Hi Mark. Firstly. Why is it so important to have a LinkedIn profile?
LinkedIn remains the only professional business networking site where people can conduct research on both organisations and individuals. Personally, if I’m meeting someone for business, going to a job interview or attending an event of some kind I want to prepare by getting as much information prior to the meeting as possible. This demonstrates that I have done my research and allows me to pre-empt the conversations that may take place.
When researching an individual, typically your first port of call would be to look them up on Google. One of the first things that comes up is that individual’s social media channels – including LinkedIn. Therefore, even if you are not a regular LI user, it is likely to play a part in your research.
Making sure that you present yourself well on LinkedIn not only attracts the right people but gives them the first set of information that they are looking for. Your LinkedIn profile is essentially ‘you’…. It could help people make the decision regarding whether to meet you in person or not.
When looking to grow your LinkedIn Network what is more important – quantity or quality?
Forget LinkedIn just for a moment – let’s think about networking more generally. When networking face to face, some people like to attend big events and run around meeting as many people as possible – their aim is to get 50 business cards by the end of the meeting. Others at the same event prefer to have 2 or 3 in-depth conversations with the right people. It depends on what each individual is looking to achieve and exactly the same thing applies to LinkedIn.
I personally think that quality is more important than quantity. Having a strong network means that you can tap into it more readily and it’s more likely to deliver value. However, there are certain aspects of LinkedIn that benefit from quantity – or a larger network. Having a larger network will allow you to be visible to more people which can be a real benefit but of course the downside is that the links within your network are weaker.
What’s the best way to approach a new contact
Again, let’s think about networking face to face. We walk into a room and often see people we know – it’s easy for us to go up to these individuals and say ‘Hi’. What’s less comfortable for many of us is going up to people that we haven’t met before and instigating a conversation. Ideally, we would get introduced – perhaps by someone we already know. It’s the same with LinkedIn – if someone we want to connect to is already linked to one of our connections it can be a fantastic ice breaker.
If we don’t have that introduction and we have to introduce ourselves, it is important to remember to do so properly – say ‘Hello’ and explain why you are keen to meet them. So often on LinkedIn people try to connect without a personal message of introduction – this is like walking up to someone, thrusting your business card in their hand and walking off again! By relying on the standard LinkedIn connection message you lose the opportunity to make a great first impression and your new connection may have no idea why you want to speak with them.
Always think about how you would behave in a face to face networking environment and then apply that to LinkedIn -when it comes down to it it’s the same thing. Forget the technology and just speak to people!
How often should you be active on your LinkedIn page?
It largely depends how you want to use LinkedIn and what your goals are. If you’re looking for a job and new jobs come up every day for example then you need to be on there every day! If there is no such need, 20 mins twice a week will keep things ticking over. There’s no standard time as such – it really depends on what you are using it for.
I don’t know what to post – where should I start?
Firstly, your news feed shows updates that your connections have posted or perhaps ‘liked’ or ‘shared’. You’ll also see updates from companies that you’re interested in and that you have followed. Look through this feed for anything of particular interest to you and comment on posts to effectively enter into conversation. You’re not initiating new content in this way but you are participating and engaging.
If you wish to start a conversation yourself, a good place to start is by looking through the news or at industry specific sites and finding something that is of particular interest to you. Simply copy the link, post it into a new thread and add your own commentary.
Asking questions on LinkedIn can also be very engaging.
Should you have a background image on your profile page or should it be left neutral?
It can be useful as a differentiator – it’s an area that is very prominent at the top of your profile. Leaving it blank is almost like having the homepage of your website with just text and no images! As people, we respond well to imagery. It can be difficult to think about what to put – try to go for something relevant – eg if you’re a writer, a background of pencils may be nice. Keep it professional and avoid holiday snaps or photos of you on the golf course!
What advice would you give to a job seeker using LinkedIn for research purposes?
Always follow the company page of organisations that you are interested in– this will give you the information that the company deem to be important about themselves. If you click through to the company page you will find a link showing all people who work at that organisation. You can apply a filter and look at people who work in HR or who perhaps work in the department that you are interested in. You may want to see whether you can be introduced to some of these people via mutual contacts or, if not, introduce yourself by sending a personalised introduction. So many job vacancies are simply never advertised – they are filled internally or by contacts – you need to try and ensure that you are one of these contacts.
Remember also the ‘jobs’ area of LinkedIn – you can search for jobs by criteria and save these searches so that any new roles are e-mailed to you – this is a really useful function to automate the job search process so you can concentrate on talking to people!
If a job seeker has now found a new role how should they amend their approach?
When you are looking for a job you have a certain audience – typically HR Managers, Line managers and agencies. Your goal for being on LinkedIn is to get an interview with these people and your profile needs to work hard as your ‘shop window’.
As soon as you get that new role your goal changes. Depending on your position, you may be using your profile to attract and speak to new customers, get a meeting and show them the value of working with you. The information you need to provide will need to be very different – your audience has changed and so has your end game. Potential customers do not care if you are a great team player – they would prefer to know how other companies have benefitted from using your product or service.
Change how you present yourself and who you connect with but remember that the fundamental rules around connecting remain the same.
4 steps to LinkedIn Success