34. How to make your LinkedIn profile stand out.Jun 15, 2020
Understanding the power of LinkedIn over our careers.
There is no question that if you are looking for a "white-collar" job in the corporate, public, or nonprofit sectors, you need to be on LinkedIn.
In addition to the blog below, I'd like to invite you to download my LinkedIn checklist so that you can review your profile top to bottom.
Linkedin is considered the platform for professional networking and job hunting. Furthermore, with the advent of COVID and many workplaces and coffee shops around the globe still shut down, LinkedIn is the new "High Street." You can "bump" into many exciting people on LinkedIn, reconnect with old classmates, and find out who your future boss will be.
It's also very global in reach. With over 600 million users, it's the only mainstream western social platform available worldwide, including China. In contrast, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are still out of reach in that country (at publishing).
Here are some statistics that prove the point of maximizing and amplifying your presence on the platform:
- Less than half of people with LinkedIn profiles are actively using the platform. That is, posting links, sharing content, commenting, and updating their profiles regularly. This is good news for you if you want to use LinkedIn to boost your professional connections and reputation.
- Linkedin users are high earners: Data shows that close to 44% of its users in the United States take home an annual salary above the national median. It's safe to say we can extrapolate that to other countries as well. So again, if you are in a white-collar profession, this is likely the platform for you to develop your connections and opportunities for work and business.
- Linkedin is excellent for discovering people: Who are the right people to connect within the organization you want to work for? Who are the right recruiters and headhunters for your expertise and do your research before applying for a job (i.e. who was doing the job before you? Who will be your manager and co-workers?). By doing a bit of research, you can quickly uncover all of the people listed above.
- Recruiters and hiring managers are heavy users and likely to be on LinkedIn every day. There are, on average 14 million jobs advertised on LinkedIn at any one time. And I don't know a single recruiter or head hunter who doesn't rely heavily on LinkedIn to do their jobs - both to advertise roles and search for great candidates.
Despite all of the above, which when we put pen to paper shows the platform's power over one's career, it's amazing to see how many professionals neglect their profiles and don't take steps to make the platform work for them instead of against them.
Linkedin is the new High Street.
Imagine LinkedIn is the central business hub in your city. In Melbourne, that would be Collins Street. Imagine walking up Collins Street on your way to an important meeting that could have huge repercussions on your career. I'm assuming you would be dressed to impress and ready to deliver your pitch, yes?
Well, that's how you'd have to be in 2020 when you are on Linkedin. Let's start with the basics:
1. You need a professional photo.
The first step to impress LinkedIn is not dissimilar from the first impression you want to have when you walk into a job interview. So investing in a professional photo is vital, and LinkedIn data shows it can get your profile 14 times more views than other types of profile pictures. A great photo needs to inspire confidence, convey work experience, and portrait you as a likable person.
I do LinkedIn Audits as a service, and it still surprises me how many excellent professionals have terrible profile photos. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a great picture that shows your best self to your network.
2. Your work experience needs to be meaningful and relatable.
Many people focus on writing a great headline for their profiles and having a very inspirational About section. But when you check out their Work Experience section, nothing makes sense. You don't know the organizations they worked for; their job titles are a jumble of acronyms and abbreviations that means nothing. Even a job experience that lists you as a "Project Manager" working for KPMG would leave me wondering: what area of KPMG? What type of project was this? How big or small? Was it internal, or was it for a client? In sum, you have to add a paragraph to explain what you did and make it relatable so that a future employer will look and think, "well, we may need this skill/experience" in the future.
LinkedIn profiles with detailed work experience have 5 times more connection requests, 8 times more views, and 10 times more messages.
3. You need to be an active participant in the platform.
The best way to use LinkedIn is to:
- maintain professional relationships by connecting with people you know,
- find people you may need to contact for business development or professional opportunities and to
- expand your reach and reputation.
The best way to do these things is to share great content on topics aligned with your profession and expertise. This will ensure you are kept "top of mind" of those who already know you, that is, your connections. But most importantly, when they like and comment on your posts, your posts will show up on their connections' feed. And your reach is then many times bigger than your immediate connections. Just think about that, and feed the LinkedIn algorithm with good content that is great for sharing:
- Have you read a research or business article that will resonate with other professionals? Please share it.
- Has anyone in your feed posted a great article, opinion, or story that is related to your expertise? Like and comment on that post.
Pitfalls: be careful when using the platform
Be careful how you use LinkedIn, compared to how you may use other social media platforms. Here are some of the unwritten rules I recommend that you follow:
- Don't connect with people you don't know. You can always follow them if you want their content to show up on your feed. If you desperately want to connect, send them a written note explaining why. This is what I recently wrote in a letter to Michael, an academic who studies career coaching: "Hi Michael, I read your recent article and loved it, and would be delighted to connect with you and keep in touch. LinkedIn didn't let me connect with you because I don't have your email! Cheers, Renata". He accepted, and we have been in touch since. My goal is to invite him as a guest on the podcast. An apparent exception is if you want to connect with me: I'm giving you my blessing to connect with me, but please send me a note telling me how you found out about me!
- LinkedIn is not social networking: Today, I read a post about someone who is happy she's back on the pool. I'm delighted for her, and I'd love to go back to my local pool too. But that, in my view, is a post for Facebook. Whatever her professional expertise is, if it's not swimming, it's not LinkedIn material.
- Avoid being kicked out of LinkedIn: I speak from experience - it's a total nightmare. Can you imagine? Last night I watched a video of a woman who has half a million followers on YouTube, who teaches others how to become an Amazon Affiliate. And you guess it? Amazon kicked her out of the program. I related to her so much, as my profile was removed from LinkedIn for one day, just days after I launched my career coaching business. Why? Because I was sending too many messages to my connections, all the same messages, inviting them to subscribe to my newsletter. I learned my lesson, and I'm now cautious with how I use the platform. Another way you can get in trouble is by making a rude or racist comment. Two days ago, I flagged one to LinkedIn. I reflected long and hard before I did so because I know the consequences. But it had to be done. And, likely, that person is now on the outside.
Links mentioned in this episode: