Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Are you using it to its full potential? You may have answered “yes” to having a LinkedIn profile and “no” to using it to its full potential. For many, a LinkedIn profile is something to have but not to utilize. You may see it as something that will help you find a job but not as something that will help build your career. You may even find it boring once you’ve connected to people you know, especially if they do not post anything. Like many things in life, what you get out of something is directly proportional to what you put into it.
LinkedIn is a free platform with over 930 million members in 200 countries and is available in 24 languages (LinkedIn, 2023). LinkedIn has features you can subscribe to, including job hunt tools and an excellent learning platform. Most users do not utilize those tools and are content with being able to locate and connect with other professionals.
The benefits of LinkedIn are substantial:
- LinkedIn helps you build your professional brand. Whether starting your career or changing your career trajectory or focus, connecting with people in your new industry is vital to forming new connections, learning more about your industry, and developing how others see you professionally.
- Your LinkedIn profile is the place to establish your professional presence. Take the time to acknowledge your connection’s accomplishments. Post about your successes. Create original posts about events and developments in your industry.
- LinkedIn helps rank your name in Google. As a professional, you want searches on your name to 1) Prioritize you and your accomplishments and not someone else’s; and 2) Deliver professional results. LinkedIn can help with those priorities.
- LinkedIn lets you stay current with peers from the past and their projects and successes. It is so common to lose touch once you don’t work together. LinkedIn gives you a professional outlet to stay connected.
- Conversely, LinkedIn can inform connections from past positions about your evolving career. It isn’t bragging if it is accurate and posted on LinkedIn.
- LinkedIn is an easy way to connect with people you meet at conferences and meetings. Business cards are a great tool, but connecting on LinkedIn is easy and lasting. When you give a presentation, ask people to connect with you on LinkedIn.
- When you are looking for a job, a well-crafted, up-to-date LinkedIn profile will grab the attention of potential employers. Job search is the original reason many develop their LinkedIn profile. But keeping your profile updated will attract the attention of possible employers, potential collaborators, or those needing a consultant. Keeping your profile updated allows interested companies and hiring managers to see your accomplishments, not only your more casual social media presence.
On LinkedIn, a well-developed and informative profile is a professional resume and branding tool. Even when you do not post, your profile presents your professional persona. When someone searches for you on LinkedIn, the following information is delivered, making it essential data to keep updated:
- Profile Photo. Your profile photo does not have to be taken by a professional. Still, it needs to be a clear photo of you alone. A “headshot,” head and shoulders, a smile, or a pleasant look is the most engaging. Frowning or, worse, scowling does not project the image of a professional that would make a good collaborator.
- Name. Use the name you use professionally. Make sure it is the name that people are the most familiar with. If your middle name is how people know you, you may consider putting your first name initial instead of your full first name.
- Headline. LinkedIn automatically adds your current job title and company name (if you have added that information). When writing a Headline, consider the first things you want people to know about what you do professionally. Reminder, this space is only 220 words, and every word needs to count. Full disclosure: I am still working on my perfect Headline.
- Location. It is essential to keep your location current, especially when looking for a job. If you are moving, add that information to your Headline. For example, “I am relocating to Denver in June 2023”.
Once that essential information has been added or updated, you will need to craft an About, add your applicable Education and/or Training, and your relevant Work Experience. Designing your best LinkedIn profile is often a work in progress and something you will probably have to do in several sessions.
It is time to rethink LinkedIn and find a way to maximize the platform’s potential to help you build a professional network and highlight your skills and achievements. My advice is to take another look at LinkedIn and update your profile. While you are at it, connect with me, Elaina Cantrell Robinson. I would be happy to be one of your connections. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/elainacantrellrobinson/).
Elaina Cantrell Robinson
Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Communication and Marketing