Back 2 Basics Series

Every day there is more and more clutter out in the world and it is very easy to get distracted and lose focus, so we are continuing our back to basics conversation about how to best leverage LinkedIn. If you missed our live webinar, you can view it below.

LinkedIn History/Purpose

Because this platform can seem intimidating to new users, we want to talk about the basics and create a firm foundation for growth.  As we cover best practices and various elements that make up an engaging presence on LinkedIn, we have to go back to the start.

LinkedIn launched on May 5, 2003 and has quickly become ‘The World’s Largest Professional Network’, connecting business professionals for employment and networking purposes – this is not your mom’s Facebook account. LinkedIn comes equipped with regular job postings related to your profile information and industry updates to keep you aware of current events. LinkedIn is a valuable resource if you use it to the full extent. What does that truly look like? To uncover the All-Star Profile, Connecting with Care, and general best practices, keep reading.

Getting your All-Star Profile

How engaging and informative is your profile? It’s easy to add a selfie and mention a few lines about what you do, but to truly leverage all that LinkedIn has for you as a user, your profile must be detailed and relevant. The All-Star Profile is created when you fill in as many of the given categories that apply to you. The more relevant information you provide about yourself, the more your connections, industry executives, and LinkedIn as a whole will be able to identify with you. The best relationships come from “Oh, you too?” so for this reason, we have broken down how to get your own All-Star Profile and start making valuable connections.

The first, and possibly most important step is to upload a relevant and recent photo. Few people connect with users who have no profile image because it communicates a disconnect and that you aren’t taking the time to invest you or your profile. It also is a visual confirmation to make sure you have the right “John Smith”. Adding a professional photo allows other users to see that you’re a real person, not just some figure on a computer screen and gain familiarity with who you are.

The All-Star Profile makes it clear what your purpose is as a LinkedIn user.  For example, those who are looking to find a job often have their profile display as “John Smith – seeking new opportunities in _______ field” Or those who currently hold a position would write “John Smith – CMO @ Rock Paper Scissors” so that people know who you are and why you may be reaching out to them. This helps those who run across your profile understand what you are seeking as a LinkedIn member and how connecting with you could be beneficial. This can be a little tricky when you are looking for a new position and your current employer does not know, so just be mindful.

The All-Star profile has solid content! To become an All-Star, fill in every category that adds value to your profile, reflects your goals, and accurately represents you as a business professional.

Connecting with Care

Connecting on LinkedIn is not following on Twitter or “friending” on Facebook. It’s important to remember that each connection you pursue should be intentional and beneficial. In the same sense, when individuals invite you to connect with them, truly weighing the costs and benefits of accepting the request is critical. Your online reputation depends on it.

First and most importantly, don’t connect with everybody. Not everyone is going to help you look like the professional and well-connected business person that you are and will add to the value of your connections. Keep in mind, the company you keep impacts the opportunities you receive that will help you make wiser connection decisions.

Don’t send generic Connection messages. LinkedIn was kind enough to provide users with connection message templates. However, you have a much better chance of earning respect and getting a reply when you customize your connection message based on who you’re reaching out to and why.

Lastly, remember why you want to connect. Don’t connect just to connect. If this person doesn’t represent your values, career, ambitions or industry, don’t waste your time adding them. Don’t muddy the waters. There’s no sense in having 200+ connections that add NO value to your “online resume”.

The extra mile of LinkedIn connections can be found in developing Strategic Partnerships. Connect with those that have the potential to become a partner. They might not be a direct lead, but their connections and influence will aid you and them to your next goals. These individuals can act as mentors, business partners, or just someone else to bounce ideas off of as a trusted advisor. These relationships are based on trust, communication, and like-mindedness. These are valuable and worth investing in.

Best Practices

If you post, post well. Quality over quantity is the name of the game when it comes to posting on LinkedIn. Every time you post, you have the opportunity to impact and engage  with someone new. Being conscious of your content, timing, and call to action is imperative. Posts should be business oriented updates. This can be used more loosely depending on the industry in which you reside, but it’s a concept to keep in mind. LinkedIn is designed to be a professional platform and should be regarded as such. Limit personal posts to extremely relevant circumstances.

Second, if you connect, connect with those who will establish your credibility and increase your network. Connecting with your high school sweetheart may seem like a nice thing to do, but if their industry, values, and vision differ from yours, their presence on your LinkedIn does nothing but muddy the waters of credibility. And lastly, Remember your responsibility to represent yourself and your company honorably. We’ve all heard the warning to be careful what you post on the internet because you can never truly delete it. With this in mind, do not let emotions get the best of you or long days cause you to post things that may harm you or your company’s reputation.

Conclusion

It’s important to keep in mind that LinkedIn success, as with all marketing efforts, is a marathon, not a sprint. Much of being successful on LinkedIn is related to your willingness to put adequate time and effort into growing a beneficial network and  establish yourself as an expert.  Give yourself time to grow into a LinkedIn All-Star and develop connections that truly give you an edge in your industry.

Is there a big aspect a LinkedIn still giving you trouble? We would love to answer any questions that we can!

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