How to get started on LinkedIn
Why you need it!
One of the first steps of setting up your LinkedIn is realizing why you need it. In this day of social selling and social networks, employers do a search online to find out more about you before contacting you. “In fact, about 57% of the decision to do business with you has already been made before prospects get in touch with you” (Verdonck, 2017, para. 2). LinkedIn can provide potential employers a way to find you online and learn more about you. With an established profile that connects with other LinkedIn users and contributes content, it showcases that you have a presence and are willing to participate in the community. With an engaging LinkedIn page that provides valuable content to your network, it shows credibility and provides employers with more assurance based on your position in your industry.
If you have a name that is commonly misspelled it is an excellent tool to include variations and alternatives of your name so search engines can still find you. This doesn’t have to be front page and center but should be included somewhere on your page.
This may look like this for example:
Common mistakes regarding my name Chris Ward: Kris, Kriss, Cris, & Christopher (Given Name), Christie, Christofel, Christoffer, Wardo, Wards, Award, Wart, Warde, War,
By having all of these listed it will still allow those who have misspelled my name to find me on LinkedIn and search engines.
Choosing your profile picture
- Make it professional, avoid photos including drinks and vacation photos.
- Use a headshot, make your face the main subject of your profile picture.
- Relax and smile, the more engaging the better.
- Consider using a solid or slightly branded background.
- Keep your photo up to date.
- Add a background photo that reinforces the brand you represent.
“LinkedIn’s blog claims that a profile with a photo is 11 times more likely to be viewed” (Verdonck, 2017, para. 8).
Upgrading your LinkedIn professional headline
Your professional headline shouldn’t just be the same title that is on your business card. By simplifying your headline it groups you into a much larger pool of candidates and makes it a lot harder to get noticed. It is important to be unique in your headline, this is how you get noticed. Adding something personal that other people can relate to is a great conversation starter. By searching golf professionals on LinkedIn it showed more than 40,000 results with the majority of headlines reading “Assistant Golf Professional” and “Head Golf Professional” by adding “retail manager” to the same search it immediately narrowed the results to just over 400. Just by simply adding one more role to your headline it immediately narrowed down the search by nearly 100%.
Adding your location and industry
For those looking for jobs and to connect with people near their current employer, it is best to enter the postal code of your current work location. If you are looking for a position elsewhere or closer to home, for example, you should use that postal code. LinkedIn generally uses a 50km radius from your provided address to find connections. When setting your industry it is important to select the correct one, if you have any doubts about a current selection talk to other coworkers to help determine this.
How do you want to be contacted?
It is important for those looking at your profile to have the opportunity of taking the next step and contacting you. The four methods that LinkedIn users have for contacting you are your phone, email, instant messenger, and address (usually your business address). When determining what numbers and address to include it is important to look at who your target audience is and know where they would most likely want to contact you. Also, make sure your email connected to LinkedIn is a professional one and avoid using your Hotmail accounts from grade school in this section.
Another great tool for your profile is adding external websites and other account links for your connections. This is a fantastic spot to add your business website and business twitter account. It is best to avoid adding your personal twitter if you share anything that you want to be kept disassociated from your business profile.
Writing your summary
To increase the readability of this section it is important to entice the reader to read on by starting with a short lead-in. After this, align the next section with corporate branding and have some information about the current organization you are apart of, the goal of this section is to give a summary of what your organization does. After this section add some more specific information of what your responsibilities are in your current role. By sharing this information it provides the reader with insight on some of your successful roles within your organization.
If your organization has video content that can help summarize themselves in a more visual format it is a great thing to link to your summary. Other relevant PDF or image files can be useful in this section to help increase the appearance of your page.
Presenting Your Experience
When completing the experience section of your LinkedIn page you must focus more on your results from previous jobs rather than simply presenting your resume. Similar to the personal summary section of your profile it is effective to begin your job summary with some corporate branding summarizing the organization. After this is presented the reader can further understand your responsibilities and roles within that organization because of the background information provided. After all of this presented it is important to provide a call to action for the reader, this will let them know what to do next, even for previous roles it is good to share a call to action so your previous employers can utilize your page as a tool. Adding rich visual media can also further engage the reader and utilizing LinkedIn’s SlideShare to help summarize a past project or job role is a fantastic way of boosting the visual appeal of your page.
Creating Your Brand
Make the most out of awards and professional honors relevant to your industry by adding them to your LinkedIn page. By doing this it showcases “the level of competency you bring” (Verdonck, 2017, para. 2). If you commonly find yourself heading projects for work and are proud of your current and past project successes, adding projects is a great way to share some specific details about your responsibilities.
