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How To Make the Most of LinkedIn

Posted by Kirsten Agnello-Dean on Sep 12, 2017 11:00:00 AM
Kirsten Agnello-Dean

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When you are searching for employment, it makes sense to use multiple resources online, offline, and through personal contacts. LinkedIn is a resource that can work for you 24/7 nonstop once you’ve established a good profile, defined your search criteria, contacts, and information gathering techniques.

LinkedIn Basics

LinkedIn creates a network of your connections and other individuals who are members of common groups. Your connections and memberships determine the number of groups you will turn up in when people are conducting searches.

Basics #1: Make your LinkedIn profile effective

Your profile is essential to creating the professional relationships you need for job success. When you are searching for employment, it’s best to keep your personal and professional profiles separate. You can employ the Job Search Internet Checklist to ensure that employers view only the information that you want them to find.

Basics #2: Build lasting relationships

Finding a potential contact is the first step in generating a relationship. Enlarge your network ability by joining several LinkedIn groups. Next use Advanced Search to locate prospective employers. When you create a search you can return selective results by filtering on industry, location, groups, and relationships. Building a network of industry peers can help you get the wide reach needed to maximize valuable relationships.

At this point you have created a connection request. Once it’s been accepted, your goal is to engage in meaningful communication. Exchanging something of significance can facilitate the process. For example, if you’ve read something valuable you might share that knowledge or a link. Keep track of valuable contact information using the notes and reminder features. "Notes" enable you to write and save information exchanged, which will come in handy for follow-ups. "Reminder" will alert you to get in touch so you don’t overlook maintaining a connection.

Basics #3: Make the most of your message

When connecting with someone new, creating a message directed at each contact individually will gain you the most success. Read their profile and their postings so that your message will be the one they take interest in. Strive to show them how what you do can be of interest to them and get them to welcome your continued communication. To make a solid connection, address your contact by name while using your own. Tell them the reason why you are asking them for a connection.

Today LinkedIn is more of a job search site than a social media site. Its big cash generator is online recruiting, providing over half of its revenue. Fortunately for you, you can enjoy LinkedIn in conjunction with all the other online resources at your disposal. Perhaps the biggest to start with? Publishing on the platform. Want to get the most out of LinkedIn?

Start Self-Publishing

We found this great video by Content Marketer Sujan Patel (watch it on YouTube.com here) full of tips for self-publishing on LinkedIn. This unique platform is a cross between traditional blogging and a social network which provides you with a unique opportunity to reach a large audience.

Haven't tried it yet? You should! According to CIO.com:

If you think about why people are doing this today, it really goes back to their professional identities. It helps them build identities that go beyond their connections … and a lot of these posts have also led to opportunities, which is unique to LinkedIn.

But Wait — who Reads LinkedIn?

CIO magazine cited statistics from 2015, where more than one million users published on the platform. An average of 50,000 articles are added to the platform every week. Typical industries include everything from health care and insurance to marketing to politics. Platform algorithms push content out into the world, and the quality of the content is generally pretty solid. People want to put their best writing out there because LinkedIn is linked to your professional persona.

The truth is that everyone wants to hire a thought leader. For companies building their business, publishing on LinkedIn is a low-cost but effective way to reach your audience while building street credibility. Thought leadership pieces are promotional tools that could really help start a conversation with someone you have been trying to get to know. Along the same lines, it can help you expand your personal network, which is never a bad idea.

Anna Julow Roolf, senior active executive at BLASTmedia, says, "LinkedIn stands out as a self-publishing platform because of its capability to help users showcase expertise to relevant and interested audiences." 

Bonus: The posts come complete with metrics on your readership broken out by industry, job title, and more, which is helpful when trying to determine if you’re targeting the right audience.

So how can you best leverage this unique platform? Here are some tips from Sujan Patel:

1. Do Your Research

Just like writing for a company blog, you want to do your research. What topics are trending and relevant in your industry? Don't just write about what you love, take the time to see what needs to be written in your industry. Patel suggests looking at the "trending" menu on LinkedIn. Look through the most popular, trending posts and then see what gaps are there that you could fill that match up with your specialty.

Also take time to see what style of posts are popular. Look at influencer post styles and mirror them in your own writing, whether it's "how to guides," short and sweet posts, or Buzzfeed "listicle" style ones.

2. Don't Be Unique

When it comes to LinkedIn publishing you don't need to be 100% unique. It's perfectly fine, and recommended, to re-purpose your existing content that has worked for you elsewhere. Don't simply copy and paste former blog posts, but "squeeze more life out of them," says Patel. Try reworking pieces by presenting a different viewpoint or adding new data into them.

3. Post at the Right Time

Mornings rule when it comes to LinkedIn. Patel has had success posting between 8-9am PST. Check your personal blog stats and social media insights to see what time is most popular for your readers — it might vary.

