The Reluctant Executive’s Guide to LinkedIn
Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Each year, LinkedIn is becoming a more important platform for professionals looking to expand their business network, find the next fulfilling role or collaborate on entrepreneurial ventures.
This article is especially for you, if you’re the sort of person that rarely visits LinkedIn, you detest recruiters reaching out and you don’t update your professional details unless you’re looking for a job.
Firstly, I want to address the common complaint about pesky recruiters on LinkedIn. One day you’ll need them, so try to respond to recruiters’ queries with as much grace as you can muster and politely reply with, “no, I’m not interested right now,” rather than ignoring them.
Secondly, you might change your mind about the power of LinkedIn after you read this article and see these statistics:
500 million users from more than 200 countries
3 million active job listings
Data on more than 9 million companies
There are 57% of male users and 44% of female users on LinkedIn
Percentage of users that use LinkedIn daily: 40%
1 million professionals have published posts on LinkedIn
There are over 39 million students and recent grads on LinkedIn
41% of millionaires use LinkedIn
Source: Omnicore agency
While LinkedIn numbers don’t come close to Facebook, which enjoys over 2.13 billion monthly active users, LinkedIn continues to grow and is the preferred platform for business professionals.
So it’s time to take it seriously.
LinkedIn For Career Success And Progression
If you’re someone that has spent little time on LinkedIn in the past, here’s why you should be investing your time today:
In a world of uncertainty, mergers, acquisitions and constant layoffs you need to prepare yourself for the inevitability of one day losing your job. Update your LinkedIn profile summary and position descriptions before that happens and keep it current.
Careers and jobs are no longer for life. You need to constantly update your experience and qualifications to reflect your evolving career so you are better positioned to negotiate the next role.
Your professional reputation is not based on fact. It is based on perception. People use LinkedIn to make a judgement about your experience, intelligence, competence and trustworthiness. Take charge of your reputation by intentionally and thoughtfully managing your personal brand. While you can’t control how others see you, you can shape their perception a great deal.
Many roles are not advertised so it pays to make connections on LinkedIn with your professional network that can introduce you to the right person you may want to work for in their organisation.
LinkedIn is a great business network if you want to meet like-minded professionals to exchange ideas, collaborate on research projects or partner with on entrepreneurial ventures.
You want to increase your knowledge about your discipline or a new industry. LinkedIn is a great platform to tap into some amazing advice and tips from industry thought leaders, innovators and experts. Sure there’s rubbish on the platform too, you just need to make sure you follow the right people and connect with relevant professionals to get the most value out of it.
Here’s What You Need To Do To Improve Your Brand On LinkedIn
1. Photo: Make sure you have a professional, updated photo on LinkedIn. A headshot is best. LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, so a photo of you with your pet snake or husband and wife doesn’t cut it. A clear headshot makes you look professional and trustworthy.
2. Headline: Make sure your headline does two things: uses a job title that is searchable so that recruiters, customers or professional peers can easily find you, and also showcases something unique about you so you stand out from other similar experts. For example, my friend, Steve Hall’s is this: Australia’s Leading Authority on Selling at C Level / Executive Sales Coach / Corporate Storyteller / Devil’s Advocate. ‘Executive Sales Coach’ is the searchable term; the other titles are intriguing and hint at Steve’s unique promise of value to his customers.
3. Summary: The summary section, which is just after the headline, is in my opinion, the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. So spend time crafting it to best reflect the value you have brought or bring to organisations. It’s not so much about you but what you’ve achieved for your employer or your customers. Write your summary also in a way that reveals your personality. For example, I call myself ‘your disruptive collaborator.’
You should avoid using clichés like ‘proven track record,’ ‘extensive experience’ and ‘results oriented.’ They don’t mean anything. Tell a story or provide specific examples how you deliver value. Also minimise typical LinkedIn buzzwords like specialised, focussed, creative, passionate and expert. You’ll sound like everyone else and won’t be able to differentiate your unique professional brand.
If you’re on the lookout for a new role, you should also include searchable keywords and phrases in your summary so recruiters can easily find you. For example, as a cloud architect, you might want to bullet point your area of expertise as ‘experienced in application programming’ or ‘at the forefront of cloud technology adoption’.
4. Experience: The experience section of your LinkedIn profile is where you detail your past roles. Depending on which LinkedIn expert or recruiter you talk to, you should provide plenty of detail around your responsibilities for your current job and previous roles. I don’t disagree; however, my personal preference is to provide a light version of my resume. What everyone agrees with is that the dates and job description details you show on LinkedIn should exactly match what you show on your resume. Otherwise, you may come across as untrustworthy or careless.
5. Connect: It’s important to also continually connect with the right people on LinkedIn such as colleagues, industry peers, customers, prospective customers, suppliers, partners, thought leaders and industry experts you can learn from. If you’re going to ask for a connection request, it’s best to personalise it and tell the person why you want to connect. I personalise my requests 95 per cent of the time and the only time I don’t is when I know the person well and I have worked with them in the real world.
When it comes to thought leaders, I don’t immediately ask for a connection but I follow them and get to know them by commenting on or liking their posts, that is, if I genuinely like what they’re saying or if I have a point of view about their topic. If I’ve been doing this for about 3-6 months, I’ll send a personal connection request. Sometimes they’ll ask to connect with me first as they can see I’m interested in having a genuine conversation.
The point is it’s important to build your connections. Be discriminate but not rigid. For example, I receive a lot of connection requests that aren’t personalised, and I will connect with that person if they fit my criteria, which is that they are an individual that works in the B2B technology space. On the odd occasion, I might connect with someone outside my industry only because they might be an expert on topics I’m constantly learning about like video marketing, marketing analytics, digital marketing or sales leadership. I still reject a lot of connection requests. For example, unless this individual is a friend or relative, I don’t connect with people outside of the technology industry, like a dentist, real estate broker or accountant.
6. Join in: It's also important to participate on LinkedIn by liking the updates and articles of your connections or people you follow. Join the conversation by providing your point of view on topics of interest. You can also curate and re-post your company’s stories or stories by other experts. And if you’re inclined, you can write short or long-form posts and publish to LinkedIn. The main thing is to regularly turn up and get involved. Daily is best but once or twice a week is a good start if you’re not used to being on LinkedIn.
I hope this has provided you with enough information to get started on improving your personal brand using the power of LinkedIn. Future posts will cover things like how to write a compelling and unique profile summary, different ways to write personalised connection requests and how to write a cold InMail request that has the best chance of a reply.
If you want to update your profile summary now and you’re not sure how to write a compelling one, it’s a good idea to look at a variety of profile summaries of similar professionals. You can also search for writers that specialise in writing these for you. Please reach out to me as I can recommend some experts to help you.
The important thing is that you present your professional self on LinkedIn in the best possible light. After all, you are amazing, so make sure the world knows it too!
You may want to read this article which talks about why building a focussed personal brand is important if you want to thrive in the world of work today and tomorrow.