Having an online presence is essential to remaining competitive in today’s world of business. Allowing colleagues to learn about your professional accomplishments, education and business philosophy can generate leads and attract potential employers. However, not everyone has the time, inclination or necessary content to sustain a website or blog. In the world of social media marketing, LinkedIn stands alone in its ability to expand your professional network, promote your personal brand and keep you up-to-date with the current industry trends. Whether presently employed or a business owner, LinkedIn can help you reach your professional goals. LinkedIn offers a paid monthly membership with premium access. However, the free version provides some excellent features that offer a host of professional growth opportunities.
As a new member, you will first have to create a personal profile. Your personal profile is your LinkedIn identity and allows other members to view your education, professional accomplishments and goals. There are several elements to building an effective and professional LinkedIn profile. Your profile picture will be the most visible to the entire LinkedIn community. While a professional head-shot is not necessary, be sure to use a photo in which you are looking poised and confident. Your photo is the LinkedIn community’s first impression of you, so make it count.
Next, complete your headline. Your headline should state your primary field or profession. For example, “Legal Secretary at J&A Law” or “Doctoral Candidate in Engineering.” Be creative when tailoring your headline, but not so much that it is no longer recognizable in a search. Remember, the goal is to promote visibility; you may state your profession as “Landscape Designer,” but should avoid “Outdoor Living Environment Artist.”
The summary section is the area of your profile where you get a chance to introduce yourself, expand on your professional accomplishments and highlight those qualities that set you apart from others in your field. Draft your summary as you would your resume and emphasize your strengths and talents in your current or desired industry. Be sure to include a few relevant keywords, but only where they fit naturally. Invest some time in perfecting your summary and have someone proofread it for grammatical and punctuation errors. Be sure that the finished product of your summary section is professional and polished.
Part of your Linkedin social media plan should be to expand your network by making connections. Remember, LinkedIn is not about collecting as many contacts as possible, it is about striving to build a strong network of connections who offer real value to your professional development. A good place to begin is by connecting with past and present colleagues by going to LinkedIn.com/people/reconnect and choosing the employer from the list on the right side of the screen.
Sometimes, you may find that someone in your network has a connection who would be a valuable resource to you. Perhaps they are the CEO of a well-respected engineering firm or have several publications in your field. As long as you have a shared connection, the introduction feature of LinkedIn allows you to reach out to that person through your mutual connection. Simply go the page of the person with whom you would like to connect. On the left, you will see your mutual connection and a “get introduced” option, which allows you to message your connection and request an introduction to the third-party. The free version of LinkedIn allows up to five pending introductions at any given time and can expand your network in a way that is courteous and professional.
LinkedIn has hundreds of groups based on profession, industry, interest, schools and many other categories. Groups are a very powerful tool for increasing your LinkedIn visibility, finding valuable connections and learning more about your field. Group discussions may include job openings, reading suggestions, current marketing trends and anything of note in the industry. Regularly contributing to group conversations will distinguish you as a valuable and knowledgeable resource in your field, increase your worth as a connection and can potentially generate sales or employment leads. At the very least, participating in LinkedIn groups will help you to make some significant network connections you may not have otherwise found.
Businesses across all industries have LinkedIn pages full of company news, product development updates and job postings. Staying informed about relevant corporate news and industry trends will improve your professional knowledge and enhance the value of your contributions to group discussions. And if applying for a position at a business, the company’s profile is a great resource for learning its corporate goals and strategies so you may tailor your cover letter to address their specific needs. Additionally, becoming familiar about a company’s organizational structure can help small business owners decide where to forge connections to create a business relationship where none previously existed.
LinkedIn is an active and changing landscape, similar to that of the business environment. If you build a LinkedIn profile and let it remain idle, it will do just that. Stay active in group discussions, endorse the skills of your connections and make introductions between people whom you feel would benefit from a business relationship. The more active you are, the more visible and relevant you will become. Just like your professional career, your profile is a work in progress. Periodically update your profile with recent successes and accomplishments, or perhaps list a brief update of your current projects. If there are websites or blogs which mention your work, link to them to further bolster your online identity.
LinkedIn provides an interactive platform for professionals to grow a strong network of like-minded colleagues. Leveraging LinkedIn to promote your personal brand and initiate career growth is as easy as knowing how to use its intuitive features to your advantage.
To learn more about creating a strategic social media plan to expand your brand’s reach and influence online, contact Horton Group today at 615-292-8642. In addition, feel free to download our social media checklist, which will walk you through each step of developing a successful social media campaign.
Topics: Social Media