LinkedIn now commands a staggering 800+ million users in more than 200 countries. It is arguably the top destination for professionals worldwide to network with other professionals for multiple different business needs. LinkedIn also offers a wide range of additional services that come with paid subscriptions, such as LinkedIn Learning, Job Seeker, Sales Navigator, and Recruiter. Each of these services adds powerful tools to a professional’s specific needs at a reasonable price.
To get the most out of LinkedIn, there are a few key elements that each user will need to spend some time developing. The first and most important is to create a complete and accurate profile, then reach a minimum of 500 connections, and stay active. There are, of course, more steps that will further strengthen the results you see from LinkedIn, but these 3 are the foundational elements that generate the most results.
These 7 Steps will help you implement the foundational elements:
- Customize Your URL. To do this, go to the ‘Edit Profile’ screen and select ‘Edit your custom URL,’ select a new URL and save it. Now you have a personalized LinkedIn profile address that is clean and easy to read and matches your name. When you share or add your customized URL to other media (I.e., email signature, resume), it will look cleaner and be a shorter link than the default URL LinkedIn assigned to your profile when you created an account.
- Pick the Right Profile and Background Photo. A business professional should have a good headshot photo that can be used as needed, not just on LinkedIn. If a professional head-shot is not in the budget, ask someone you know to take some photos of you using a phone camera set on portrait mode. Dress sharp, be mindful of the background, and you are all set.
- Add or Update Current Contact Information. The goal with LinkedIn is to network and to work with others for mutual benefit and so making it easy for others to reach you is a very important step. To update your contact information, select the link ‘Contact Info’ below your name. Adding a cell number is a personal choice but at minimum, adding a current email address is important. Please also be careful with your email address; “firstname.lastname@example.org” sends multiple wrong signals and should be avoided.
- Ask for Recommendations. Getting relevant and credible recommendations might be one of the most powerful elements on LinkedIn because they act as a form of ‘testimonial’ or a ‘review’ of who you are and what you do in business. I’ve found that about 20% of people will write a recommendation when you request it through LinkedIn. However, that number gets closer to 100% when you personally call your contacts and ask for a favor to write a recommendation for you. Be selective of whom you ask and try to get a diverse group of professionals to give feedback that best exemplifies what skills or experience you most want to showcase.
- Use all Relevant Sections. There are a lot of optional sections available for your LinkedIn profile. Of course, they all don’t need to be used, but the more information you add, the better LinkedIn will work for you. A great example is adding additional languages. Even if you have a beginner-level ability to speak another language, it’s recommended that you add that to your profile. This additional element can open opportunities that may not have otherwise been available to you. Some additional top suggestions are education, licenses & certifications, volunteer experience, skills & endorsements.
- Build at least 500 Connections. The right number of connections to have on LinkedIn is open to some debate, but a highly recommended number is a minimum of 500, and that is for a few reasons. LinkedIn only shows your number of connections up to 500, and so it’s become the minimum bar per-say for the number of connections users should have. Less than 500 can signal that the person has not built a strong network over their education and career. Connections act like any other form of marketing, the more contacts you have, the better but even stronger is the quality of your connections. As you leverage LinkedIn to drive your goals, your connections can be instrumental in making those goals happen.
- Give Back. Stay active on LinkedIn just as you might with other social media platforms. Share quality and relevant articles, write and post articles, and add comments to posts on those topics that inspire you. As you do this, be sure to give back to your connections by lending a helping hand when possible. This could mean congratulating someone on a new promotion or introducing them to someone else in your network that might be able to assist them. This is the purpose and power of LinkedIn.