4. Promote

LinkedIn Publishing is all about promotions. Likes and shares will push your content to more people. To gain velocity, optimize your posting to get shares and likes. Ask your fans, friends, and family to like and share your content. Know you'll be posting at 8:45am on Friday?

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As Kirsten Agnello-Dean, Artisan's Social Media Manager and freelance Copywriter/Marketer says: "Likes are nice, but sharing is caring." Regularly share content you find interesting and ask people near and dear to you to share your own content.

 

Other things you can do to self-promote? Send out an email asking your network to view the post and click the like button. This will increase your chances at getting listed on the sidebar.

Speaking of which...

5. Email LinkedIn

Want to get that coveted "popular" spot on the trending list? Patel suggests once your post has picked up some traction to email a link to pitch@linkedin.com with a brief description of why they should feature your post. "Did you bring up an interesting topic? Get a lot of shares in a short amount of time? Brag to LinkedIn and ask them to feature you. Even better? Ask a friend or colleague to do so on your behalf," he says.

6. Add a Call to Action

This last tip is a simple one, but will extend the life of your post. At the bottom, make sure there's a clear call to action (CTA) suggesting what the reader do next. Want them to click over to your website, follow you on Twitter or sign up for your newsletter? The CTA reminds them to do so and helps give your post some ROI.

4 Reasons to Get Started on LinkedIn Pulse

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Not sure if writing on LinkedIn is the way to go? We can think of four good reasons to publish on LinkedIn Pulse:

1. To increase visibility with your target audience

Keep in mind this isn’t Facebook. This is a serious professional audience that isn’t hanging out looking at memes. Connecting with these professionals should be a priority.

2. It’s free

Anyone can publish on this platform for free, which makes for a good bang for the buck. Small business owners always looking for low-cost business development ideas — this is your jam.

3. More visibility than writing your blog

It’s the whole “If a tree falls in the forest” thing. LinkedIn comes with immediate potential visibility.

Instead of writing a fresh blog on your website and then finding an audience, LinkedIn comes ready made for you to share the post in their social network.

4. Build your social media brand image

You can create a post and then join LinkedIn groups that could benefit from the content. Then share your article with the group. Bingo! Instant social network.

Need Inspiration? Here are some of our favorites from Artisan Talent self-publishers:

How to Use LinkedIn for Job Searching

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Looking for a new job? LinkedIn is the place to be! Try these six tips for making the most out of your digital job hunt.

1. Rewrite your headline

Use that blurb of text directly under your name to get a Hiring Manager’s attention. Forbes notes that most people just have their title and company listed there—but it’s just a boring old default setting.

Instead, write a compelling description, complete with SEO-friendly keywords describing what you can do. If you’re a Web Designer it might go something like, “Web designer who turns boring websites into gorgeous money-making machines.” This tells them what you do, and why they urgently need to contact you.


2. Aim for All-Star: Polish Your Profile

Does your profile list you as an all-star?

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Your LinkedIn profile can be so much more than a static online resume—use it to showcase an awesome infographic you designed, your YouTube channel presentations, the digital version of your portfolio—anything that shows, rather than just tells your story.

Optimize your profile for searching by using keywords that will draw prospective employers to you. Keyword placement can be distributed throughout your profile wherever it’s fitting, but make certain that they occur in your title and summary. That way the most essential portions of your profile will show up in searches.

And don’t forget to include a great photo and ask some of your trusted colleagues to post some recommendations for you.

Not sure if your photo is good or not? Keep these tips in mind:

 

  • DO get a professional photo taken
    Yes it costs money, but consider it an investment in your career. Many headshot photographers offer social media packages at reasonable rates.

  • DO choose a photo that looks like you
    Make sure people who online stalk you before you meet know what you look like. Do you wear glasses every day? Then wear them in your photo.

  • DO dress like you're at the office
    The best attire for a LinkedIn photo? What you would normally wear to work. Dress like the profession you're in, or hope to be in. Pick a flattering color and go easy on the accessories, you want your sparkling personality to be the focus of the photo.

  • DO look confident and pleasant
    Think like Entrepreneur.com and ask yourself — if you were looking for a new employee or recruiting a leader for a company, would you hire the person in the photo?

  • DO fill up the frame
    You want the photo focus to be on you. A good rule of thumb is to fill up 60% of the photo with yourself. While it's great that you climbed that mountain or went to the beach, we don't need to see a wide shot with a tiny person in it. Skip complicated backgrounds and fill the frame from the shoulders up.
  • Don't skip posting a photo entirely
    You’re seven times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a photo, says Forbes. Plus, if you don't have one, it looks suspicious. "Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong." A photo also helps differentiate you if you have a common name like "Bob Taylor," as there could be several people with the same name.