LinkedIn is one of the least utilized platforms for publishing content. By publishing industry-relevant topics in your area of expertise it can be a great way to get your name and ideas out to your network and your connections networks. When writing on LinkedIn it is best to use your normal speaking voice because it will increase authenticity and readability. Your title and cover photo for your content should grab the readers attention immediately. Your published content should include examples and figures to reinforce your points and should fall between 300-500 words in total. The best days to publish content are on Thursdays and Sundays due to most peoples work schedules and the more consistent you are on posting regularly, the more of following you can gain.
Showcasing your skills & getting recommendations
The first step in adding skills to your page is finding what is relevant for your target audience. Try to include as many that you believe that your target audience will find valuable, plan to exclude the remainder that doesn’t have a relevance to your target audience. Your skills section should be a quick way for a reader to see what you can do and to help establish a great first impression of you.
The more believable skills that you share in this section the more likely your connections will endorse you for these skills. It doesn’t look good to have an overwhelming number of skills without a single endorsement to back your claims up.
LinkedIn also has an area on your page for posting recommendations, think of this section as a consumer review like the ones you would find on Amazon for a product. You are way more likely to purchase or in this case hire someone who has great reviews and recommendations. Shoot for getting 5-7 recommendations, with these recommendations make sure they include detail and are not simply “Chris is a nice guy and a good golfer” look for recommendations that give insight to how great you are at your job.
Sharing your educational background
Some of the key things to remember when sharing your educational background are that the more detail the better, look to share information about activities and societies you participated in and give a brief description of the program or why you decided to take this program. Sharing your grade in the given section is a great way to show your dedication to the school. If your grade is worth sharing share it, if it isn’t worth sharing just leave the section blank. It is also very important to share the years you attended so you can connect with others from the same graduation class.
When sharing certifications and courses to your page it shows your continued desire to learn and willingness to further your knowledge in your industry. It is best to keep these certifications as relevant to your industry as possible, there is no need to share your Game of Thrones History course on your profile if you work in the golf industry for example.
Show off your personality
“Too many LinkedIn profiles are dry and just too professional, leaving no room for your personal touch” (Verdonck, 2017, para. 3). On LinkedIn trainer Bert Verdonck’s page, you will find in his main headline “Happy Chocoholic” this is an excellent example of showing off his personality and should be included in more LinkedIn profiles. Happy Chocoholic resembles Bert being human and works as a great conversation starter for those reaching out to Bert for the first time.
Choose to share other things you’re passionate about further down your page, possibly at the end of the summary section of your page by including a “Get to know me?” section.
Other skills to help you stand out
- Add volunteer work to boost engagement
- Maximize keywords on your profile to perform better in search engines
- Engage with others using LinkedIn groups
- Only do this once you have updated your page with the tips provided earlier in this post.
- Follow the leaders most influential to your career
- Share articles from leaders in your industry to show that you’re staying up to date and trying adding a post above the shared article like “Great Article! I cannot agree more with..”
- Control your visibility using privacy settings
- Enable your profile name and photo to appear after viewing other pages because it will usually lead to them going back to yours
- Notify connections when you’re in the news because it will only lead to more of the right kind of visitors seeing your page
- Use the LinkedIn mobile app for on the go networking and searching
(Verdonck, 2017, sec. 9)
My LinkedIn page transformation and how it can benefit you!
Before completing Bert Verdonck’s course “LinkedIn Profiles for Social Business Success” my LinkedIn Page was more of a resume than results from my work in the golf industry. My page included a headshot profile picture, an extremely general professional headline, and a summary of schooling and work experience that lacked personality and readability. It listed work and educational experience without explanation and was missing key information on how I can be contacted. Below are a few photos of my profile before completing the course.
After finishing the course I have added some key things to my LinkedIn page like a background picture and a more detailed and unique professional headline. I have completely redone my summary portion of my LinkedIn to include corporate branding from the PGA of Alberta, professional branding For The Edmonton Petroleum Golf & Country Club, and personal branding for my role there including a call to action to learn more about me on my website. I have added more information to my educational and work experience backgrounds and have reached out for help with my endorsements and recommendations to further develop my page and credibility.
- By adding a background image and rich media to my experiences it has instantly improved the visual appeal of my LinkedIn page.
- My updated professional headline has narrowed the search results for me by over 100% so it will be much easier to be noticed.
- Adding descriptions to my past experiences has added credibility and insight to my past and current experiences.
- By adding past activities and societies that I was apart of it showcases my leadership qualities.
- Updating contact info to provide more ways to contact me and find out more about me.
- Updated summary increases the readability for readers to get a quick summary of what I’m about.
- Updating my LinkedIn URL to a vanity URL that is much easier to remember and find in search engines.
Verdonck, B. (2017, January 30th). LinkedIn Profiles for Social Business Success [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.lynda.com/LinkedIn-tutorials/Create-action-plan-update-your-profile/512777/581611-4.html