Linkedin is the foremost social media platform for professionals and businesses across the globe. It has a steadily growing user base of over 600 million people and rising.
Even still, people registered on still ask the question ‘what is Linkedin for?’.
I’ve had a Linkedin account for quite some time. To be completely honest, I hadn’t really utilised it properly until the tail end of 2017.
That’s when I started paying closer attention to what was going on.
Why should you use Linkedin?
On closer inspection, I started to realise that I wasn’t taking advantage of the best professional networking opportunity of the 21st century.
Since harnessing the power of the platform it has helped me achieve the following:
- Expanded my network from around 300 people to +7000 and growing
- Created single posts that have attracted +50,000 unique views
- Connected to & collaborated with fellow professionals across my global network to create a Podcast series
- Allowed us to build partnerships and our client base
- Helped grow our own website to over 10k visitors per month
Whilst reflecting on some of the things that have been achieved during the last few months. I realised that Linkedin has had a large part to play. Increasingly, I noticed that people are asking me to help them with their online presence.
This is something that has come to the fore with the Safeti Podcast and through interviewing guests in the recruitment sector.
With that in mind, I started scribbling this blog post. I immediately wanted to share with you some of the real insights from my experiences over the last few months.
There is some quite basic stuff that people aren’t paying attention to on the platform. I thought it might be useful to break some of these elements down to answer the question ‘What is Linkedin?’.
I’ve picked out what I feel has been most important when improving my online presence with Linkedin. Let’s take a deep dive into the simple elements that can really boost your profile, I hope it helps!
What is Linkedin for?
LinkedIn has its own specific platform but it’s built to be easy to use. If you haven’t already, you need to start by creating a your personal LinkedIn account and profile.
Linkedin is very similar to other social media platforms. But, and it’s a big BUT, networking on LinkedIn is much different.
You generally won’t find members posting cat videos or pictures of what they made for dinner.
There are exceptions to this rule but you have to remember – LinkedIn is a site for professionals, so everything is geared toward careers and business.
In the past, when people asked ‘What is Linkedin for?’, the most common answer would be ‘recruitment’. That is not the case nowadays. Not only that, it is one of the best social platforms for organic content reach for 2020.
So with this in mind, everything you do on the platform should be with this consideration.
Keep it classy
As you build your profile and seek out connections, endorsements, and recommendations, you’ll want to be remain professional at all times.
This does not mean that you can’t voice your honest opinions. Just try to do it a non-confrontational way.
There’s one caveat to all of this that I really need to mention. You need to be genuine.
You need to be into it. Whatever it is that you do. Don’t try to fake it.
There needs to be some tough love here. Honestly, if you’re faking it, you might want to think about getting another job. Or career!
It won’t take long for people to figure you out what you’re up to. I’ve seen quite a few people come and go from the platform in the last 12 months.
I would suggest that your approach is consistent and sustainable. Also, try not to wear yourself out by over-engaging.
Putting in the work
I have helped quite a lot of people of the last 12 months or so, and it’s easy to pick out the people who don’t want to work.
They don’t want my help, they want me to do all of the work for them. As you can appreciate, I don’t have much time for that.
Not because I don’t want to help them. Moreso because I know deep down that if they can’t get off their backsides and do the work themselves, they won’t succeed.
I only want to work with those who want to work and grow. Not those who feel entitled to have it all done for them.
The trap of the easy route
Let me lay something out straight here…
Most people do not like cold calls!!!
The main reason for this, is because of all those torturous calls from insurance companies, PPI agencies and so on.
But, Linkedin hasn’t quite been poisoned by that stuff (it’s getting worse lately though!).
You will get some people connecting with you just to sell you something. Many do this very badly and are the online version of PPI salespeople on the phone. Grrrr….
All of the people I have connected with on LinkedIn met at least one of the following conditions….
a) I know them
b) they are in a very similar line or work
c) I have a free resource which I believe would be valuable to them
Personally, I have never tried to sell anything directly on Linkedin. You probably shouldn’t either unless you have built trust with whom you connecting with.