  • Don't post a selfie
    Even if it's a not the stereotypical duckface selfie, pictures taken by yourself are usually pretty obvious. If you don't want to pay for professional photos, ask a shutterbug friend to help.

  • Don't include others
    LinkedIn Career Expert Nicole Williams says, "No dog, no husband, no baby." Avoid the faux pas of cropping someone out or including other people or pets in your photos. Connections and recruiters want to instantly know who they're connecting with.

  • Don't use an old photo
    While it's natural to want to use a photo of yourself looking your best, Business Insider points out, "A person might use a photo of themselves from ten years ago. However, once they call you in for an interview, the jig is up. An interviewee might feel slighted due to your bait and switch campaign."

  • Don't use filters
    A LinkedIn photo is not the place for fancy filtered photos or unusual crops. Stick with well-lit, straightforward shots.

3. Track your target companies

Start following a list of companies you’re interested in working for on LinkedIn. Their status updates and other posts will give you insight as to their latest news, products, and possible job rumblings...even potential problems the company may be encountering that you could jump in and help solve!

That’s great research material you can use in your approach to the company when you send in your resume and cover letter, or “Pain Letter” as Ryan suggests—and great intelligence for a potential interview!


4. Network Network Network

Go to the Connections menu and navigate down to “Add Connections.” Use your email address to help LinkedIn find more first-degree connections you may have overlooked in the past. The bigger your first-degree connections list is, the bigger your second-degree connections list becomes, which can lead to further potential connections and opportunities.

5. Ask your connections for Connections

If any of your first-degree connections are linked with people in any of your target companies, ask what they know about the company and the culture, and find out what you can about your potential hiring manager. After all, referrals have been proven to be better hires, and LinkedIn can help you jump over the HR department wall if you have a first-degree connection who is connected to someone in your target company.

Just navigate to your target person and click on the drop-down arrow to the right of the “Connect” button and click “Get Introduced.” Then your first-degree friend can help facilitate that introduction.

6. Tell a Story

Your LinkedIn profile is so much more than a resume. Use it to tell the story of your career, list accomplishments, show off projects.

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Director of Operations for Artisan, Ellen Reda, reminds job seekers to always "know the story of your career and where you want to go."

We like this quote so much we put it on Instagram!

 

Don't forget to make use of your summary section. This is a great place to tell your story — where you've been and where you want to go.

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Speaking of Networks: How to Use Yours

We consider LinkedIn to be one of the most powerful business-related social networking tools ever created. You can:

  • Use LinkedIn to keep you in front of existing clients
  • Use your existing LinkedIn network to introduce you to more connections
  • Find your next job
  • Research the activities of targeted companies
  • Publish your own articles that get viewed by hundreds of individuals and businesses

You can accomplish these impressive feats for free. While LinkedIn has more sophisticated activities available for a fee, this platform allows for robust networking that won’t cost you anything but an investment of your time. Here's how to expand your network:

1. Find Your Connections in Your Contacts

Upload your contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or another email platform. LinkedIn will allow you to send a generic message to each contact inviting them to connect, but instead, we recommend customizing your approach by reaching out individually to these contacts.

2. Listen to Their Suggestions

The platform will immediately begin to suggest ways to expand it by connecting with “people you may know.” We recommend you decide early on what kind of a network you want to build, and follow the rules you establish to build a strong and effective cohort of business connections. Asking to connect with someone you really don’t know is always risky. But what if you review your existing contacts to see whom they know — then ask them for an introduction via email?

3. Organize Your ConTacts

As you’re sorting through all the connections, note that you can also organize your network via tags for location or lead source, as well as other categories.

4. Connect with a Recruiter

If you're looking for new connections, or for a new job, make sure to connect with those friendly Recruiters sending you inmail. They have vast, deep networks, and are always looking to make a match between employers and employees.

Professional Recruiters know industry insider information such as:

  • The latest industry news
  • Where the jobs are and what they pay
  • What your competitors are doing to attract top-tier candidates
  • Who is currently in the marketplace
  • Who is considering a move down the road
  • The strengths and weaknesses of specific candidates and companies
  • Company-specific information like strategic goals and financial growth

No one is more connected to your industry and the work world in general than a recruiter, which makes them a unique and vital resource for both HR Managers and job seeking career professionals. Start with the Artisan team here.

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Final Thoughts

Once you’re set up, we recommend logging in at least once a week (if not more). LinkedIn has all the benefits of a personal social media platform like Facebook, but was strictly designed for the industry professional.

Follow the unwritten rules and keep more personal posts to other platforms, and use LinkedIn in the way it was intended.

Need More LinkedIn Advice?

Sign up for our mini email course! 4 emails jam packed with LinkedIn advice for job seekers, personal branding peeps, and more! Click below to sign up.

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Tags: Marketing + Social Resources, Career Resources

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