On one level, merely keeping up with LinkedIn is frustrating: It takes time to navigate the interface updates and feature changes, maintain a current profile, and sort through the lingering invitations to connect.
For all its faults and frustrations, though, LinkedIn remains the top social network for professionals – and it’s not just job seekers who benefit from cultivating a presence, says Sandra Long, author of "LinkedIn for Personal Branding: The Ultimate Guide."
If you are building your brand as an IT executive, you can’t ignore LinkedIn.
“Candidates, colleagues, and industry leaders are researching senior executives on LinkedIn every day,” Long says. “Any senior leader who is interviewing, partnering, mentoring, and attending or speaking at conferences needs to create the right online impression to match their personal brand and values.”
[ Are your social manners lacking? See our related story, 6 LinkedIn etiquette mistakes IT leaders hate. ]
If using LinkedIn has you down, don’t give up just yet. These five tips will help you take your experience beyond the basics and derive more value from the social network.
1. Rethink your professional headline
Your headline is the text that appears below your name on your profile. Unless you opt to customize it, LinkedIn will autofill this section with the most-current position from your profile.
Your professional headline also appears below your name when you show up in LinkedIn searches. For that reason, it’s the most important part of your profile – one that many LinkedIn users overlook, says Melonie Dodaro, author of "LinkedIn Unlocked."
“You don’t want your headline to just read, ‘CIO at company name,’” she says. “Instead, you also want to include details that lend you credibility.”
- To start, brainstorm the keyword searches you want to appear in; these might include words and phrases such as “strategic,” “technology leader,” and the industry you currently work in, for example. Keep it short, too – headlines have a 120-character limit.
- To edit your professional headline, click the Me icon at the top of your homepage, select View profile, then click the Edit icon on your introduction card. In the pop-up window, enter your changes in the Headline field, then click Save.
2. Add new work samples
Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to be a boring blur of text. One way to make it more visually interesting while distinguishing yourself from others is by adding media samples.
LinkedIn supports a number of formats, including external documents, photos, websites, videos, and presentations.
“Many senior leaders have been interviewed or featured on YouTube by their companies for specific projects. Consider adding [these videos] to your profile, or uploading presentations to LinkedIn via SlideShare,” Long says. “If you are a conference speaker, this is a great way to share your deck and extend the value of your content.”
- To add media to your profile, click the Me icon at the top of your page, then select View profile from the drop-down menu. Click the Edit icon at the top of your profile to the right of your picture, and under Media select either Upload to add a media sample from your computer or Link to add it via a website. Edit the title and description as needed, click Apply, then Save.
3. Experiment with native video
Last year, the company launched LinkedIn Video, a built-in tool that lets you upload vlogs and other clips to showcase your professional thoughts and experiences directly to the social network. Much like presentations and photos on your profile, these videos can give people greater insight into who you are as a professional, Long says.
- This feature is available in LinkedIn’s iOS and Android apps. To record or upload a video, tap the video button next to the status update box.
- After you post a video, you can view audience insights such as the top companies, titles, and locations of your viewers, plus how many views, likes, and comments your videos received.
4. Better optimize your profile for search
LinkedIn uses proprietary algorithms to order the results users see when searching for people on the site, it says. LinkedIn determines relevance based on a number of factors, including your profile’s content.
“There are many important things to do to optimize a LinkedIn profile to be found via search,” Long says. “Some of the most-critical elements include uploading a headshot, using a keyword-rich headline and summary, including your industry and geography, generating a custom URL, completing three or more entries under your Experience section, and completing your Education and Skills sections.”
Optimizing your profile is important for a variety of reasons, Dodaro adds. You want others to find you via search not only if you’re in the market for a new job, but also if you’re interested in landing more speaking opportunities.
- Make sure your profile includes sensible, related keywords to boost your LinkedIn search relevancy.
- Don't go too far. LinkedIn warns that users shouldn’t try to game the system: “If you integrate an extended list of keywords into your profile, it’s likely that your profile will be filtered out by our spam detection algorithms, which will negatively impact your appearance in search results."
5. Engage more with others
One way to up your networking ante is by engaging with other people’s content, Long says. This includes liking and commenting on content that appears in your feed and participating in LinkedIn Groups, for example.
“Engaging with other people’s strategic content is a great way to learn and network with your industry,” she says. “The side benefit is increased visibility as you post, comment, or like specific content.”
Conversely, consider publishing your own content inspired by your professional expertise, experiences, and anecdotes. They could be as short and simple as sharing an interesting article, image, or video with your network, or writing your own post – all of which can be done at the top of your feed.
To reach more people, LinkedIn recommends directly mentioning a user when appropriate, asking for responses and feedback, adding hashtags, and replying to users who comment on your posts.
“It’s important to remember that your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand,” Dodaro says. “Think about the message you want to convey and the first impression you want to give. [LinkedIn is] where people go to learn more about who you are.”
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