How not to use Linkedin
It’s doesn’t paint a good picture when your only status posts are a no-shame sales pitch. There are some really good examples of how not to do it!
The types I receive quite regularly are like this……
- Some random person emails me about a health and safety product/service.
- The person has never spoken to me in their lives.
- The pitch has no context for me personally and what I currently do.
- They’ve clearly just connected as there may a 1/1,000,000 chance that I can help them.
Do you think this is likely to be a successful strategy?
Of course not. It can also be quite frustrating for those on the receiving end.
Before I go any further, I’m not saying that I haven’t proactively engaged with people on the platform.
I have sent ‘cold’ emails to Linkedin connections about my podcast and my website. BUT, there are 3 reasons why I feel OK doing this…
- I’m not asking for money/job
- It’s a free resource that I have created
- I genuinely think that it may be valuable for them
To me, that makes it very different to a cold sales pitch. The person can read the email quickly and choose not to listen or use it. That’s cool.
The key here is that I’m focusing on giving rather than taking. There are too many people on Linkedin who just want to take, and I think that is a massive mistake.
Worst sales pitch ever
The reality that for people that go straight in for the kill, there is almost ZERO chance that I am going to buy anything off them. Unless they are very, very fortunate and happen to offer me something that I am looking for at the time (and can’t find!).
Maybe it works for them, though I can’t understand how it can be effective.
One thing I do know though. It’s not a relationship-building approach. Which is what it should be.
You should apply the same logic to ‘your business’. In other words, your career.
Everything you do on the Linkedin platform needs to have relevance and context. If you approach someone, you’ll get much better results if your mindset is one of helping rather than selling. This applies whether it relates to your career or your business.
In the context of job-hunting. A similar poor Linkedin example would be this one….
You guessed it, I am neither at this time. Don’t get me wrong here, I do appreciate genuine attempts at engagement. But this is email purely speculative and has no relevant context.
But, blindly sending CV’s or Resume’s to people without figuring out who they are and what they do?
That’s probably going to get you nowhere. Fast.
Though hopefully you can see, it isn’t that difficult to outperform those that are using Linkedin the wrong way.
Should you pay for Linkedin?
If you ever feel like it would be valuable, you can eventually upgrade to one of the paid LinkedIn subscriptions; Premium Career, Business Plus, LinkedIn Learning, Sales Navigator (three levels), and Recruiter Lite.
With that said, most of us will get plenty of value from the free version!
There are some restrictions to having an unpaid profile, but you will get:
- Professional profile of skills, experiences, and more
- Some insight into who’s viewed your profile
- Ability to see 100 profiles per search
- Ability to save three searches
- Ability to request connections with 3000 people
Your value proposition
One thing to remember, is to write your profile as a value proposition. So potential employers, customers and partners can recognize the advantage of working with you.
Once your profile is complete, you can publish it and start looking for “connections.”
A connection is a person that you know or would like to know.
Essentially, the idea is to create as many direct connections as you can by adding people within your own professional circle and branching out to include their connections.
Your connections can also provide introductions to other professionals you might be interested in meeting.
Connections can also endorse you for skills and provide you with recommendations.
How to use Linkedin
If you treat your career as a business, Linkedin is your shop window and employer’s or businesses are your potential customers. Let’s take a look at some ways that you can really use Linkedin to it’s strengths to help your goals.
What is Linkedin for? – 10 tips to get started…..
1. Create & optimise your profile
Once you sign up for a LinkedIn account, either free or paid, you can create your own professional profile.
Ask yourself what you want from your Linkedin profile and then align your profile as far as possible.
Taking the HSE market as an example, it is currently very competitive.
So you need to decide what type of role you want to go after i.e. industry type, seniority level etc. Get as specific as possible.
Once you have decided what you want your profile to convey. Make sure to align your summary, work experience, projects and images closely to that specific area.
