Thursday, May 9, 2013

Six Ways to Shine Like a Diamond on LinkedIn

I feel like I've been living on LinkedIn more often of late. Not only because I enjoy the platform so much, but all the recent changes and developments with LinkedIn have me thinking that being on this platform is more important than ever. 

Whether you're a college student, a post-grad, or have been a working professional for years, it's time to tune into how to make LinkedIn work for you.

My colleague, Kayla Patterson, recently featured a guest post on her blog about why it's important to be on LinkedIn (highly recommend reading this if you haven't already!) and it's inspired me to follow up on that post with some tangible ways to sparkle on the platform - or shine like a diamond, as Rihanna so eloquently phrases things. 

Why? Because as someone who was hired for my position through social media, I understand how hard it can be to walk the line of transparent personality and professional employee. To achieve balance, it takes a lot of practice - as well as a healthy dose of trial and error.

It doesn't matter if you're new to the platform, or already quite experienced, these tips should help add some extra pizzazz to your digital footprint!

1. First Impressions - Profile Picture & Headline

It sounds like a simple thing, but you'd be surprised how many profiles I've come across on LinkedIn without a profile picture or professional headline. When it comes to connecting with people on LinkedIn - from potential employers to colleagues - first impressions are essential. In my experience, I've found that I'm not apt to pay as much attention to profiles without a profile picture or professional headline. If there's nothing there to immediately grab your attention, it makes me think the individual doesn't use the platform often enough, or well enough, for it to even matter connecting online.

If you're still job-seeking, use your professional headline to market what you're interested in. For example, mine used to read "Public Relations Professional Seeking International Education Opportunities." This will immediatly give people (like recruiters!) an idea of your skills and areas of interest.

My summary complete with video and pictures

2. Create a Dynamic Personal Summary

I think this might be my favorite part of LinkedIn. Depending on how you arrange your profile, this area typically appears at the top of the page after your basic contact information. It's an area to showcase your "elevator pitch," or who you are in a nutshell. I suggest when writing this that you keep in mind the question every employer and recruiter is asking themselves: why should I hire you?  

At the same time, you also shouldn't be afraid to show a little personality. Case in point: the summary on my profile is written as a "recipe for success" in which I make mention of my appreciation for time travel and drinking tea. A little silly? Perhaps. But it's also something a lot of people take note of and mention when they find me on LinkedIn.

One of LinkedIn's newer features also allows for linking to online works (videos, pictures, projects, etc) so if you have things to link out to, do so! It will make your whole profile pop with multimedia, and keep people on your page for a longer amount of time.  

3. Beef Up Your Job & Experience Descriptions

LinkedIn is essentially your online resume. While its other offerings and benefits continue to expand (job listings, analytics of how often your profile shows up in search results, etc.) the core of this platform resides in showcasing your talents, skills, and experiences. So why aren't you maximizing its benefits?? Unlike a paper resume, LinkedIn is your chance to expand upon your current and past job functions and experiences. 

Rather than just list your job title, I recommend adding more detail. Describe specific tasks you were responsible for, demonstrate the success of your role with qualitative and quantitative data, and don't forget to be succinct. Whether you opt for a small paragraph or bullet points (my personal favorite), that extra attention to detail can make or break your LinkedIn profile's impact.

If you really want to go above and beyond, you can add "Projects" to your profile which allow you to note specific campaigns and projects you've worked on. Added bonus: you can also tag other LinkedIn users ("team members") you've collaborated with on these projects. Your colleagues will appreciate the LinkedIn love as well ;) 

4. Share Updates 

Thus far, we've been talking a lot about making your profile look and be kickass. Now comes the part where you should be joining the conversations happening on LinkedIn. The area directly below your contact information is called "Activity" and is where all of the updates you share will be showcased. Like Facebook or Twitter, this is a place to share an interesting an article you read, a blog post you wrote, or anything else that resonates with you on a professional level. You can also target who sees this post - LinkedIn in general or just your connections.

LinkedIn now allows you to "tag" people in your updates which I'm totally digging - because not only will my connections see the post, but if I'm posting in relation to a specific person, that person will see it and possibly share it. The result? More engagement with your profile. If you're a Twitter user, you'll also notice that you can include hashtags in these updates AND post to your Twitter account (if it's synced). If you're trying to enhance your digital footprint, you can't ask for more than that!

5. Embrace Social Media

Now that you've enhanced your profile, it's time to get sharing it so that others on the platform will be encouraged to connect with you! If you have a blog or website, make sure to include a link or icon that directs to your profile URL (which you can find in your contact info at the top of the page). I would also suggest linking to it on all your social media communities (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc.) The more eyes that see it, the better. 

Already doing all of these things? Here are a few more ways to utilize social media and attract attention to your LinkedIn profile:
  •  Import your email contacts to see which of your friends/colleagues are already on the platform. LinkedIn makes it easy to do this
  • Guest post for other sites and include the link to your LinkedIn profile in your biography. 
  • Join and contribute to conversations in LinkedIn Groups. There are thousands of groups out there. Get searching for the ones that suit your interests!

6. Give & Receive Recommendations 

As you start contributing to more projects, working with more people, and making a name for yourself, don't be afraid to ask for Recommendations from your connections on LinkedIn. I love that these recommendations are specific to different jobs/experiences, and help to validate the skills and successes noted on your profile. 

If you're going to request recommendations, I would suggest not just simply sending the default message that LinkedIn creates. Show your connections that you value their feedback by adding a personal note about why you want the recommendation, and why you're asking that specific person. Again: the attention to detail matters! Likewise, be sure to return the favor and give them a recommendation as well. You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours is the motto I like to keep in mind ;)

With these six tips, you're sure to be on your way to shining like the brightest of diamonds on LinkedIn! There are many more ways to make LinkedIn work for you, so don't be afraid to email me with questions if you would like to learn more!