6 Actionable Steps to Get the Most out of LinkedIn

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It’s always funny to me how some people obsess over their resume and hardly ever update their LinkedIn presence – even though it is the single best tool you’ll have at your disposal to build your own brand. While researching my latest book, Getting to Like, my co-author Ali B. Zagat and I discovered these to be the most effective features of LinkedIn:

1. Analyze who’s viewing your profile
Seeing who’s viewing your profile is helpful, because you can get a better sense of what audience you’re attracting. LinkedIn can give you insights, such as that 45% of your viewers have the title Salesperson. So if your goal is to attract television producers, you can revise the keywords in your profile to start getting noticed by a more relevant audience.

You can also see how you rank in relation to others. At present, I rank in the top 21% for profile views among professionals like myself. This gives me a sense of how well I’m doing at promoting himself on LinkedIn compared to others. Another plus: I can see professionals in similar fields who are doing even better, and learn from their examples. Plus, I’ve used the “Professionals like you” list to find individuals who don’t directly compete with me, and have the potential to become future allies.

2. Carefully review your list of skills
When you’re editing your LinkedIn profile, you can edit the list of Skills you possess. This is helpful, as LinkedIn will often prompt your connections to endorse their connections’ proficiency in various skills. That means you can add the skill Juggling to your profile. Then, your connections will occasionally be asked: “Does _____ know about Juggling?” and they’ll have the option to hit the “Endorse” button.

The more endorsements you get for that skill, the more people will think you’re a lean, mean juggling machine, and all those juggling recruiters will beat a path to your door.

3. Develop a great headline
Your headline should sum you up in a nutshell. If the first thing you want people to know about you is that you’re a keynote speaker, well, that absolutely belongs in the headline. If you are actively exploring new opportunities, that’s the kind of thing you need to consider putting in the headline as well.

As for your company, if it’s not commonly known among your intended audience, include a short but detailed description so your audience can see exactly what the company’s focus is. While plenty of professionals know what Firebrand Group does, I don’t want to take for granted that this audience will necessarily know that it is an agency devoted to futureproofing the marketing and communications strategies of other brands.

4. Develop a compelling summary
People will read your headline, and if you’ve enticed them into reading your profile, the #1 thing they’ll read is your summary. But what should your summary say?

If you were introducing yourself to someone, and you only had 15 seconds, what would you want to have gotten out of your mouth before you run out of time? If you live and breathe museum research, you’ve got to make sure to relate that immediately in your summary. If you happen to have a Pez candy dispenser collection that is unrivaled in the entire country, which is interesting but in no way is something you think defines you professionally, then maybe leave that out.

5. Garner recommendations
Getting recommendations on LinkedIn is one of the most underrated things you can do. Unlike Endorsements, which are your connections’ ways of saying you’re good at specific skills, Recommendations are completely free-form. Your colleagues can write as much or as little as they want.

Of course, people have to actually like you to spend five minutes crafting a nice note about you. To improve your odds of getting a few of your own, why not write some recommendations for those you hold in high esteem? After all, it’s better to give than receive. Once you write a recommendation for others, LinkedIn will ask if you want to send them a brief note asking for one in return.

While you’re at it, why not guide your connections in the right direction? While requesting a recommendation, you can mention some of the attributes that you’re looking to emphasize. If you’re working in a scientific laboratory and looking to pivot into strategy consulting, you can request recommendations highlighting your decision-making, strategic mind, and consulting-relevant projects you have previously tackled.

6. LinkedIn Groups
Using groups takes time, and it’s understandable if you don’t think you have the time to use them consistently. If you feel like you might get some value out of groups, however, set up small chunks of time to check in and see if there are any threads that are interesting to you. You don’t even have to set aside that much time. Maybe ten minutes, twice a week, for starters.

When joining groups, you might be tempted to drop a link to your most recent project and ask people to circulate it immediately, without building relationships in that group. This is not going to work. It’s just like anywhere else– you have to build a relationship before you can ask people to do something for you. Find a few groups that are relevant to you, get active in the discussions there, and build great relationships. People will be interested in commenting on a relevant post in the group as long as you do it in a less-than-spammy way.


Want more on how to build your brand using the latest digital tactics? Check out Getting to Like, my latest book (with co-author Ali B. Zagat), where we cover everything from analytics to content development to picking your social media channels, and more.

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