Straight to the point: go make yourself a LinkedIn account! Do it NOW and come back then.
I’m super serious. I can’t stress enough how necessary it is. My previous position was in Business Development and I spent 70% of my time on this platform and everybody who’s anybody is on it. Do you want some insider information? Here you go: if we don’t find someone on LinkedIn we presume that person is not worth finding. I told you before how important it is to be easy to find on Google, but people have a short attention span and an employer will give you a few minutes and your Facebook is no longer what they prefer checking out. Sure, you may seem very cool there but they won’t pay you to be cool. They want your education, experience and any other proof of professional excellence and they want a one-stop shop.
I hope you’re convinced now, so go create one and then come back. I’ll wait.
Ok, there are so many articles out there with pages and pages of tips, but they are sooo obvious. If you’re a beginner, check some out after reading mine. I’ll tell you the top 4 (because 5 is too mainstream of a number) areas and some conclusions based on my experience.
1. The Profile Photo
When choosing your photo, think about it for a second. It’s not for Facebook or Instagram, but it isn’t for a tombstone, either! I won’t tell you what NOT to do because there are exceptions to every rule. (For example, it’s been said it should be a close-up but if you’re in the fashion industry, maybe it’s better to show off a bit of your style.) Your photo should aim to elicit an emotion – sympathy, respect, admiration, etc. A passport photo is everyone’s go-to, but what does a poker face make you feel? Right, nothing.
- Expressions: To inspire respect – deliberate relaxed face + intense eye contact. To inspire trust – slight smile + eyes looking to the side. To inspire admiration – friendly smile + gaze into the camera. To inspire sympathy – a laugh + eyes elsewhere and slightly closed.
- Should go without saying and yet look at all the ones that should be told: Use a good quality photo! Even most phones have a great camera nowadays so there is no excuse.
- The person in the photo should look like you. Like you now, not 10 years ago. Don’t fear your age – with it comes wisdom or so I’ve heard!
- Have something memorable/unique in the photo – it could be a prop, your pose, your expression.
2. The Information
Raise your hand if you HATE writing/updating your CV! We all do because it’s so much work even if you just have to add a sentence. Thankfully, in LinkedIn, you don’t have those design disasters that occur if you have a creative CV and want to change anything. This means there’s no reason not to have your information up-to-date. HOW much you explain everything is up to you – I’ve tried but I can’t find my style so, for now, I just have the facts. But take a look at Patricia Garcia’s profile – I love how you can instantly tell how impressive of a person and professional she is even just at a glance!
- Include every work experience (even if it wasn’t a paid position) and if you don’t have much relevant experience, include all other ones. “He may not have worked as an architect before, but at least he’s accustomed to working long shifts because he was once a bartender” – that’s a better assessment to get than – “oh, he’s 30 but has never worked anything?!”
- Check your grammar, punctuation, and spelling. If your English is not that good, ask someone whose is to check it. There’s no shame in asking for help.
- Don’t create a section for just one thing. If you have 1 volunteering experience, even if it’s great, it means creating a whole section for “Volunteering”. That makes your profile seem larger but not with content, and that could be a problem.
- Talk in first person or neutral but NOT third person. Emilia thinks she is right about this because it sounds stupid and robotic.
3. The Recommendations
I judge people I don’t know by their recommendations – both the ones they’ve received and those they’ve given. The truth is it’s hard to get recommendations, especially in the beginning. If you don’t have a long work history and haven’t been at least a manager, it’s probable that nobody has written you a recommendation because they don’t feel like they have to. If you’re fresh out of university and want to ask a professor to write something about you, it could be tricky if he/she has many students. Don’t get insulted – they just aren’t capable of remembering everyone enough to write about them…
- “Ask and ye shall receive.” Yes, don’t be shy – that won’t get you anywhere. When you enter a connection’s profile there’s a button to ask for a recommendation so click it. But there’s a higher chance to actually do it if you…
- …Remind them who you are and why you deserve the recommendation. “Hello, Mr…. I hope you remember me – I used to sit in the first row of your class last year. Yes, I was the one asking all those questions. I won the … competition with my project…” and so on. This way they will write you something more personal and not a generic teacher-student review.
- Also, to multiply your chances, write THEM a recommendation first. Write it the way you would like them to write yours. It could be more emotional and expressive or factual and brief. Everyone likes a nice compliment and an unexpected recommendation is just that.
- Don’t get disappointed if a recommendation doesn’t live up to your expectations. Some of mine are nice but have let me down – they are from people I thought were really impressed by me; they wrote them right away but they are short and a bit ambiguous. However, people are different and I am sure the authors of them had the best intentions but it didn’t translate through. In the end, it’s the idea that counts, right?
3. The Cover Photo
I can’t believe most people still haven’t put one and have that generic color background. This is your chance to show a side of you! Remember what we discussed last week? If you consider yourself an adventurer, you could put a photo like the one above. Or maybe an abstract design if you want to show you are creative. Really, the profile photo has regulations (see point 1) but the cover one is absolutely up to you! For your information, the recommended image resolution is 1400×425.
- Use something yours. Mine is a photo I took when I was on a road-trip in the forest with my brother and shows trees. The quality isn’t excellent, but it’s not bad and shows authenticity. My point is, don’t type something into Google Images. That’s boring. If you can draw (or even if you can’t) – create something that expresses you.
- Analyze it. You might like heavy metal, but a photo of a skull might not make a good first impression. Don’t just use a nice image – let it tell a story or at least the beginning of one!
4. The Relationships
In the end, this is still a social platform so let’s talk people. Here I have many tips so let’s start. In no specific order:
- Build your LinkedIn network based on quality, but also on quantity. Never reject a connection request, unless it’s maybe your arch-nemesis. Don’t judge anyone based on their employment or experience – you never know when you could help someone or someone could help you.
- Comment, comment, comment. Someone shares an infographic? Even writing: “Interesting!” could start up a conversation or make that person’s day! The more you engage with others, the more they’ll engage with you and that’s how real connections are born! Or at least like stuff!
- Write posts but only if you have something to say. This is important because some people are turning LinkedIn into Facebook and believe me, they are losing many followers as this is a professional site. Try to not talk politics, religion or other touchy topics. Some of the most influential LinkedIn people are just that because they are controversial! They say stuff they might not believe in order to start a conversation but they’re known for that, so it’s fine. Us commoners must be careful to not say anything we wouldn’t stand behind later.
- Follow people that inspire you. I am not a fan of Twitter so I am disappointed that many of my favorite well-known people are so active there, but at least on LinkedIn, they post what really matters. I love business news, insights and discussions, so I follow tons of people from that sector. Many architects post about the future of the industry, so there’s that!
- DON’T FORGET PEOPLE KNOW WHEN YOU’VE LOOKED AT THEIR PROFILE! Don’t worry – that’s good. It means they know you are in some way intrigued by them. Still, keep that in mind. You CAN change your settings and spy anonymously but WHY would you do that? It’s usually recruiters that do that so you don’t bug them later with messages.
- When inviting people to connect with you, the default message is “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn”. Boooring! Write a more personal sentence, even to people you don’t know. You can see posts your friends have liked or commented – those could be written so well you want to read more of them. I do that – I add people with “Hey %NAME%, I saw one of your posts and I really liked it. I’d like to learn more from you. Do you want us to connect?” or something like that.
This article got quite long, so I’ll stop here! You want me to do a part 2 of the LinkedIn Masterclass? Tell me it at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll consider it. I apologize if you fell asleep, it’s just that there is so much to say on this topic…
I wish you good luck on your mission to conquer the most important social media space! See you next week (not literally, but you know what I mean)!