With 500 million users, chances are you have a professional profile on LinkedIn. But are you utilizing the site to its full potential? Whether you’re looking for work or wanting to build your network, ignoring LinkedIn could mean missed opportunities. According to LinkedIn’s latest report2, over 75% of people who recently changed jobs used LinkedIn to inform their career decision. From a recruiting standpoint, people who follow your company on LinkedIn are 81 % more likely to respond to your InMail than those who do not. So, how can HR & payroll professionals the most out of the social platform?
LinkedIn can be used for a myriad of reasons including job hunting, filling jobs, selling a product or service, promoting an event, or even sharing information and building one’s professional brand and network. Knowing why you are on LinkedIn is the first step in understanding what you want your LinkedIn brand to be. Keep this purpose in mind as your build out your profile.
Knowing your audience’s industry is important to ‘speak their language’ and attract your desired visitors. You should know what industry you are targeting, job titles of the connections you want to gain, and in addition, your why (are they visiting your profile).3
Why do you want to connect with this audience? Know why you want to connect and the value you’ll bring your new connection(s).
One option is targeting searches by keyword, job title, company, location and shared interests like alumni or charitable activity. This should present you with a number of leads that you can connect, share, and maybe even receive a referral.
(Side Note: LinkedIn limits how many searches a regular member can make before blocking your search access and requiring you to upgrade to a paid membership. Keep this in mind as you’re conducting research as you don’t want to waste those precious free searches.)1
Here’s an example: A Logistics Broker wants to connect with truck drivers. To get noticed by this group, an individual should join groups, make post comments and post information pertinent to them, Target audience LinkedIn users not yet connected will notice the activity within their industry, bringing more views to the logistic broker’s profile and increase connections.
There are more than 2 million groups in LinkedIn (find them under the “Work” tab at the top of your LinkedIn page) and LinkedIn lets you join up to 100. Search for topics of interest and start joining! It’s good to be in a mix of groups for both your peers and clients. Ideally, you’ll want to be in only a handful of groups so you can keep up with the conversations. After spending some time in the groups, leave those that aren’t active or aren’t a good fit for you.1
At least once a week, take some time to visit each group and browse the new conversations. Participate in a meaningful way by adding insights, asking questions or sharing resources. After you’ve been an active member for a while, it’s okay to occasionally share your own content or discuss your services (check the group rules first, of course), but never just link dump and run. The goal with LinkedIn groups is to learn from your peers, help your prospects and slowly establish yourself as a reliable expert. It’s a long-game, but it pays off!1
Make this creative! Having a creative Introduction that speaks to both your business and brand attracts more attention. The Introduction is what appears in the search. This may be the only chance you have to make an impression, so it’s critical to get your message across AND stand out. What problem(s) will you solve? What specific skills do you have that sets you apart from the competition?
Getting someone to click on your name is the first step. Next, use the tagline area to clearly communicate what you do and the benefits you offer. Then, entice visitors to actually look through your entire profile. The Summary section, which shows up right below the header may make someone decide whether they read on or leave your page. Use this area to clearly communicate what you do and how it helps. Sprinkling in industry-specific keywords also helps you move up in search results.1
Also, please use a somewhat professional headshot and edit your LinkedIn URL to something short and sweet.
Users tend to list jobs and responsibilities like a resume. A better way to showcase your experience in the most ‘marketable’ way is listing your past/present employer(s) and what you accomplished while there. Another option is to list past/present employer(s) with no additional detail unless there is something about that role you believe should be highlighted. This can leave questions that need to be answered and foster an online conversation.
Asking your connections for Endorsements and Skill Recommendations ‘beefs-up’ your profile to verify what you have established your LinkedIn brand to be. This is your “LinkedIn Certification,” meaning your connections are telling the public you are qualified. This is huge! The best sells are always from referrals so the more you have posted along with your credentials the better.
To appear in connections feeds and groups to establish yourself as an thought leadership expert, you need to share content—your own and others’. Make sure you regularly post updates. (Do this from the home page or schedule them in bulk using a social media planning tool.)
It’s also important to publish long-form content on LinkedIn. You can do this in two ways:
Share information that’s useful to your ideal target(s) to showcase your knowledge.
Create a regular posting schedule and promote your posts in groups. Over time, your views, likes, and followers will increase, as will your connection requests and opportunities to reach new prospects.1
Start sending a short note to anyone who connects with you. Thank them for the request, try to reference some common ground (review their profile), briefly mention what you do and ask if they’d be interested in having a quick introductory chat over the phone.
Don’t sell. Don’t push. Start a conversation.1
LinkedIn is a valuable tool that can be much more than just a place to gather names. If you use it to push helpful information and connect with professionals that you can partner with or potentially obtain as a quality lead, it can be very beneficial and lead to fantastic online networking.
1 http://beckymollenkamp.com/ (LinkedIn Guru)
3 We highly recommend Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” to get you started on your “why” journey