Think of your LinkedIn profile as an elaborate extension of your résumé – not a professional version of your Facebook. There is more to it than updating your contact information and finding people to add to your circle. LinkedIn provides effective tools, from simple one-step upgrades to more extensive networking means, to help you achieve a wide-range of objectives on the path of professional development. However, most of the 260 million users aren’t taking advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer – are you one of them? Here are 8 common mistakes that you’re probably making.
Amp up Your Profile
- It’s the simplest first step – filling in your headline. It’s a no-brainer; just plug in your job title, right? Wrong. Don’t waste this precious space with redundant information that shows up just a scroll away in your work experience section. Get creative – are you a Wordsmith? Tech Extraordinaire? Film Aficionado? Feel free to claim multiple identities, and include your interests as well as profession. Just stay away from those meaningless buzzwords like ‘Expert’ and ‘Innovator;’ they’re already taken by 2.3 million and 1.7 million, respectively. Your headline is a chance to be original and stand out, so don’t fill it with empty words, or empty altogether.
- It seems many LinkedIn users skip the summary or stick to a repetitive one-sentence blurb. Like your headline, this is a valuable platform to be more than just a job title or bullet points of responsibilities – show your personality, and include both your current work and projected goals. Showing the person behind the profile is an important precursor to networking, especially with new contacts.
- LinkedIn expert, Wayne Breitbarth, calls the Professional Gallery feature ‘The Big Differentiator,’ for its power to set you apart (and ahead) of the pack, which is one of the main objectives of your LinkedIn profile. The Professional Gallery allows you to upload and display various types of media, from videos to images to presentations. This tool isn’t just for artists, either ¬¬– add a YouTube video of you giving a sales pitch or link your Amazon product page. The Professional Gallery allows you to showcase any and all material that demonstrates what you contribute to the world.
- The Advanced People Search tool enables you to search for LinkedIn members based on specific criteria for finding someone you already know quickly, or even generating leads for new connections – both of which are extremely valuable. The Title and Industry fields are most useful for narrowing down members you’d like to connect with that you don’t know yet. After you’ve searched for people to network with in your line of work, you can identify the best leads by seeing which members are two or three degrees outside of your circle. Now you have a pool of people who are only an introduction away – just check your Shared Connections for whom you have in common.
- In addition to your profile, LinkedIn provides tools to connect to others in your business and even those outside of it that could become future customers and colleagues. Think beyond your employees and co-workers; you can join one of the site’s various groups for focused networking, that include both professions and interests. Join the conversation with Writers or Digital Marketing gurus to spur brainstorms, swap techniques and strategies, or just bond with likeminded people and make new connections. The networking potential is endless.
- One of the best ways LinkedIn helps you stay connected is through their new contacts upgrade tool. It draws all of your contacts from your address books, email accounts, and calendars together with the power of your LinkedIn network. The convenience of having all of your contacts in one place is great in itself, but you will also have access to your recent conversations and meetings, and even receive alerts of job changes and birthdays, so you never miss an opportunity to stay in touch or follow up on a project. Even better, you can set reminders and add notes about important contacts, so maintaining relationships is that much easier.
- Another way to truly engage with those in your network is to participate in Connection Recommendations. Request them from your peers and reciprocate, write them without a request, and reorder them on your profile to best represent your strengths respective to your work history. Having others vouch for you creates a real world dynamic to your experience, and exchanging them fosters stronger bonds with your peers and superiors.
- Although a professional sphere, LinkedIn is still a social media platform fit for sharing – and the site has the tool to do just that. The Sharing Bookmarklet tool allows you to share webpages with your network and groups straight from your browser even when you’re not on LinkedIn. All you have to do is drag the LinkedIn button to your browser toolbar to install, and share away. Treat this as you would other social media platforms – post company news, articles worthy of a read that suit your niche, or whatever you deem shareable; but keep it classy, as per usual.
Everyone’s on LinkedIn to find solutions to their problems, from making a career move, to building a business, to finding a mentor; not to socialize frivolously or connect with every face that looks familiar. Take the time to elevate your profile with these constructive tools, and you can shape your professional self and achieve your professional goals – success is just a few links in.