Remember, this is a professional-minded website. It’s important that information in your profile represents your business, career and your goals.
LinkedIn is not really the place to share cute baby photos or party pictures. Those types of posts may get fleeting attention because we are predisposed to ‘Liking’ them on Facebook.
But realistically, it won’t help your career or your business on Linkedin.
A couple of little elements to think about are your tagline – mine is ‘HSE – Risk – Engagement‘. It is quite broad but reflects the fact that I am a Chartered H&S Practitioner, Chartered Environmentalist and work with businesses to manage risk and improve engagement.
You can put whatever you want in here and get specific if it makes sense for you. This helps people search for you more easily and will get you in front of the right people.
Another important part of your profile for search purposes is your actual URL. You can edit this to align with your tag line and profile, here’s mine……
If you are trying to get a certain type of job, you should align your profile to fit that goal.
Once you specify the role you want e.g. SHEQ manager – drill down in the key aspects of your skillset and how you can actually add value to a business. Then share it.
Also, add more detail in your job descriptions. Make sure you have succinct detail of the responsibilities that you had.
If you have time, provide a short case-study of how you contributed to a successful project.
2. Sharp profile image – ‘shop window’
Firstly, you need to put a high quality photo of yourself in the profile section. Make sure it is recent and fresh looking.
Not your corporate from 1989 when you were 23 with lots of hair, no wrinkles and no idea.
It’s obvious when people do this, and looks like you care more about your image than anything else.
The background wallpaper is also a great opportunity. To make it relevant e.g. a site photo for example (with permission) and consider getting a more professional photo taken for your profile picture.
Here’s what I’ve done with my own. It’s taken with a pretty decent camera but you can do the same with a smartphone and a white wall behind you.
Maybe it’s a personal thing but I like to see someone with a smile on their face. What is with all these corporate photos with everyone looking so damn serious?
I’d rather look approachable and happy and I think it conveys a better image.
Take a look at some of the profile photos on Linkedin. They are generally of pretty poor quality.
People looking stiff and emotionless. Bad quality selfies. Posing like it’s Instagram (HINT: it’s not!) The list continues.
It’s a very worthwhile 15 minutes to take a decent photo of yourself to put in your ‘shop window’.
The point is, there is lots of potential for you to use that background to let people know what you are about.
3. Number of connections
You need to grow your connection base – Linkedin allows you to request connections with 3000 people proactively.
Why would you not take advantage of being able to proactively connect with 3000 people that have similar interests to you?
Start connecting today with relevant people in your locality or proposed industry and tell them why you want to connect i.e. to share knowledge, build your local HSE network etc.
20 years ago that wouldn’t have been possible.
Well, maybe it was possible but you would have to go to networking events, cold-call people or go just take business cards off everyone you met.
If would have taken a lot of time and effort.
One thing you can do to make sure your connection requests stand a chance of being successful.
Type up a little bit of blurb to tell the person ‘why’ you think it is beneficial for them to connect to you.
It may be just that you look up to them and would like to learn from them and their network, that is OK!
The more personal and relevant you can make this, then the more chance you have of getting a new connection.
4. Using direct mail
Once you are connected with people you can email them directly. Most folks will pick up and read their emails. Especially if they realise you genuinely want to speak to them and it’s not a sales pitch.
I have used direct email to connect with people to get them onto my podcast.
I don’t know most of these people personally, but they are aware of my work via Linkedin and I’m offering them something of value i.e. free content creation.
This is a win-win proposal so builds relationships quickly and effectively.
Remember, the growth of your network is closely correlated to your success on the platform.
That leads us nicely on to the next important point….
5. Genuine engagement
Whenever I approach someone on Linkedin to work in collaboration, I’ve usually engaged with them on the platform at some point (or vice versa).
This is important as although they may be connected with you, it doesn’t mean they are aware of you.
So you need to engage in conversation, contribute to debate and show your interested in relative subjects. You need to get over your fear of being judged by what you say.
