25 Tips to Rock LinkedIn

At the recent New Start Scotland Exhibition event, as part of the NSDesign social media suite of workshops, I was asked to present something. I chose the ten-year old platform of LinkedIn as my subject. Since several people asked for a copy of the “slides” after it, I thought I’d create a blog post instead.

I started off with some background comments, and by recommending that people turn off their notifications BEFORE embarking on any tweaking of their profiles. Then asked people what their actual “GOAL” is for social media. Like every other platform out there, LI works best when you have a strategy in place. You need measurable goals that you’re actually working toward or what’s the point in being on there?

What I presented was both a matter of opinion (my own opinion of course), and a variety of “best practices” too. I probably read an average of one LinkedIn article a day. I added a disclaimer that basically said that I wasn’t claiming my profile was “the best profile ever” – to be honest, it’s a constant work in progress. As I learn more, I adjust it.

Here we go!

1) A profile picture (minimum 200×200; max 500×500). Ensure it’s not left blank, or a logo in its place. It shouldn’t be a “selfie” from a night out with your pals, or one with your spouse or kids. Make it a professional studio “headshot” if at all possible. People want to see who they’re dealing with. Put your best foot forward. Profiles with pictures are said to be viewed seven times more often than ones that don’t have a profile picture. Get the picture!? (Pun intended).

2) Make a Headline that Shines (120 characters). If you don’t change it, your headline will simply be your current job title. Why not change it to include relevant keywords for search engine optimization? Google and LinkedIn seem to share a good symbiotic relationship. So if you do it right, by that I mean choosing the right words, you just may find that you can rank on page one in Google by changing your headline to reflect the right terms. Try to show the benefit of connecting to you to your potential (and current) contacts.

3) Succinct Summary (2000 max characters). To me, this isn’t the place to write your full life story or bullet point your full career, but perhaps an opportunity to show who you are in a more rounded sense. Give the reader a little insight into who you are – not just what you DO. Be authentic, use keywords, show some personality, and don’t forget some sort of call to action at the end of it.
Grab your custom URL on Linkedin today
4) URLS (30 characters). There are two areas in your profile that you should take advantage of:

A. Your customized URL (usually this is your name). Your URL is found right below your photo on LinkedIn. (See right). Click edit and make it meaningful!

Thankfully, for me, there is only one Thea Newcomb! (Accept no substitutes). 🙂

B. Anchor Text/ Back Links The other areas you want to claim are your various website links. These are in the “contact info” area of your profile, and they’ll say things like “Company Website” or “Personal Website”. You can choose from Blog, Company Website, Portfolio, etc.

Update your URL on LinkedinIf you choose “Other” you can then tell people what the name of the site is. Like everywhere else on your LinkedIn profile, use those relevant keywords! I can’t believe how many profiles I see out there where it’s not been used properly. It’s another place for SEO juice, as it were, so please take advantage of it and give the link a relevant name!

5) Experience and Education Put your high school, college, university, and any business training or certification on there too. When writing your experience out, be sure to expand on the title and company, and avoid just highlighting your whole resume verbatim. It’s boring. Strike a happy balance between not telling too much and leaving it sparse.
Show your Interests on Linkedin
6) Be Interesting. In the Interests section, paint a picture about who you are, mix up personal interests with business interests. What’s your JOY? Tell us. Mine ranges from movies and music to blogging and technology.

For the fun of it I put in “roller skating” and actually found 10 other people who’d written that on their profiles too. (Good to know there are a few of us left)

7) Projects. Have you produced a video, written an ebook, created presentations, or have other work-related samples of images and documents? Then add them as Projects to your profile. This is an excellent place for you to prove your worth, your credibility, your experience. Use it.

8 ) Status Updates (700 characters max – less if you’ve connected your profile to Twitter). A lot of people ask me what they should be putting on their status updates. I would recommend things like any press articles you or your company receive, business related news stories (or any stories relevant to your sector), inspirational quotes, ask a question (poll your connections), and suggest using a link shortener like Bit.Ly or TinyUrl. Avoid being too personal or insensitive to your connections – in other words try to keep fairly neutral. You never know the religious beliefs, politics or sports teams supported, or other things that could cost you later work or collaboration! Be wise.

9) Shuffle Your Profile Around. Put your most important or biggest achievements to the top of the profile. If you have amazing education, move it up – front and center! If you have fantastic career achievements, then put them up near the top. Do place whatever you feel is your greatest achievement as high up as possible. Do what it takes to grab the potential boss/associate/etc early on!

customize your view on Linkedin10) Export your Profile to PDF. If for no other reason, you might want to export your profile to PDF to see what it looks like. When you do, you’ll find a clean-looking, text-only, CV-like document is what is produced.

This can be handy if, for instance, you need to provide someone with your background info, and they’re not connected to you on LinkedIn yet.

11) Customize Your View. When you land on Linkedin.com, you’ll see a variety of information – all of which you are in control of.

If you’re not interested in looking for some work, why not turn off the job notifications. It’s under “All Updates” then the bottom one “Customize”. Then you can select the relevant information to you, and how many features you’d like to view. That’s a very handy tool to personalise your experience.

12) Update Your Profile Regularly. I’d recommend changing/updating your profile quarterly (if not monthly). Do it as often as you have information to add or subtract. Pay attention to keywords and relevancy. Less is more – which I am known to forget at times!

13) Connectiquette. When writing the New Start talk, I combined “Connecting” with “Etiquette” to produce this word – and was dead proud of myself! One search in Google, however, revealed  someone had beat me to coining the term! Darn it. Still worth using it!

There are a few pet peeves of mine when it comes to people reaching out on LinkedIn. The top one is people not personalizing the message. The default simply says “Please add me to your network”.

I am a bit of fan of letting people know who you are, why you want to connect. Even if you’ve not met in person – if there’s an interest, a group, a person in common, then mention it. I do realise that if you’re connecting on the iPhone or iPad app, this capability is NOT available, which is a huge FAIL, in my opinion, on their part.

So I’d recommend connecting on a desktop when you are able to provide some relevant info to the person you’re reaching out to. Unless you’re pretty darn certain they’ll know who you are or why you want to connect. That’s just my personal suggestion.

14) Message “Thanks”. Once someone has accepted your contact request, consider thanking them. At the very least, please don’t make the next message a sales message! If I accept your request and your next message is to try to sell me your product or service, then it’s likely I’ll just remove you. I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way. Build a bit of rapport and then tell me why I should hear your pitch! People buy people. Get to know each other a bit first.

15) Ways to Connect on LinkedIn. For me personally, I start with entering any business card that I receive, into the search field at the top of LinkedIn. You can use an APP like Card Munch to do that for you – if you’re an iPhone user (which I’m not). People I know who use it, love it!

– You can simply try to search your contact names off the top of your head in the search bar.
– Search your contacts’ contacts if they’re ‘open’. (NOTE: Some people choose to hide their connections*).
– Ask someone to introduce you to someone you’d like to connect with who is connected to them already.
– Check the “People You May Know” (I do this just about everyday and there is usually at least one either I do actually know or whom I want to know). Very handy!
– Check who’s viewed your profile – if they’re not in Stealth Mode (as I call it).

16) Join Groups & Engage. A great aspect of LinkedIn, one of my faves actually, is the sheer amount of groups that you can find on there. There are industry specific groups, there are special interest groups, location groups, you name it there is a group for you.

Personally I am a big fan of the Glasgow, and Glasgow Entrepreneurs groups (if you’re local), but like Business Inside, Those in Media, SEO in Scotland, and many many others on there too. I’d not go beyond about ten groups or you’re not going to be able to keep up and actively engage. No point in joining a ton of groups if you’re not going to actually use them. Oh and please don’t join groups as a method of spamming and self promotion. I know many group administrators who will ban if you if you attempt to spam them. As permission before posting something that is self-promotion orientated.

17) Sync ’em. If you use Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook or an iPhone Address book, you may wish to sync your account with LI to find people who are already on there. Be careful though. You may already be connected to people on LinkedIn and when it combs through your address book it might find other email addresses and automatically sends invites to those other addresses. So consider double checking before connecting! That is how people end up having 2 profiles (or more) by not realising.

18) Endorse & Recommend Connections. Once you’ve got contacts on LinkedIn, you might be wondering “Now what?”

If you have people you truly have enjoyed working with or who did a good job for you, then consider writing them a recommendation. [Of course you can ask people to write them for you as well, if you think they’d do so favourably].

The Endorsements sometimes get a bad rap, but they can actually help in people’s perceptions of you. So if I claim to be a “Social Media” expert, and I have no recommendations for that, are you going to want to use me for Social Media Training? Erm, probably not.

Personally I will only “endorse” someone whose skills match my perceptions when it pops up. So if “Joe Blogs” is a business consultant and I don’t associate “contract law” with his skills, I’d not endorse him just for the sake of it. But again – do what works for you. I’m just saying what I do…

You should tag your contacts on linkedin19) TAG Them. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to TAG people in LinkedIn. It’s a whole lot easier if you’re new to LI, and start by tagging as you go, than going back over several hundred people, and applying the tags after the fact!

So what are they? They are a simple way of categorizing your connections. My biggest tag is probably “Glasgow”. This is very handy if I have an event happening in Glasgow, and I want to target all of my Glasgow contacts which might be interested in attending it.

I also have tags for “Social Media” (other people who do SM for a living), “Radio” (fellow presenters past/present), “Alumni” (People I went to college/uni with), “Networking” (people I met through organized Networking events, usually in Glasgow), “Friends” (guess what that ones for!), “SF/Bay Area” and most recently, “I Trained” – which means I’ve met them due to training them either via Business Gateway or somewhere else…

Again these tags can help you filter out contacts by sector, group, category etc. Very handy don’t you think?
where to hide a connection on linkedin
20) Hide Them. It’s a bummer, but sometimes people post too often, or it’s inappropriate, uninteresting (to you any way!) content, links, status updates etc. If they’re someone you might like to stay connected with but simply see less of them, then simply “hide” them from your stream. See the blue “hide” on the right of this picture – under “All Updates”? There. (Of course, I’d not hide Isabel or Andrew as they’re two very worth connections…Ha!)

Do you want to hide your connections on Linkedin?21. Hide Connections. You may or may not wish to hide the connections you have. You do this in your “privacy & settings” (privacy controls, profile tab).

I personally don’t hide mine, but you may have competitors that might look to see who you’re connected to, and might hone in on them.

Some people are just like that…Please note, any mutual connections you have will always be shown, regardless.

Hide your visibility while searching on Linkedin22. Stealth Mode* (Anonymity on LinkedIn). I am not sure if I read this term somewhere, or just made it up myself…Stealth is what it feels like though. If you wish to remain anonymous on LI, you can choose what people see when you visit their profile.

Though this is likely to be exceptionally appealing to stalkers, it might also be something you genuinely choose to do for legitimate reasons too.

For instance, say you’re doing some research on your network itself, or you’re checking out a competitor, you’re visiting the profile of someone you might hire or may want to do business with, you won’t always want them to see you’ve been looking at their profile.

There are three levels available > totally visible (name and headline appear), generic (like it sounds), and totally anonymous (which you can see in the picture above, the bottom option). My visibility is currently hidden – not for any nefarious reasons, I just choose to be anonymous.

Like anything in life, such a choice has its pros and cons. If you’d like to read a bit more about this, I did find this blog “How to Stay Anonymous on LinkedIn” which may be useful to you.

23) Alternate Email Address. People change jobs, people change email providers, and so sometimes our email addresses change. To avoid setting up a whole new profile, mistakenly or otherwise, add a back up email address that is a “constant”.

So in other words you may have signed up with your name@yourcompany.com address and then, if you left that company and no longer had access to its email inbox, you might be locked out. (I’ve heard this happen to a few people in the last month actually).

So in addition to your company email – why not add a Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, whatever email address too? One that you’ll likely always have access to.

24) Who can Connect? Did you know that you can decide who can connect with you or how many hoops someone has to jump through to connect with you? This can be handy, if you’re one of those super-popular types who gets all kinds of connection requests (funny I don’t suffer from such a hardship)…

Here are a few choices you have: a) Anyone on LinkedIn. b) Only people who know your email address or who appear in your “Imported Contacts” list c) Only people who appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.
Who can Connect with you on LinkedinSo again if you’re getting too many (you lucky thing) – why not weed out people by choosing “b” or “c”?

25) Promote your profile. This is something we should all be doing. Promote the fact you’re on LI in your email signature file or on your website. You can add it to your Google+ profile, your Facebook profile, Twitter, or anywhere you can add links. Promote your LinkedIn profile all over. Doesn’t it make sense?

Well that’s about it. There were a few more points I touched upon briefly in the actual talk at New Start Scotland, but these 25 points were the main tips. If you need some one-to-one Social Media training or tuition on LinkedIn, then please get in touch with me on LinkedIn! I’d be only too happy to help!

NOTE: I do promote my LinkedIn profile over on my personal theanewcomb.co.uk blog…

PS: Oh yeah, here was the very last “slide” – click it to view a larger image.

Last slide of 25 Tips to Rock LinkedinThanks for reading and sharing this blog. I appreciate your time. Feel free to add any of your tips in the comments below!