LinkedIn is powerful.
There is a reason I don’t recommend that people apply to jobs on other career related sites. They are mostly a waste of time. LinkedIn, however, has done it right.
It’s the difference between “I can’t find a job” and “I have several opportunities waiting for me.”
It’s that powerful.
If you treat it like the powerful platform it is, you will see significant growth in your career.
Every single job I have ever received is directly or indirectly related to my use and personal branding on LinkedIn. Because of my taking the time to learn how to use LinkedIn, I went from 500 connections to 30,000 connections or followers in 3 months. I’ll share my strategy.
I built an email list of 10,000 people in just 3 months. I used LinkedIn while employed, working on side projects, and over and over to help clients and to get a new job when I needed it
LinkedIn also profiled in me in a great video
It’s safe to say, I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn. The reason for this guide is to give you more detail on how it actually works, and how exactly you can use these tips to make LinkedIn work for you.
Less fluff, and more how to.
SECTION 1: CREATE A LINKEDIN PROFILE THAT DOESN’T SUCK
Your LinkedIn profile sucks. Trust me. I’ve seen thousands of them. Additionally, there is a 99% chance after reading this guide, you won’t take any action, and continue to suck at LinkedIn.
Can’t you tell that I’m an optimist 🙂
For the 1% who are going to take action, keep reading!
Step 1: You need to pay for a professional LinkedIn profile picture. No, seriously.
I honestly don’t recommend paying for many things. A professional picture is on the top of my list of things to pay for.
Your selfie isn’t going to work. That great picture of you that your buddy snapped before you went out on a night of town, isn’t going to work. If you didn’t pay for it, there is a 99.99% chance the picture shouldn’t be your profile picture.
It’s the difference between “I want to learn more about this person” and “I have no interest in this person…Next!”
Keep in mind that once you’ve paid for a great headshot, you can reuse this for your own personal blog or publications, for any other online professional representation of you, and your personal brand.
Look at how beautiful I am.
Your perfect profile picture should tick the following boxes:
- Great lighting.
- Awesome resolution.
- A simple background.
- Full, glorious color.
- A neat, head and shoulders photograph of your face.
What should you do while you’re saving up the $150-$250 dollars to pay a photographer who’s done this kind of thing before? There are few photos that are worse than having no photo at all, but they do exist and you’ve probably seen at least one of these examples. In the interim, try to stick to these simple guidelines for any profile picture you use, and use the following factors to check your final image again for ‘psychological satisfaction’ before you hit ‘upload’.
Long story short, you need a great picture. It’s seriously a world of a difference. Don’t ignore this.
Step 2: Write a summary statement that is accurate AND interesting.
Ok, now that I’m done yelling at you for having a bad photo. Let’s talk about your summary statement in LinkedIn.
“Robbie is an innovative marketing professional with over 15 years’ experience in the industry…”
Are you bored yet?
I am, and that sentence is all about me.
LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters to provide a comprehensive window into who you are and what makes you tick, not just as an employee, but as a person. I mean, a 2,000 character-long bio on the internet is just a step below a full memoir. Am I right?
Your summary needs to sell you, but it needs to do it authentically.
Start at the beginning. Share your values. Have a sense of humor. Be a real, living, breathing person with goals, ambitions, fears, interests, skills and hobbies. After reading your summary, your viewers should feel like they’ve just met you for a friendly chat over a cup of coffee.
Your summary should cover the 5 bases:
1) Value statement. This should be your very first sentence, and you better make it good. You don’t have to focus on what you’re currently doing: the point is to tell the reader exactly what they’d get out of working with you.
2) Why I do what I do. Now that you’ve got their attention, use a couple of paragraphs to tell our story. Where have you been? What do you stand for? Where do you want to go? Use stories and anecdotes to keep things human and engaging.
3) Interesting facts. This is the main advantage of LinkedIn over a traditional resumé: you can tell the reader anything you think they need to know. Perhaps you have expertise that isn’t covered by your qualifications, or want to branch out in a direction where you have no formal experience. This is the place for things that don’t fit under a bullet-point list.
4) How I can help you. Time to lay it on the line. This section isn’t just about telling the reader what you can do, but emphasizes that you’re willing to do it for them. You need to let them have the Holy Grail: give out your email address.
I include the line: “Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I read every email.”
That last little statement says two things: that you get a lot of emails, and that you make time for the people who send them to
5) Special skills. This section plays two parts: first, telling people what you do. Second, providing terms that will show up in keyword searches.
Here are 3 stellar examples of excellently written summaries to take some inspiration from. You’ll notice none of them mention how many years of experience each professional has, but still they manage to convey a wealth of expertise in their field.