Linkedin is a forgiving platform in the sense that it isn’t subject to trolling in the same way some others. This is due to the level of professionalism that is expected.
6. Posting ‘original’ content
I know you may be knowledgeable & quite active on the platform. But do you post your own stuff? If you want to get noticed, I would suggest you think about getting some original stuff out there to start conversations of your own.
Check this out – only 3 million of the 250 million monthly users share content on a weekly basis – just a touch over 1% of monthly users. That means 3 million users are getting 9 billion content impressions each week. Need I say more?
Start creating content, you will find that this is a great way to get chatting with potential employers/future colleagues. Over time, you’ll connect to more people and take more conversations offline.
Here are couple of examples of when this has worked for me….
Pretty good advertising for my podcast don’t you think? 16,000 views and lots engagement and discussion.
Here’s another post below that created a huge amount of attention by asking a simple question and generating debate, 45000+ views……
There’s one thing that is important to understand. To drive engagement you must get stuck into the conversation with your network.
The questions I have asked so far are ones which interest me. Such as, topics within which there are conflicting opinions and where it is valuable to generate discussions amongst fellow professionals.
7. Showcase your work
Linkedin allows you to post ‘Featured’ media content as part of your profile to demonstrate your abilities – why would you not utilise this, it could be a game changer!
If you don’t feel like you have anything suitable for this, go and make it!!
Here’s a snap of how I use it to share some of the content produced by Safeti….
As you can see below, when you click on any of these links the image appears.
The beauty about this is that a link is embedded into the image. When a person click ‘View’ you can see below , it takes them straight to the content!
8. Personal brand
In regard to your current employer – building your own personal brand online is a no-brainer. Some people are worried that their employer may think they are using Linkedin to get another job.
If your employer is a bit old school, maybe you need to explain to them why you use it i.e. to engage with fellow professionals & service providers and to share knowledge, best practice etc.
It actually can be used to demonstrate that you are keeping in touch with your profession and any trends within the area that you work.
Provided you don’t post or say anything obvious as re; to seeking a new position, I don’t think there is anything to be concerned about.
9. How are you doing?
And lastly, here’s a great little trick to check how well you are doing after you implement some of this advice. Go to linkedin.com/sales/ssi and you’ll get this screen below.
This is cool….
Linkedin has a set of metrics called the Social Selling Index (SSI). It gives you an insight into your profile performance on the Linkedin platform.
According to this snapshot, I’m good at building relationships (woohoo!) and establishing my personal brand. Hence why I wanted to share what I have learned with you!
However, it’s the negative parts you really want to focus upon as that’s where you can direct your effort. I need to focus a bit more on engaging and connecting with the right people according to the Linkedin algorithm.
This is a really simple way of tracking your progress with your profile to see if you are heading in the right direction. Check yours out to see what opportunities for improvement you have for this year!
If you have connections who you worked with successfully in the past e.g. past employers, clients, collaborators. Why not ask them for a recommendation?
Peer-to-peer recommendations can be very powerful and you should utilise this tool on Linkedin. I’ve only started to take advantage of this myself, so I’m late to the party. Here’s some of the great feedback I have got from my collaborative work…..
Hopefully you can 100% see why this would be highly valuable to any prospective employers or clients. This is not your own opinion of yourself. It is subjective opinions from other people based on their experience of working with you, which is much more valuable.
It’s living proof that you have delivered on projects and maintained strong relationships with past partners or employers.
You can actually send a ‘request for recommendation’ to any of your connections by going to their profile and clicking on the ‘More..’ section.
You get out, what you put in!
Lots of people think they just deserve to get headhunted because they copy and pasted their CV onto Linkedin. ?
Of course, that is not reality. As with most things in life, you get out of Linkedin, what you put into it.
Linkedin has become a very useful platform for me. Hopefully, some of the tips I’ve shared can help you raise your social media game to help boost your career in 2019.
Over to you. Good luck!
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