I would imagine that any business professional would have a LinkedIn account that they’re active on, but the more conversations I started to have with other millennials about business networking, the more I realized I was wrong. Not only are people not on this social media platform built specifically for business, many of them who are feel like they’re not getting anything out of having a LinkedIn account. When used correctly, LinkedIn is proven to be a lucrative platform for finding work, allowing work to find you, building your professional networks and landing dream jobs, but how do we make sure we got those results?
I reached out to Alexia Clincy, founder of Capitalize Social, a company that teaches businesses and corporations how to take full advantage of social media in order to broaden brand awareness, generate leads, and take their business to astronomical heights, to get some expert insight on what we’re doing wrong when it comes to LinkedIn. I asked her the most common LinkedIn questions I discuss with other women and men my age and here’s what she had to say –
What exactly should I be using LinkedIn for?
I don’t see many people using LinkedIn as regularly as they should, but it is definitely my second favorite social networking site after Twitter. Finding new opportunities is all about networking and getting to know new people, and LinkedIn provides the perfect platform for doing so on a professional level. You can use LinkedIn to find a new job, hire an employee, get connected with executives from literally any Fortune 500 company, and build networks with peers who can serve as partners or referral sources. If you’re new to LinkedIn, the first thing you’ll want to do is establish your objectives; so think about who it would benefit you to know, and go from there.
What strategies should I be using to get the most out of the platform?
The first thing you must know about LinkedIn is that it is SEO based and that profiles are ranked based on keywords and relevancy. That being said, it’s most important that you have a completed, keyword-stocked profile. In order for your profile to even be considered complete, it must have the following: industry & location, current position & description, two more positions, education, at least 5 skills, a profile photo (please just use a professional headshot!!), at least 50 connections, and a summary. Now that you have those things and your profile is complete, you can increase your ranking by using keywords, getting recommendations, and publishing content.
One of the easiest but biggest LinkedIn secrets that I can share is to use a custom message when adding a new connection. We’ve all opened the email that dryly states ” [name] would like to be added to your network” – we then hit yes or no and go on about our day not giving that person another thought. So next time you add someone, change that default message to something more personal, for example:
It was great meeting you at the writers workshop yesterday and I would love to have you in my professional network. If I can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out.”
That last sentence is imperative. Networking isn’t about what you can take from others. Givers gain; and this is a huge part of creating trustworthy relationships with people who will want to help you because you’ve also made yourself available to them. When accepting a connection request, I also reply with a similar personal message. This opens up the floor for a little back and forth, which also makes you more memorable.
Also be sure to use the “who’s viewed my profile” functionality. They’ve minimized the amount of information that you can see with a free profile; however, if you check every couple days, you’ll be able to catch most of your profile views. If someone you know has viewed your profile, send them a quick message just checking in. If someone that you do not know has viewed your profile and seems to be a valuable connection; also message them, but say “I noticed you viewed my profile, please do not hesitate to reach out if I can assist you in any way.” It seems creepy, but a lot of times people have landed on your page because they were looking for someone with your skill. By reaching out, you open the door to further communication and perhaps a job, client, referral, etc.
What is the biggest misconception with LinkedIn?
One of the biggest misconceptions that I hear with LinkedIn is “I’m not looking for a job, so I don’t need it.” You’ve heard the saying ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ right? Even though I partly believe that to be true, the fact remains that unless you’re branching out to connect with new people, you’ll be stuck with the same knowledge and same opportunities that you already have. Connect with others to a) genuinely help them however they may need it, and to b) build relationships with people who may be in a position to assist you in the future – whether you’re looking for employment or not.
If I don’t feel like LinkedIn is beneficial for me, am I doing something wrong?
It’s quite possible that this isn’t the best or most effective platform for your networking growth. If you are in sales, a business owner, or do any B2B work, I would say that you NEED to be on LinkedIn. If you’re not seeing results, you probably aren’t engaging with users enough. As with most social networking sites, the more you use LinkedIn, the more you will see results. Try posting updates and publishing posts that both provide value to your audience and give you credibility in your field. If you are consistently communicating with connections and providing valuable content, you’ll notice more people coming to you to fill whatever needs they may have.
Should I be searching for jobs or for people on LinkedIn?
I’d say to focus more on searching for people. When you can build relationships with individuals, they are more likely to put you in place for real human interaction when it comes to finding a job or achieving whatever objective you may have. Nowadays when you click on a link to apply for jobs, the process can be tedious and based on a computer scanning your answers to see if you make the cut or not. Instead, go through your networks to see if you know anyone at the company of your interest, or with the job you’re interested in and chat with them. If that person doesn’t exist, look for people in your network with close ties to someone in that position. Always be conversing with people in your network; and most importantly, aim to be a connector of people – even when it does not directly benefit you.
Connect with Alexia on LinkedIn to see how it’s done and follow her on Twitter for some invaluable gems. She’s truly one of a kind. Look forward to a follow-up post with more details on exactly how to optimize your LinkedIn profile in order to get the most out of your account.