Step 3: Use the Media section.
This is why a LinkedIn profile pays 10x more than a resume. Give some life to your profile and add anything interesting about you. Give them a reason to reach out to you.
Step 4: You need to fill in all of the fields, unfortunately.
This is a no-brainer, but it’s an important one. According to this article by Link Humans, “Your profile is 15 times more likely to be viewed by adding the industry you work in and ten times more likely to be viewed if you add your education.” But that doesn’t mean just filling up each field with a stream-of-consciousness, buzz-word added nonsense, will cut it.
Step 5: Fill out your job history. Include descriptions for each position, in the first person!
Do not, I repeat, do not import your resume straight into LinkedIn. Yes, the option exists. But the option to buy and then eat thumbtacks also exists, and you don’t need to be told not to do that. Do you?
Hiring managers want to see that you’re a great fit for the role, so use your past career steps as chapters in the story of you. Make it clear to them that hiring you is the only logical way for the story to continue. This is another additive of your one sentence story. Does your experience at Wing Pit in college fit into the narrative as a Director of Marketing? You decide. But chances are, things like this can only hurt you.
Does your experience at Wing Pit in college fit into the narrative as a Director of Marketing? You decide. But chances are, things like this can only hurt you.
Step 6: Ditch the buzzwords. You’re not a motivated, team player. Trust me, no one belives you.
Truly innovative people don’t say that they’re ‘innovative’ because they’re too busy innovating. Let your accomplishments do the talking for you, and try to avoid coming across like a repetitive corporate robot. Hint: If the word synergy appears in your summary in a non-ironic way, it probably needs a rewrite. Just saying.
Step 7: Stick to the first person
Instead of saying “Robbie is an experienced project management professional,” you can say something along the lines of “I have worked in many fortune 500 companies as a project manager. My specific focus is SAP software implementations.”
If you’re not used to blowing your own horn, it’s time to sign up for trumpet lessons.
Using the third person makes it sound like you’ve got some kind of dissociative disorder, or that you’re trying to make it sound like your profile summary came from someone else. The only items that should sound like they came from someone else are the glowing referrals on your profile. More about those later.
Step 8: Think twice about any qualifications in your title
I had my project management certification and the qualification was a “PMP”. So I put my name as Robbie Abed, PMP. Long story short, I got more inMails from my friends that I’m missing the I in PMP, then I actually got from qualified leads.
I also realized that many hiring managers viewed a Project Management Certification as a nice to have and not a must have.
Unless the job you want specifically requires that qualification (like a Medical Doctor), it’s probably not that relevant to any recruiters looking a hire, and might actually pigeonhole you and limit your potential reach. If you’ve got your diploma in journalism, but want to get into B2B communications, chances are that ‘Dip.’ abbreviation at the end of your name will make your profile views do just that.
Step 9: You might also want to reconsider naming the company you work for in your subtitle
Similarly, if you’re holding down a position at a well-known or particularly credible company, then you might do well to include the name in your title. But bear in mind that just saying ‘Director of Sales’ sounds more impressive than ‘Director of Sales at Mrs. Tinsley’s Instant Soup Factory’. Remember, dress for the job you want.
Step 10: You might even want to rethink your own name. Especially if your name is John Smith.
If your name is John Smith. You’re screwed. You would literally have to find the cure to cancer, win an NFL championship and the Tour De France to even be considered for the first result for your name search on Google or LinkedIn.
If when you Google yourself, you start realizing that your name might not be as unique as you thought it was, it’s time to start differentiating yourself. If you have a second name, or the option of a double-barrel surname, start adding that to your online profiles.
I’m not recommending you drop your last name, like Adele, Prince or Rihanna. Nor do I think this is the ideal opportunity to use that great nickname you got in 5th grade.
‘James Johnson’ might not be memorable on its own, but add that second name your parents thoughtfully added to your birth certificate and now, Mr. James Peter Johnson, you’ve got a much better chance of being found online.
The key is to then use that same name across every online channel. Your email signature, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
Step 11: Your City – Use this field strategically when looking for a job in a different city
The ‘city’ field seems like an obvious one to get right. You just enter the city that you’re currently living and working in, right? Not so much. Let’s say you’re based in Fort Lauderdale, but have dreams of moving to New York.
You’d up and move if only the right career opportunity came along. But how is that opportunity going to come along when all of New York’s hiring managers are striking you off their list because it looks like you’re happy where you are. Correct their assumption.
List the city you want to work in to start getting noticed by recruiters in this area, so you can make sure you show in their searches.
I’m not saying lie about your current location. Don’t lie about where your current job is. Tell the truth, but you can put the city you want to work in and be Kosher in my book.
