While we are always told as job seekers and business owners to cultivate a strong and integrated social media profile, a lack of meaningful metrics make it difficult to understand whether or not our efforts have been successful. This task is made even harder by the sheer volume of social media outlets now available, as each has their own specific benefits and unique purposes for users.
Some offer more value than others in the commercial world, however, with LinkedIn arguably the most effective networking tool for professionals. It is also one of the most productive, with recent reports suggesting that the social media jobs platform could add a staggering $2.7 trillion to the global economy. It may even benefit up to 540 million members by the year 2025 and increase global employment by 72 million full-time positions.
To capitalize on LinkedIn’s growing influence as a professional networking tool, you will need to optimize your presence and create a profile that captivates employers or potential partners. Here are 10 simple and time-effective ways in which you can achieve this as an existing user:
1. Import your existing email contacts
No matter how long you have been using LinkedIn, you are likely to have an older email account that includes the details or previous employers, colleagues and freelance collaborators across multiple industries. Your email is therefore an invaluable source of information that can provide the foundation for successful networking, and LinkedIn allows you to benefit from this by seamlessly importing your contacts and searching for them on the site. This process is automated and takes a matter of moments, while it can boost your number of meaningful connections considerably.
2. Update your profile regularly to reflect your existing status
It is a cardinal sin to neglect your LinkedIn profile page, as this is the first resource that new and existing contacts will see when they search your name. You must therefore be proactive and regularly update your profile where necessary, ensuring that your work portfolio and existing skill-sets are accurately represented at all times. This is particularly important in evolutionary market sectors such as marketing and computer programming, where the requisite skills and training requirements are constantly been updated. By constantly realigning your profile to suit the market, you will remain in demand and in the forefront of employers minds’.
3. Ask your colleagues to leave recommendations and endorsements
The traditional letter of recommendation can make or break a job application, and LinkedIn have a unique feature that enables members to endorse each other’s work within specific job roles and organisations. While some may be loath to ask initially, these recommendations can add credibility to your profile and reinforce both current and future applications. The same can also be said for the websites Skills and Endorsements section, where members champion the skills of others on the basis of previous collaborations. There is strong evidence to suggest that those with a higher number of endorsements will rank more favourably in LinkedIn search results, so it is important to interact with others and share recommendations.
4. Use existing video testimonials to reinforce your quality of work
The video upload feature on LinkedIn’s profile pages are criminally underused, especially by sole traders or small business owners with a strong, existing consumer base. After all, the vast majority of profile pages look the same, so the use of video can help to distinguish your brand or service even in a competitive market sector. Perhaps the best use of this resource is to record and upload genuine customer or client testimonials’, which are known to increase sale conversion rates across multiple platforms. In this respect, you can use LinkedIn to successfully distinguish your service and capitalize on a satisfied and engaged client base using existing testimonials on your website.
5. Optimize your profile for search
This should be common sense, especially when you compare the functionality of a professional networking resource with a branded website. After all, both are used to increase online visibility and engage others, and just as you would use the principles of SEO to enhance the reach of your website you should optimise your LinkedIn profile for search. To achieve this you simply need to research the keywords that relate to your industry or service, perhaps using Google’s analytical tools to drive accurate results. Then integrate these into your profile as naturally as possible, as this will help to improve your visibility on the site without using text in a repetitive manner.
6. Blog regularly and become a thought leader
The concept of thought leadership is best described as being the entry point into a relationship, whether this is between collaborators or businesses and a potential customer base. LinkedIn is therefore the ideal platform through which to initiate such relationship, especially if you make the most of the sites now universally accessible blogging resource. By committing to create original, relevant and insightful blog posts on a regular basis, you can organically advertise your expertise while also ensuring that your profile ranks well in relation to industry specific keywords. This need not take a huge amount of time either, especially if you focus on creating short and concise posts that hold the reader’s attention.
7. Use LinkedIn’s trending content tools to publish relevant posts
If you do decide to republish posts, write new blogs or simply share some newsworthy content, you may as well make sure that you are this is in the user’s interests. To help you achieve this, you should take a few moments to use LinkedIn’ own trending content tools, as this will automatically analyse posts and updates before relaying those that are most relevant to you and your connections. This offers you best possible chance of engaging readers and ensures that you optimize your time when creating content.
8. Actively participate in LinkedIn groups
While this may sound time-consuming, it initially requires a willingness to search for relevant, professional groups that are within your industry. By being selective and choosing two or three groups based on their popularity, relevance in terms of keywords and existing membership base, you can then to subscribe to daily updates that are delivered directly to your email inbox. From here you simply need to take five or 10 minutes out of your daily schedule to respond and interact with other members, as you share your insight and build strong professional bonds.
9. Reinforce the values of human interaction
According to research conducted by Econsultancy, 74% of all marketers believe that personalisation increases customer engagement. This is part of a wider trend that is relevant to LinkedIn users, as personal messaging and the underlying values of human interaction remain far more powerful than generic connection requests or overly optimised text. With this in mind, you can improve your networking credentials and appeal by personalising the individual messages that you send to others, even if this is just to show an interest in their activities or business. This will help build longer-lasting and meaningful relationships that deliver value over time.
10. Create a call to action
On a final note, why not conclude your profile summary with a succinct and relevant call to action? Although this is largely associated with businesses, the psychology of the call to action can easily be applied to individuals who are looking to network with others. So depending on whether you want individual to interact with your blog, visit a website or email you directly, be sure to add a concise call to action that shares this eloquently with other LinkedIn members. The key thing to remember is to keep your call to action relatively brief and clear, while also avoiding any overly optimized or sales-influenced copy that is likely to deter readers.
Featured photo credit: Smi23 / A Name Like Shields Can Make You Defensive via flickr.com
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