LinkedIn – not just for job seekers.

Although LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 225 million+ members, I will confess until recently I had thought it was designed only for those looking for a job – or selling something. My recent research shows this is not the case. It is actually a very powerful tool for strengthening your professional identity.

“It’s part of your online presence that isn’t limited by the length or formality of a resume, but also offers a place to showcase your experience and talents that can be validated by your colleagues. This is also a way to take control of your overall online persona.” (Backus 2012)

First things first – your headline and photo.
This is your first impression – make the most of it. Use a professional quality photo. It’s well worth the effort to have one taken in context if at all possible; Are you an artist? – have one of your pieces as the backdrop; Are you an engineer? – have your photo taken at a project. That being said, the image should be a clear simple headshot, the backdrop should not compete with your image, it should strengthen it, putting you the context of your profession.

The LinkedIn headline default is your job title – BORING… here is your chance to get the viewers attention:

“If you want my attention, you’ll do yourself a tremendous service if your LinkedIn headline instantly showcases to me your “so what?” Why should I stop and take a closer look at you? Tell me—in your headline.

“PMP-certified project manager – Known for successfully leading multi-million dollar projects in developing countries.” “(Forbes 2012)

Now set-up the rest of your key information
The Summary Section is the place to share your passion for your profession. Craft it to be a statement of who you are.

“Feel free to spice this section up with your unique abilities and differentiators, such as industry awards and honors.” (Schawbel 2009)

Be sure to update your Experience, Skills & Expertise, and Organization Section. Be creative in your writing. This will be easier if you create a persona of someone in your target audience to think of as you are writing. Be sure to use keywords related to your field within the text of your profile to make it easier for people to find you on Google.

Join LinkedIn groups and be an active member of the online community. You will be amazed at what you can learn – and by contributing you can increase your status as an expert in your field.

Connecting LinkedIn to your other communication channels

  • Use the same photo for all of your online spaces such as google communities or your YouTube channel to build your personal brand.
  • Create a custom LinkedIn URL and use it on your resume, your YouTube channel, etc.
  • Add projects, websites, and videos to your profile. (this has replaced LinkIn Apps.

Once your professional brand’s foundation has been laid, it’s time for fun! Start developing your network. Start making connections with people you know. Check out their profiles and give them appropriate recommendations, they will more than likely reciprocate and add recommendations to your site.

Stephanie Sammons of the Social Media Examiner shares these 5 tips to grow your network that are good guidelines to keep you on track:

#1: Update Your Status Frequently and Consistently
#2: Build Connections Constantly
#3: Be Strategic about When You are Active on LinkedIn
#4: Join and Actively Participate in LinkedIn Groups
#5: What You Share Matters

How to make your LinkedIn Headline Stand Out, Forbes, 2012
Build your Online Professional Presence With LinkedIn, Ashley Backus,  Etap Communications, 2012
HOW TO: Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn Dan Schawbel, Mashable 2009
5 Tips to Build and Grow Your LinkedIn Network, Stephanie Sammons, 2012

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