
I’ve already highlighted the importance of having a complete and up to date profile to maximise your visibility in LinkedIn searches. But you should also show people that you’re on LinkedIn at every opportunity. Use your LinkedIn profile link on your website, emails, in forums and on social media sites, on your blog and maybe even your business cards. Try googling your name – there’s a good chance your LinkedIn profile will show near the top of the first page.

7. Think about the quality of your network
Whilst it’s important to build your network proactively, don’t substitute quantity for quality. Showing you’ve got thousands of connections on LinkedIn doesn’t make you more professional than someone who only has 25 connections. In fact if those 25 connections are all people who are willing to personally recommend you then that is arguably more valuable. Try to build your LinkedIn network in a similar way that you would build up your contacts book in your working life. When you meet people ask if they use LinkedIn and ask them to connect. And don’t be afraid to reject invitations or disconnect from people you don’t know or you believe have suspect motives.

8. Ask for recommendations
Ask for recommendations from previous colleagues, clients, friends and other relevant contacts. But don’t just send the standard LinkedIn request out to loads of contacts. Instead include a personal message outlining why you’d like a recommendation and offer to reciprocate where appropriate. You can also proactively recommend people in your network who may choose to return the favour. And don’t be afraid to ask your connections for introductions.

9. Join groups and answer questions
There are thousands of LinkedIn Groups which can be community or interest based. Seek out some groups that you believe are relevant to you, join these groups and get involved. Answering peoples questions will not only raise your ‘expert’ level on LinkedIn but show potential clients and partners that you are able to share information, that you know what you are talking about and are willing to help others. Even if you don’t have time to join discussions or answer questions it will extend your potential connection base and with clever use of LinkedIn’s search function, help you to find relevant contacts in your industry sector and/or geographical area.

10. Company pages
If you own your own company or are the spokesperson for your company then make sure you add a company page to LinkedIn. And remember to apply the same principles to your company page as your personal page.

Finally here’s a bonus tip: Keep in touch!
Add LinkedIn as a homepage tab that you can check on each time you go online. Take a look at what’s happening in your network. Check out who’s looked at your profile (even though this is fairly limited). And use LinkedIn’s mobile site

Remember what you put in to using LinkedIn will directly affect what you get out of it. So be prepared to invest a little time and effort.

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