Our personal sides have all been satisfied through social networking. We have a place to gush about our lives and stay in touch with all our friends, near or far. The image we maintain on networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others depict what we do on our day to day lives and gives our viewers/followers an idea of how we are on a personal level. That being said, how much of our lives do we want to share with our colleagues/bosses? Then comes the saying, “don’t mix your personal and professional life”. At one point, we find ourselves not knowing where to boast about our professional accomplishments…and this is when LinkedIn comes into play.
LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool developed in the year of 2003 by Reid Hoffman and is currently headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, USA. It is primarily used as a job searching tool, maintaining an online resume, and professional networking. Otherwise known as the professional version of Facebook. What started off small has now become the world’s biggest professional network. Both employers and employees find it useful to look for potential candidates/jobs. It is now available for download on any mobile device which makes it that much easier to use.
Creating a strong presence in the LinkedIn environment is key to maximizing the most out of your experience in it. There are a few pointers which can be followed to develop your network and knowledge.
1. The Profile
As with any social networking platform, you will be required to create an account and provide basic details such as your name, age, gender, and e-mail. Your profile is supposed to reflect you and your professional accomplishments, or in other words, an online resume. In this, you will have to fill out sections such as:
When filling out the experience section, share the positions you have held and currently hold as well as the responsibilities and tasks demanded. Mention the name of the agency worked for, your position there, and the amount of time you served. As LinkedIn does not bound you to pages or words, go deep into each position and describe them in detail. As this is an online resume, there is the added advantage of inserting multimedia in the form of documents, SlideShare links, blogging links, and more.
The summary section is the place you get to describe yourself with a more personal touch. Your summary can incorporate strengths, goals, opinions, accomplishments, as well as aims. It’s almost like narrating a little about yourself in short. If you are open to recruiters or are looking for jobs of a specific nature, the summary is the place to mention it as recruiters are commonly known to read this before proceeding with the rest of your profile. With this said, an impactful summary is the hot ticket to securing jobs or opportunities.
- Volunteer Experience
This is the section to let your softer side emerge. If you happen to have been involved in any social services, campaigns, or volunteer organizations, this is the place to list them.
Won ‘Leader of the Year’ at your last firm? The accomplishment section is the place to boast about your certifications and awards of recognition. These can be in the form of research papers, awards, certificates, linguistic acknowledgements and more.
Simply put, the headline is where you mention your current occupation as a student or your current job description. For example, if you work at an international affairs office, your headline will read: International Affairs Analyst. However, your headline can also include your undertaking passion for a certain issue as well. Be sure to sell yourself on the headline. An example of an optimized headline would be, ‘International Affairs Analyst – Raising Awareness for World Peace – Creating Strategic Partnerships’.
Your education section is fairly self-explanatory as you will be writing out the various educational institutions you have studied from to earn degrees/certificates. Again, include the duration as well as the location studied at.
- Skills and Endorsements
LinkedIn allows for users to list out their skills, be it soft or technical – it lets you list them out as well as get endorsed for them! If you have people to vouch for your skills, go ahead and request an endorsement. By gaining endorsements, you become acknowledged for the skills which have the most. One of the best ways to gain these is by endorsing someone for their strength and then getting them to endorse you back – give and take.
Now that you have portrayed your professional self on the site, tie up some loose ends by re-framing your URL to something which can be easily remembered or reflects you (name). The sections can be rearranged in a way that amplifies your significance in the field.
2. Home Feed
Although we may all be familiar with scrolling down our Instagram feeds to find out what so and so may have done over the weekend, it is also important to tune into what the business side of your friends/world are up to. The moment you log into LinkedIn, the feed is what appears. Posts will have the options to like, comment, as well as share them. The home feed will consist of new content posted by the pages or individuals you have personally followed. Apart from these, there will be headings with content such as:
- Sponsored Content
This works on the basis of affiliate marketing where companies build businesses with each other by promoting or raising awareness for another companies cause. You will not be bombarded with random content but rather content which a company you have followed is sponsoring.
