We all know about LinkedIn, but the business networking site still tends to fly under the radar more often than not. These LinkedIn tips and basics will ignite your profile and experience. LinkedIn (LNKD) showed up on the NASDAQ back in May 2011 and currently trades at $171.95. The Mountain View, CA company led by Co-Founder Reid Hoffman, now employs over 3500 and enjoys a 19.67 billion market cap. LinkedIn has fared just a tad better than social media juggernaut Facebook which shares trade under its opening day close.
LinkedIn now has over 259 million users in over 200 countries per their latest 10K quarterly report (9/30/13). LinkedIn is much more than a playground for recruiters. Follow the LinkedIn basics, and spend a few hours a week meeting and engaging with others. You’ll be on your way to a fruitful and gratifying experience.
1. Complete Your Profile
It seems to go without saying, but with so many dropping the ball we must mention. You need to complete your profile. Find a professional photo of yourself and let it fly. I know you have one. The Jane Doe photo doesn’t work online. LinkedIn let’s you know if your profile is not 100% complete. Follow and go complete it today. Let people know you’re human.
2. Make Connections, and Keep Connecting
As with most networks you need connections. There are two schools of thought on connections. Connect with everyone and their sister and leave the filter at home is the first. You’ll undoubtedly see the acronym LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) throughout LinkedIn. If you fall into this camp you’ll accept just about all invitations as you look to build a high number of connections.
The other school of thought is to keep it tight. Only connect with people that you know and have met in person. This keep your account manageable as the numbers will obviously be lower. The drawback of this method is most of your 250 connections will not be active. Arguments can be made for both methods. Whichever you decide, try to stay the course.
3. Customize Your URL
All the good URL’s are already taken. Well, you don’t know if you haven’t tried. You want to start with your own name. If that’s gone, throw in your middle initial. Think how you want to be found in search. Just don’t allow something that looks like this > linked.com/pub/John-Doe/6/8a/bb8/ and that’s what you’ll get if you don’t customize your URL. Take a minute to do it right.
4. Give Solid Recommendations to Others
Recommendations are an important part of your LinkedIn profile. A diverse collection of recommendations from managers, peers, and customers should be the goal. Be proactive and give a recommendations to people that you currently work with or have in the past that have left an impression. Most people will return the gesture if their experience with you was positive.
Recommendations where you’ve had a lengthy business relationship with that person are going to hold more weight. These people should be your focus. Don’t ask people you’ve know on Facebook for four days to give you a recommendation. Yes, people do it, but you shouldn’t.
5. Endorsements, Endorsements, Endorsements
This is the fast food drive-thru of recommendations. If you don’t have the time or desire to sit down and write a well thought out paragraph, then “endorsements” is for you. Endorsements showed up late last year and allows users to plus (+) each other for their skills and expertise. Think of it as a +1 or like. It’s a free for all, but overall more is better. Endorsements are fluffy compared to recommendations, but they are a part of your linkedin profile and 99+ is perceived as more impressive than 3.
Start with people that you’ve worked with and endorse them where you see fit. Then give some love to people you’ve met online where a relationships exists. Showering users with endorsements that you don’t know at all does not really serve a purpose, but unfortunately many do take this route. Treat them as a “pat on the back” to people you respect and appreciate.
6. Take Advantage of the Great Content
LinkedIn has created a hub that delivers great content daily. You follow channels (Technology, Social Media, Marketing Strategies, etc.) and influencers (Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Mark Cuban, etc.) and fresh content shows up daily based on your selections. You’ll find a handful of shareable articles per day.
7. Join Groups and Spend Time in at Least Three Consistently
Groups are a very big part of LinkedIn, but you need to participate. Roll up the sleeves and spend some time participating in the Groups you’ve selected. LinkedIn allows you to join 50 groups. This is way too many. Look to spend time in 2-3 groups on a weekly basis. Get into the habit of posting and commenting. This is how connections are born.
A nice addition to LinkedIn is the improvement when searching for groups to join. So say you search “Social Media” to see what’s out there. LinkedIn will show you the activity level, number of discussions for the month, and how many members. This helps you sift through the thousands of groups available on LinkedIn and helps you make a more informed decision.
8. Optimized Your Search Rankings
This remains one of the weaknesses of LinkedIn. In order to be found in search, at least on the first page of a term, you need to keyword stuff. The search in LinkedIn isn’t quite Google. You’ll see the people that show up first for any keywords you search have that word multiple times in their profile. When I say multiple, it could be over a hundred. These profiles look silly and obviously manipulated, but they’ll show up higher in search than a natural profile. So it’s up to you to decide what route you will take.
It’s a good practice to include relative keywords in your profile. Think of words that would be more niche and less traveled than “business”, “social media”, or “technology”. Those mainstream keywords aren’t worth it as you’ll have to sacrifice your profile.