I teach people how to use LinkedIn every day, which has taught me about the real questions, fears, and needs people have when it comes to this influential platform.
I've been a member of LinkedIn since May 2004, and I am among its first million users. Since day one I knew it was going to be a huge success, and I've seen it grow and evolve quite a bit.
I have never taken a formal course/workshop on LinkedIn— everything you will read has been self-taught, and I hope this helps each and every one of you to better use this amazing tool.
First of all, LinkedIn is different from Facebook. I have divided the use and understanding of LinkedIn into three sections to make it easier for users to understand.
Related Article: How to Promote Your Personal and Professional Brand Using LinkedIn
The Understanding and Use of Databases
LinkedIn has today approximately 380 million users, from which you can only access a small fraction. The size of that fraction will depend on two things: your connections and the groups you belong to. These will determine your first-degree connections, second-degree connections, and group connections that are the only people LinkedIn will give you easy access to.
All the rest will be completely out of your network, therefore, your reach. For example, as of today, of the 380 million people connected to LinkedIn, I have 2,106 first-degree connections, 1,896,294 second-degree connections, and 8,415,709 group member connections.
I can contact a total of 9,707,819 connections on my network. The rest—almost 371 million—are out of network, which means they are harder to communicate with and reach.
The reason this database is so important is because it gives you a venue for finding leads, recommendations and much more.
If you are trying to reach out to a company because you applied for a job online and you are very interested in that position, you can type the name of that company in the search bar and see "how you are connected" to that company, that is, what connections within your network you know.
If you have no first-degree connections, you can find the best route through common connections, to get recommended for the position. I assure you, if the fit is right, the possibilities for an interview will increase by 90 percent. You can do the same if you want to sell a product or service and need to find a key client within a company. There is nothing like LinkedIn's database to get the introductions you need.
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Find Alumni Database
This is a very robust database since it will tell you who of your fellow college or university alumni work where in the world, for what company and in what area of expertise. To access it go to Connections>Find alumni and using your university or any other university, you can do magic!
I’m not exaggerating. Let’s say you went to MIT, this page will take you to the MIT alumni page as default. Once there, you can choose, for example, people who live in the United Stated in the Seattle area, that work for Microsoft, in the Consulting Department. And it will give you the results with names and last names. Note this is a very valuable networking and marketing tool. Please use it wisely!
Making Your Profile Shine
The other primary side to LinkedIn is the content you write on your profile. LinkedIn search works similar to Google search, that is, it uses algorithms to show who appears on searches at the top of the list. Therefore, you need keywords (and lots of them), to emerge at the top the search result lists. Another option is to pay for LinkedIn Premium, just like Google does with its ads, but I prefer to stick to keywords myself.
Besides keywords, keep in mind LinkedIn is a talent finding site, so leaving your profile empty or filling it up with too much information can be harming to your goal, which should be attracting business and professional relationships. Now, some tips for writing a killer profile description.
Write it in first person, and use a tone that's straight forward and easy to read. It should catch the reader’s attention and be interesting. Get to the point and avoid generalizing. Readers want to know what you do, and not what you think of yourself. Tell your story and support it with results.
Make sure to include a list of specialties so you can add as many keywords as possible. Be sure to also add a picture. Profiles without a picture get clicked 14 times less. Also, make sure that your image reflects a person anybody would like to do business with, that is, someone trustworthy, smiling and self-confident. Attach a PDF copy of your resume, especially if you are currently looking for a job.
Make a list of all your jobs but only include a relevant four-line description of your last ten years of experience. The purpose of this section is not to incorporate too much content but to include as many recommendations as you can. The best way to ask for recommendations is to give recommendations, so go for them!
Recommendations tell readers, clients, recruiters, etc. that all you are saying is true. They are the best way to back up your experience and validate the quality of your work. These are the new references.
Include all your academic education and ask to be recommended by professors and peers. If you don't have much work experience, this can come in really handy.
Don’t forget to include volunteer work, causes you support, projects you shared with others, publications, etc. The more, the merrier. Also, Customize your LinkedIn link. You can find that option under your picture, under the edit profile mode.
Growing Your Network
The third aspect you need to know about LinkedIn is how to grow your network. As I mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is not Facebook, which means, you can choose to connect with people you don’t know personally. In fact, from my 2106 connections, I only know personally about 35 percent of them. Yet, 90 percent of my business comes from LinkedIn.
How do I do it? By generating traffic to my profile. And for that the rule is universal and simple. I either share or generate content on LinkedIn. The best tool to generate content in LinkedIn is LinkedIn Pulse which the mega blog the site offers.
The offer is still limited check for a “pencil” icon by your posting options in your home page. If you don’t have it yet, you will need to be patient since they are releasing it slowly but surely. The other way get traffic is sharing content and pulse also helps. You will need to set up your pulse page based on your tastes. You can follow influencers, topics or news channels so it will be very easy for you to share any content.
For connecting with people you don’t know, you can either expand your network, which is ideal by reading articles in Pulse and in your groups and actively participating in the “comments” section of both.
LinkedIn always gives you the option to reply to anyone either openly or privately, so go for it! Open new discussions and debates in groups that portray you as an expert. Or send invitations with notes explaining the reason for your connection. If you are going to start to grow your network please make sure that your Profile content is ready and that you know how to use the databases and the tool.
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I hope these tips help you grow your business and professional relations as they have helped me! And please don’t forget to add me to your network! https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreinawoodworth