I get really excited when I start talking to people about promoting themselves on LinkedIn, and for good reason.
While all social media channels are excellent tools to help define your personal brand and promote your professional self, LinkedIn is the granddaddy platform you need to be using. By maximizing your LinkedIn use, you’re effectively building a personal site, blog, professional network, portfolio, list of references, and so much more. LinkedIn’s platform is set up to automatically act as your own professional billboard, which is what you want if you’re going to invest your time and energy into growing your social media presence for professional growth.
Unfortunately, LinkedIn is often underused by the business professionals who could reap the most rewards from its endless list of benefits. It’s a tough fact to face, but if you’re busy with your job, career, side hustle, or whatever you’re passionately investing your time in, you often don’t have the kind of time required to create the ideal LinkedIn presence. Luckily, I’ve put together a quick list of ways to immediately upgrade your profile from “meh, it exists” to “this business professional is clearly the influencer in their field.”
Your Photo Matters
I know, I know. Everybody and their brother has told you a selfie isn’t going to cut it for your LinkedIn profile photo. But that’s because it’s true. You know what else is true? Your significant other, family members, babies, or super adorable kittens and puppies also don’t make the cut. This is a space to showcase yourself at the top of your professional game. If you have the time and funds, invest in a photographer to snap and edit a few pics of you looking snazzy in a blazer or your best professional outfit. If not, it’s time to wrangle that significant other, best friend, or business partner who you’ve been cropping out of your current profile pic to take a few shots of you looking chipper with a clean background.
Engage, Engage, then Engage Some More
Engaging on LinkedIn can be defined as several different actions. The most obvious of which is liking and commenting on the updates, article publications, and shares of your network. Building those relationships is a crucial part of maintaining an active presence and promoting your personal brand. However, you can also engage by joining relevant groups, following different thought influencers in your field, and linking out to articles and publications that showcase both updates in your field and in your career.
Focus Your Content
By focusing the content you publish and share on LinkedIn, you’re showcasing the skills you’ve acquired in your current and previous professional roles as well as promoting your knowledgeability. Not sure where your focus should be placed? Write a list of topics you deal with in your day-to-day, or industry trends that interest you. Your focus doesn’t need to be on a single idea. In fact, focusing on 2-5 areas of expertise can grow your profile into the information hub you want it to be. Pick what you’re passionate about, and go from there. It pays to be true to yourself and your interests, especially when you look to connect with others who are likeminded in their pursuits.
Optimize for Optimal Results
Optimizing content isn’t just for big name websites and professional blogs, it can also be used to update your profile and expand your network reach. By including keywords that you want your network or potential connections to associate with your professional presence, you’re increasing your searchability. More importantly, you’re fleshing out the details of who you are, what you do, and what you’re passionate about – and all of these things are what will grow your profile and make it shine.
Your Headline and Summary Are Both Important
No, your professional title is not sufficient to be used as a headline. And, no, the job description found on when you applied for your current position doesn’t work as a summary. Your headline and summary need to showcase not only what you’re doing in your current role, but your areas of expertise, and your fields of interest. Use this space to your advantage by promoting your skills, or the credentials of the company you work for. Highlight both what you do and what changes or improvements you’re invested in making. To give you a basic “check these boxes” overview, your summary needs to contain valid keywords, media links to professional accomplishments, and your contact information. Your summary and headline are what make you immediately accessible to your connections, make them work for you rather than having meaningless content take up space on your profile.
Don’t Pad Your Profile
LinkedIn is not your resume. I’m not saying that you should pad your resume, either, because being anyone other than yourself is just asking for trouble. Honestly list your skills and truthfully describe your interests. Your shares, articles, and updates should all be relevant and accurate. Embellishing for the sake of looking smarter, funnier, or more in-the-know will only drive people away, which is the opposite effect you want. Celebrate who you are! You’re a professional rock star in your own right, you don’t have to bedazzle your background or skillset to show people that. I can guarantee that after digging deeply into your career and professional interest sphere you’ll prove to yourself just how amazing you are – and find it that much easier to promote yourself!
Just Remember…You Are Always Interviewing
It doesn’t matter if you have your dream job and your coworkers and managers are all characters out of a fairytale – every moment you spend promoting yourself or engaging with others in your network is a moment spent interviewing. The impressions you make are often fleeting, but they’re final. By investing time in your LinkedIn presence, you’re not only promoting yourself for the present, you’re promoting yourself for five years from now when an amazing opportunity comes up, or when a new job is created in your department, or when a company is looking to go in another direction – your direction. New opportunities are never a bad thing. Whether you take advantage of these new opportunities or not, don’t you want to be the first industry expert who comes to mind when someone has a role to fill?