Before Christmas I had the pleasure of running a Techpixies face to face training session on understanding the essentials of the LinkedIn platform. In a 4 hour session, our objective was that the Cohort would leave feeling equipped with the basic knowledge of getting a profile set up on it, and understand how and why to use it professionally. There were several lightbulb moments for me in the session that have prompted me to write this blog (not least the fact that we were also being filmed for BBC South – more on THAT later…) as I’m pretty sure the platform is one of the least understood within the social media family.
Firstly, like many people, nearly every member of the Cohort had a LinkedIn profile which they had established several years ago. When everyone else was talking about the platform they had logged on, added their name, job title and (maybe) a photo. Job done! Fast forward several years and unsurprisingly those profiles were still unfinished. They did however provide a giggle to a few when revisiting their choice of photo.
Secondly, it was commonly thought that LinkedIn was pretty much an online CV only. Whilst this might have been the flavour of the platform in it’s early years, It has now evolved and moved forward significantly to become so much more than this. In fact it’s predicted to be a real mover and shaker in 2019….already there are platform updates being announced and we are only in January.
Finally, there was concern in the room around connecting with people online. What if the request wasn’t accepted? How well did you need to know someone before connecting? What about if someone requested to connect with you that you didn’t know in a professional capacity? All scary stuff.
So, we then went on to demystify the platform and these concerns….
Far from being the home of an online CV, LinkedIn is a well-established and highly credible professional networking platform. It has over 500m users, and ranks as the third largest social network (although it doesn’t publish daily user stats I might add).
Did you know your LinkedIn profile link comes up as one of the first links if your name is googled?
LinkedIn is a powerful recruitment tool – it lets the right people know who you are and what you can offer in terms of skills, knowledge and experience. Having a great profile also indicates your professional standards and shows how up to date with technology you are.
You wouldn’t share your family photos here (definitely save those for Facebook), but you would definitely aim to showcase yourself, your professional skills and your thought leadership to the best of your ability.
It also holds 3m Company Pages! Want to check out local businesses and charities for future work opportunities? LinkedIn is a good place to start. Companies share information about themselves and of course advertise positions.
Heading back into the world of work after a career break? Establishing yourself as a freelancer? Setting up your own business? Yes to any of these means you need a standout LinkedIn profile. You want to show up in searches, you want to be noticed by recruiters and you want potential clients to see the best of you in a professional summary.
Top tip – did you know LinkedIn even has its own online blogging platform where you can share professional long-form content and blogs? It’s even called Articles.
All Star Profiles
Do you know how your LinkedIn profile rates?
LinkedIn supports you in getting your profile completed with as much information as possible by giving you stars for each section you complete on a strength rating. Your aim is an All Star! Why? Because All Star profiles are 40% more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn. An All Star Profile means that all the key sections of your profile are populated with information about you, your professional experience, skills and achievements, including a professional photo of yourself.
Top tip – ensure your professional photograph is just that – a full view of your face with a smile, wearing professional clothing.
Making LinkedIn Connections
Making connections is a natural way of using LinkedIn professionally. It’s perfectly ok to go and have a look at someone’s profile before accepting their connection request (no, this isn’t stalking them!). Are they in a similar industry to you? Have they sent you a personalised request suggesting you have shared professional interests and therefore you might benefit from connecting? If the answer is yes, connect away! And don’t become disheartened if you send out multiple connection requests which aren’t immediately accepted – unlike other social networks many people are not logging into this platform daily, so it could be several days before your requests are seen.
Top tip – send personalised messages with your connection requests as it looks much more professional to the recipient.
As I mentioned earlier, whilst we were also working away on LinkedIn during this training session, we were being filmed! Joy Foster, Founder of TechPixies was interviewed by a BBC South crew talking about why she started up the business in order to help women upskill and either return to work or launch their own business. Two days later and we were delighted that TechPixies was featured on BBC South three times! And yes, I definitely pretended that camera wasn’t there!