How to use LinkedIn

Linkedin how toWhen LinkedIn is brought up many of people say “I don’t understand what it does,” or “I don’t know how to use it.” Are you one of those people?

Consider this:  According to the Pew Research Center, LinkedIn subscribers are especially high among people that have bachelor’s degrees and make $75,000 or more a year. Aren’t these the people you want to connect with professionally?

No matter what kind of job you are looking for, having a strong, polished online presence can help professionals reach you.

So how do you use LinkedIn to its full potential?

When you initially set up a profile with LinkedIn, the social media site will walk you through the process of getting your professional network established.

The first thing that LinkedIn will ask you to do is upload a picture. Remember that this is a professional site, so you should choose a professional picture. If you don’t have one, put on a blazer or business casual outfit and recruit someone to take a few for you to choose from.

Next, LinkedIn will ask questions such as: What is your past job experience, what kind of skills you have, what is your educational experience, etc. If you don’t have an appropriate answer for some of the questions, that’s okay because you can skip them. However, if you do have an answer, be sure to fill it out completely and professionally

Now that you have your profile set up, the next step is to connect with people and build your network.

In order to connect with someone you must have a relationship with them in some way. It might be someone from work or someone you used to know in school. You might have their contact information, like an email to show you have connected with them before. Perhaps you have this information from a recently acquired business card. If you want to use this as your contact reference, and you have just met the person, do it very soon after meeting. This keeps you top-of-mind and gives you an opportunity to use LinkedIn as a way to continue that introductory conversation.

Another thing to consider when connecting with someone is the invitation message. This is the equivalent of the “Friend Request” in Facebook. You are essentially asking someone to be part of your professional network. LinkedIn offers generalized messages to help, such as “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn,” but if you are trying to impress someone or remind someone of a prior meetings (perhaps at a job fair or trade show), a helpful tip is to customize the message. A simple template to follow is:

“ Hello_____, we met yesterday at ___________and I enjoyed speaking with you.

 I would like to talk more about what you do; I am really interested in that industry.”

This template of course should be customized for your audience, but it allows you to stand out from the crowd that defaults to the template messages.

Linkedin profile strengthAs you build your connections and your profile, be sure to reference your profile strength that is located to the right of your profile page. There are 5 levels of LinkedIn Profile Strength: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert and All Star. If you don’t reach All Star on your first day using the site, don’t worry. Your strength will improve as you add information to your profile and that takes time and experience.