Look at any article about searching for jobs or securing interviews, and you’ll be hard pressed not to find LinkedIn mentioned. With 225 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It is used to build your professional identity online, stay in touch with business colleagues and classmates and discover professional opportunities through industry-related news. If you are currently using LinkedIn, you’ve taken a critical first step. Let’s explore six tips that can help us make the most of LinkedIn.
1- Summary- Who are you?
“Your Summary is your chance to not only say what you’re good at, it’s also your opportunity to stand out from the crowd, to differentiate yourself, in a remarkable and memorable way.” –Andy Foote, LinkedIn Consultant and Strategist
Your personal statement should be exactly what it sounds like, a personal statement. Fill in the blanks of what your resume doesn’t say about you. Showcase your unique personality and style in a quick read for someone to make an accurate first impression of you.
2- Experience/Resume- What have you done?
Don’t have much professional experience? No problem! Share leadership positions in organizations and clubs that you have been a part of, not only after school jobs. Quantify your experience, if someone were asking the question “How good are they?” Use numbers to back up your answer. For example: Instead of putting Editor of the School Newspaper, share Editor of The Scroll, won the 2012 Texas Publication of the Year, led a team of 65 students and distributed to 10,000 community members. You can also upload images and links to your experience to backup your words. But be aware not to share too much, this section should be a quick highlight of your positions, use the other sections on LinkedIn, such as projects and recommendations, to fully explain your professional experience.
3- Skills and Expertise- Where do you shine?
Be honest- don’t say that you have experience in areas where you only know the basics; self reflect on areas that you are truly spectacular at and share those skills. This is a section that you can relate specific skills back to support your resume and leadership experience. In addition, have your connections endorse you. This showcases a credible reputation and gives others confidence that you truly have expertise in the areas you say you do. Lastly, everyone knows how to use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, do not share this as a skill; use this space to share other unique capabilities you have.
4- Projects- How have you applied your skills and expertise?
Share specific projects that you have completed within areas of your resume such as successful events, community service projects, or competitive events. This is the perfect place to fill in the blanks so you don’t overload your reader when they scan your experience section.
5- Recommendations- Are you as good as you say you are?
I believe that this is the most influential feature on LinkedIn, because it shows that others you have done a great job with opportunities in the past. However, it is not always easy to get a recommendation, before you go in for the ask, give a recommendation to someone else, then you are far more likely to get one in return. Be diverse, don’t have eight recommendations from people who worked in the exact same position as you, seek a variety of sources from fellow team members to supervisors to clients. This gives the credibility you did an all-around good job.
6- Connections (Who do you know, who knows you?)
LinkedIn wants you to connect to people who are truly real-life connections. Use this, as a follow-up after meeting with someone you just met, or find areas of similar interest and background to someone you will meet in the future. Although it can be difficult to stay in touch with business connections, LinkedIn is a great way to interact: share articles they would appreciate, send them a message of encouragement or congratulations on a new career change.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool to maintain and engage a professional image online. Reach out to your coworkers, colleagues and classmates, play around with the different features, give a colleague a recommendation, write an inspiring summary, make the most out of LinkedIn and build a great online first impression. I’d love to hear ways you are taking advantage of LinkedIn, and connect with you personally.