- Recommended Content
A popular article which spoke volume to many on the platform may have struck an eye on the rankings. This makes it come across on your feed if many people have liked the post. Similarly, if any of your connections on LinkedIn have liked a certain article or commented on it, this will appear as well. According to your searches and followings, recommended content will be presented to maximize the most of your interests.
- Mentioned in the News
As you may have followed many company pages or figures, you will be getting updates regarding them directly from the news. It need not be that the company has shared it from their official page. Labels are what bring this to your feed. If you have followed ‘Google’ on LinkedIn, your feed will be updated with respective news when that label is seen.
With this being said, you always have the liberty to customize your feed by unfollowing, hiding, or reporting a page if you find it of no use to you. You can also improve your feed by adding other companies that you may want to follow.
Just like any other social networking site, LinkedIn has a notification tab as well. However, what you are notified about is definitely different. The many types of notifications that an average LinkedIn user can receive is with regards to:
- Invitations and messages
- Updates about your connections
- Updates about pages you follow
- Group updates
- People who have viewed you profile
- If a connection has started a new position
- Birthdays of connections
If you find many of the notifications to be of no use to you, you can manage them in the ‘notifications settings’ section. Turn notifications on or off according to your usage. It is important to stay engaged with the latest happenings on LinkedIn and therefore checking into the notifications tab enables you to do such.
Instead of sending out friend requests, you will be connecting with other people. Each time you send out a request, you will be ‘connecting’ with them. Connections may be of first, second, or third-degree contacts. A first-degree connection is one who is directly connected to you. Second degree meaning that the individual is connected with one of your first-degree contacts but not you. Likewise, for third degree – when an individual is connected to one of your second-degree contacts. Connections can be colleagues, classmates, alumni, people on similar groups, and so on.
One of the key elements in building a strong LinkedIn presence is growing your connections. If you are to excel in your career, it is expected that you would have built relationships with many professionals. So even if you have a twenty-five plus year experience in the industry but only twenty connections on LinkedIn, it could be a mal-indicator for many. More connections imply more business relationships. LinkedIn does not show the number of connections once you have exceeded 500 (depicted as 500+ for anything greater) therefore it can be taken as LinkedIn’s lucky number. The general rule of thumb is that you should have ten times as many connections as your age. Instead of seeking a quantitative value, build connections to gain and enhance the amount of opportunities you have.
It is also important to be aware that there may be ‘LinkedIn LION’s (LinkedIn Open Networkers)’ roaming out there. These are people who send out connection requests just to exponentially raise the amount of connections they have. Take note on who your connecting with and be sure to focus on building connections of good value. If you find someone to be troublesome or spam, you always have the option of blocking, unfollowing, or reporting as spam.
In order to join a group, you must either be invited by the admin or if it’s a public group, you can join on your own. Private groups on the other hand need you to get an invitation from the admin of the group prior to gaining access. Joining groups is important as it helps you expand your connections as well as your own knowledge. The groups which you have been included in will appear on the left side under your profile picture. Seeing as to how LinkedIn serves as a virtual business moderator, groups can also be assimilated to meeting rooms. Groups on LinkedIn are where people who share the same interests or areas of expertise come together and discuss/share content on that particular topic. The connections within a group can also be added to your personal LinkedIn page to grow your connections as well. If you are seeking to join a group on content writing, you can type that in the search bar at the top and join one of the groups based on the description provided.
Once you have been accepted into a group, don’t sit back and be idle. Answer questions, share your knowledge via articles, and build connections to get the most out of your experience there. You can also start your own group and add people in it and start your own discussion or knowledge sharing base. However, if you find that a group you belong to is purely spam, you can leave it at any point.
To sum it all up, LinkedIn is an ever-growing application. The entire professional world is at the tip of your fingers. By knowing about the features of LinkedIn, you will be able to make the most out of your profile and tweak it to your advantage.