Of all the social platforms to maintain and develop, LinkedIn is the only one solely dedicated to professional networking.
You may be using the platform to build your network, engage with your existing connections, seek new opportunities or recruit new employees. It is a great platform to promote yourself as an expert in your field and connect with prospects, trade support personnel, and colleagues, not to mention keep up to date on industry news and access insights from leaders in business and travel.
But how can you as an entrepreneur and business professional make the most of LinkedIn?
Here are a few tips.
1. It starts with appearance.
First of all, if you don’t have a headshot on your profile yet, it’s time to upload one, but make sure it reflects how you want to be represented as a professional. If your profile photo is a selfie, over filtered, cropped from a group picture or generally lacking personality, it’s time for an update. Not interested in investing in a professional photographer for the money shot? No problem. Put on a collared shirt and spend a little extra time on your appearance, then ask a friend or colleague to take a photo of you against a simple, clean background. Et voila!
2. Keep your profile publicly accessible.
What is the point of having a LinkedIn profile if you’re not going to allow people to see it? And I ask that in all seriousness, which applies to anyone aside from recruiters. Take advantage of all its possibilities by allowing prospective employers, employees, clients, etc… to see your entire profile, and as a side note, also update your settings so people can know if you’ve viewed their profile as well; it may lead to a conversation and a new job, new deal or new contact, depending on what you’re looking for.
3. LinkedIn is not a dating website, so don’t treat it as though it is.
I don’t think I need to explain this one any further; if you’re seeking a prospective partners, there are other websites for that.
4. Include your professional contact information.
One of my biggest frustrations with LinkedIn is attempting to access contact details only to find a personal e-mail address, or worse, nothing at all. In some cases, it’s possible to send a message via the LinkedIn platform, but I prefer looking up a person, find out what I need to know, and then send an old fashioned e-mail. Regardless – and not to sound like a broken record – LinkedIn allows you to connect and interact with colleagues and other professionals, so sharing your professional contact information allows you to make the most of it.
5. Give details!
The bulk of your LinkedIn profile should read like your résumé; show off your expertise and experience, offering details of your current and past roles so your connections can better understand your responsibilities and skill sets. The site also gives you the opportunity to share information about your education, volunteer work and interests, which you should include in order to have a well-rounded profile.
6. List your skills and seek recommendations.
Don’t be afraid to highlight areas where you shine by adding them to your “Skills” section. Once you do that, your connections have the opportunity to endorse you, which adds clout to your profile. Also, be confident enough in yourself to ask connections to write recommendations for you, such as employers, colleagues, clients or the like, which will offer second-hand perspectives to people checking out your profile on what your strengths are and the positive points of working with you. On this point, by endorsing contacts or writing recommendations for others, you are likely to encourage them to return the favour.
7. Seek and add new connections.
Although this point may differ in importance based on your goals with the platform, spending some time each week perusing relevant profiles and adding new connections could prove valuable in opening up new business opportunities. When you send requests to connect, do your best to revise the standard “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network” message and make it more personal, briefly detailing the reason for your interest in connecting with those receiving your request.
8. Post updates.
Share links and images that align with your values as a professional in order to open up conversation with your connections and increase profile activity. Don’t be afraid to post about your own accomplishments or links to pages you’ve found useful in your work, and be sure to comment on or “like” content you see in your LinkedIn newsfeed as well, to be an active and valuable connection for your network.
9. Follow influencers & join groups.
By being on LinkedIn, you have access to a wealth of knowledge from leaders in your industry, in addition to networking opportunities via specific niche groups. Join and follow posts to stay up to date on the latest trends, leadership tips, sales recommendations or whatever insider perspectives they may offer as a way to further your own skills, and don’t be shy to join in the conversation.
10. Customize your URL.
It’s a simple step to further personalizing your profile, and making it more easily shareable; you can customize your URL by clicking here and editing the link as it appears on the right hand side of your screen.
This piece was brought to you by Air Canada, as part of the airline’s ongoing efforts to support travel agents. ACTA members click here to access Air Canada’s ACTA Training program for agencies.