The (Linked)In crowd can be tough to impress.
As one of many post-millennial Californian social media startups, there was little indication in 2003 that LinkedIn would become the world’s leading professional networking site. Its subsequent achievements are reflected in some simple statistics – 433 million members in over 200 countries around the world, with two new accounts created every second.
While LinkedIn’s 9,000 employees manage this social media leviathan’s maintenance and supervise a rolling programme of new features, it’s up to each individual member to regulate their own profile. Yet considering its almost entirely corporate membership, it’s surprising how many LinkedIn members fail to do so properly. From inappropriate photos to rambling bios and completely unrealistic claims, it’s easy to persuade a potential employer or associate that you’re unprofessional, unemployable, or simply an idiot.
Like any social media platform, LinkedIn is only as valuable as the content individuals upload. A biography without a photograph will be passed over by all but the most well-acquainted of connections, particularly if your name is a common one. A generic job description like “sales” won’t offer any insight into your background, nor will those ghastly job titles like “Professional Improvement Assistant”. If that’s what it says on your business card, come up with a description more pertinent to the skills you actually possess. Remember that your name and job title are the only text elements displayed in search results on LinkedIn, so getting them right is absolutely critical for building connections.
A well-written biography provides a shop window for your expertise and experience, acting as a compelling statement of intent. Conversely, a lengthy monologue will be a complete turn-off for time-strapped readers, while a copied-and-pasted CV implies laziness. Follow the journalistic tradition of listing things in descending order of priority, so anyone who stops reading halfway through has already absorbed the key facets of your career.
That word ‘career’ is significant here – remember that LinkedIn is about professional lives, not personal ones. No matter how much you hate cricket, nationalism or Wotsits, this is not the forum to espouse such opinions. Do bear in mind that some personal activities (such as running a half-marathon or joining a baking group) can demonstrate skills ranging from leadership and persistence through to an interest in learning. Related uploads/blog posts/profile photos can be beneficial in moderation.
Since LinkedIn is a social media platform, the usual rules apply. Regular updates are vital, with attentive proofreading and accompanying photos highly recommended. Swearing and blasphemy are as inadvisable as bragging about last night’s conquests, and don’t even think about posting while drunk. It may be advisable to prepare updates or blogs offline and read them with a fresh perspective before hitting the upload button, as an added safety net.
Once a month, think about what you’ve done over the last few weeks at work and consider any pertinent facts that could be added into your LinkedIn profile. If you’re a freelance photographer, it’s possible to stand out from the crowd by discussing the complexity of a particular assignment (which shows commitment) or talking about new techniques (demonstrating an enthusiasm to learn new skills). These can help existing contacts and prospective employers alike to appreciate your unique attributes and skillsets. It’s impossible to know where the next career move or client may originate, but there are plenty of people on LinkedIn with the power to open doors and create new opportunities.
For information on how social media platforms can benefit your business visit this blog post.