LinkedIn is a professional network built around one’s employment capabilities. It is often referred to (I believe somewhat incorrectly) as an online version of your CV or resume. People who use LinkedIn expertly, like Christopher S. Penn, will be the first to say that this service is sorely underrated as a place to develop business, grow your capabilities, and promote your projects and opportunities. Here are some thoughts on amping up your LinkedIn presence.
Write to be Read
The first horror show I see when reading other people’s LinkedIn profiles is that they’re written completely dry, as if robots are the only thing that will read them. Though one should write with robots in mind, this is still a human network, so write as if you want someone to actually read your profile. Here’s the first paragraph of my summary:
I show businesses how to use social media technologies for external community building and outreach, and for internal collaboration. I have over 10 years experience with social media and 16 years experience in enterprise computing environments. I blend emerging tech knowledge with enterprise culture understanding.
You can tell what I do, have a sense of what I’m hoping you want from me, and get a hint at my unique value proposition to businesses on this regard. It’s not the best paragraph ever written, but it’s definitely clear in explaining my core interests.
Make your summary explain, succinctly, why someone would want to tap your shoulder for business. If you’re not sure why, that’s another matter altogether. Read it aloud a few times to see how it sounds.
Make Your Job Descriptions Work Two Ways
I want people who read my profile to see that I’m happily employed, that I work for a “real” company, and that my company has capabilities in certain areas. If you work for yourself, be clear about that, too. There’s no shame in being a solo operator. Just be clear that you’ve chosen to build a profile to signal your professional capabilities, and write it in such a way that people understand where you sit.
Further, make sure that when people read your job description, they are thinking about how to put you to work on their issues. I state my company’s primary functions in the first sentence of my current role, so that people can see what I’m bringing to the table alongside my own personal skills. Thus, my job description states what I’m doing, but also what I can do.
Recommendations are Your Friends
I ask for recommendations all the time. I’m not shy about it. Why? Because I want other people’s words to guide you to choosing me for your business needs. I want you not to have to take my word for it, but instead, to know what others have to say. Don’t be shy about this, but also be very realistic about asking for recommendations.
I will not recommend people whose professional work I’m not familiar with enough to suggest to a close, personal friend. I’m willing to “friend” anyone, but I only recommend people I can vouch for professionally.
LinkedIn has an official opinion on connecting up with others. They recommend that you only connect with people you know well personally. You’re welcome to take their opinion on that.
I’ve chosen to accept with anyone who connects with me, and I’ve only had to drop one person ever for abusing that connection. Why? Because in my view, expanding my network means that you will find the person you need by searching through my network, and that I, at least in theory, can help you get to the person you need for your business efforts.
Your mileage may vary. I will do it my way, as most folks who connect with me eventually come calling to reach someone else that I’ve added, and I feel good every time I can be helpful.
Some Last Thoughts
- Check your contact settings. Be explicit about who you want connecting with you.
- Consider putting up a photo.
- Use the groups features and find groups where you might want to contribute.
- Participate in the Q&A function to share your expertise (it’s like free advertising, when done tastefully).
- Update at least every three months. Your role has changed. Make sure your profile reflects that.
For the bonus round, I recommend staying up to date via LinkedIn’s community superhero, Mario Sundar.
What about you? Any other advice you’d offer to others?
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.