Launched almost 20 years ago, LinkedIn, a popular social media platform for professional networking, helps individuals connect with like-minded users, grow their careers and strengthen professional relationships.
So, how can you make the most of your profile to achieve this?
The platform has evolved to allow individuals to build their own brand. Wildfire Social Marketing LinkedIn Demystifier Jo Saunders provides LinkedIn specific services to clients. Over the last 11 years, she's been witnessing the extent of the platform’s growth first-hand.
“Back when I started, it was focused on people looking for jobs or looking to advance their career,” she said. “Now it has become a tool to network and for content creators to build their thought leadership.”
Ms Saunders explained the importance of a good LinkedIn profile, given how well it ranks on Google and is usually one of the first things which comes up on a Google search for your name.
“It’s the largest database of professional people and the 25th most-viewed website in the world.”
“LinkedIn is probably the easiest entry point because not everybody is going to have the time to be a content creator, or have the inclination or courage, because that takes a bit of putting yourself out there.
“But everybody can get involved in conversations and get visibility for their expertise.”
Ms Saunders said the overall objective of a strong LinkedIn presence is to build relationships with other professionals in the same field, potential clients and strategic partners and eventually communicate one-on-one, whether it’s an email, phone call or in person.
However, with every social media platform there is a downside, one which every LinkedIn user is probably familiar with, spam.
Often from marketing gurus sending automated messages, Ms Saunders described spamming as “growth hacking.”
“Marketers are often opportunists that are trying to growth hack and automate things, but automation and LinkedIn just don’t go.”
“You can't automate relationships and LinkedIn will actually flag you if they catch you using software. Automating content publishing is fine, but not connection and relationship building.”
LinkedIn expert Jo Saunders. Image courtesy of The West Australian
Ms Saunders said she had noticed a shift in how the platform was being used and the content being posted, which now has a relaxed feel.
“I would say LinkedIn's become a lot more human-centric, particularly since COVID-19,” she said.
“Some people will say it's a bit more Facebook, in terms of some of the content being shared, but if you think about it people connect through human connection, so it's definitely become a lot more conversational.
“People are much more real as a result, and they want to get to know you.”
With memes and satirical content growing in popularity on the platform, Ms Saunders warns users not to post without a specific purpose towards their own message or personal brand.
“Content has to have context. Fun images and video are a great way to communicate a story, or add another layer to your personal and professional brand,” she said.
Jo Saunders' top five tips for an optimal LinkedIn profile
1. Always have a profile photo. Have a photo that represents you in a professional capacity. The optimal is to have a professional photo taken, but if you don’t have the budget, ensure it doesn’t look like a selfie and avoid filters.
The photo should be the person that shows up to the meeting or the job interview. It should look like you then, not you out on a weekend having a drink, or a photo of your family.
2. The most important piece of text on your profile is the headline. The text underneath your name is the headline, which should be a positioning statement.
Rather than just having a job title and a company name, particularly if you're in business or on a career enhancement journey, craft a statement that says what your expertise is, what the outcome of working with you is and how you work.
It needs to describe what you actually do so people can get a sense of who you are, because if you call yourself a business owner at ABC Consulting, for example, there's no context and you are less likely to come up in search.
3. Add a personalised background image. Have an image that communicates something about your brand, industry or your focus to add some visual context. Use a single image or create a custom graphic.
4. Give enough consideration to the 'About' section. Take the time to craft a bit of an introduction to who you are. It should be about what your big vision is, where you’re going, where you've been, what you actually do, what drives you, what sets you apart or why you do what you do.
You can be in a career and have the same experience, the same qualifications, offer the same services as your competitor, but what sets you apart is your purpose and the ‘why’. People miss that.
The 'About' section should also be written with some personality, so people can get a sense of who you are.
5. Take advantage of all the new features. Things like adding a cover story video which sits behind your profile photo allows you to introduce yourself to your audience. It's fairly new and a lot of people don't know it's even there. Also include a voice recording using the name pronunciation feature. Both are available on the mobile app.