Step 12: Start showing up higher on LinkedIn Searches
You don’t need to stuff your profile full of keywords to rank highly on LinkedIn just for fellow members looking for jobs on LinkedIn.
That kind of thing might just drive a potential hiring manager or partner nuts before they’ve even gotten as far as checking for your email address.
Making sure that people looking for someone like you can easily find you, does mean paying attention to making sure that your profile has been optimized to appear in the right searches. Make sure that your job titles, descriptions, summary and even your recommendations are all telling the same story.
SECTION 2: AMPLIFY YOUR BRAND USING PUBLISHING
It takes a reader a fraction of a second to get that precious first impression, and at best a couple of minutes to read your profile. That’s as long as you’ve got to make an impact – or is it?
LinkedIn’s publishing platform may be its most undervalued tool. It gives you access to a broader audience, for longer periods of time. People will come to hear what you have to say and if it resonates, they’ll want to hear more. That’s how relationships start.
Writing and distributing articles using LinkedIn publishing is a great way to turn browsers into followers and followers into connections. My results haven’t been too shabby, if I do say so myself. After 120 days of article writing on LinkedIn I’ve achieved:
- 1.6 Million Article Views
- 50 new high-quality relationships added to “Robbie’s Connection
- 7,500 email subscribers to Summer of Quitting
- 10,447 new followers (Yes, LinkedIn has followers which are separate from
- 1,100 new connections
How to be Happy at Work When Everyone Else is Miserable is one of my most popular post.
I also learned a few things along the way – these days I refer to the following checklist before I post an article. I found a score of 7 or more is a pretty good sign it will be a success:
- Makes reader feel inspired / motivated: +4
- Agreeable tone / content: +4
- Authentic first-person story: +3
- Recent events in technology / business: +3
- Topic: Career Advancement / Leadership: +2
- Actionable tips / lessons learned: +1
- Industry specific / technical*: -2
- Click bait headline: -3
Be sure to finish off with these magic words: “Please follow me or add me on LinkedIn. I accept all connection requests.”
You can boost your views by linking to your article on other social media. LinkedIn’s editors recommend that you tweet “TIP @linkedineditors” with a link to your article, which will notify them that you’ve published something.
The editors decide which articles on the site to feature in LinkedIn Pulse, so catching their attention is a good thing. Usually the articles posted there are those that get the most views and are automatically flagged as “popular” by LinkedIn’s algorithms, but the editors still make that call for articles they find particularly valuable.
To boost your chances of getting noticed, publish the post between 9am and 1pm CST (Central Standard Time) and shoot for Mondays or Tuesdays as a rule of thumb . As LinkedIn’s editors are mostly located in NYC and California, most of them will be at work and looking for content at this time.
As you start out writing LinkedIn articles, the following links will come in handy:
SECTION 3: BUILD POWERFUL RELATIONSHIPS
I think the most underused feature of LinkedIn is figuring out how to maintain and build relationships. I’m going to outline how to use LinkedIn to build powerful relationships.
Step 1: Get consistent with adding others on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the center of your career. If you want others to be aware of what you’re working on, then you must be diligent about adding new connections on LinkedIn.
Met someone at a networking event and spoke with them for more than 90 seconds?
Add them on LinkedIn.
Met a friend of a friend and you only spoke to them on the phone?
Add them on LinkedIn.
Interacted with someone on twitter that you want to build a better relationship with?
Add them on Twitter.
Add them on LinkedIn.
See where I’m going with this?
The beautiful part about LinkedIn is that it’s not creepy to ask someone to get connected. Add them on Facebook after only speaking to them for 90 seconds, is kind of creepy if you ask me. But on LinkedIn, it’s A OK. It’s even professional.
Step 2: Ask for recommendations. And don’t stop asking.
Past relationships are as important as new ones. Personal recommendations and referrals go the extra mile to show that you really have worked at the companies that you say you’ve worked at, and that the people who have worked there with you enjoyed the experience.
Here’s the thing about asking for referrals though – you’re probably going to have to do it more than once. Don’t get me wrong, some people might be sitting at their desks just waiting for you to ask them to write a referral. But I doubt it.
Get the ball rolling by using the phenomenon of obligatory reciprocation. I mean, write a referral for them first. Tell them how much you enjoyed working with them, and ask them if they would mind returning the favor. Then wait a week or two and ask again. And again. Be polite and be sincere, but also be tenacious. It might seem difficult at the time but I can promise you it’s a lot easier than scheduling 250 coffee meetings a year with the busiest people in business.
Step 3: Do not, for the love of everything that’s good and holy, link your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account.
Don’t get your private chocolate in your professional peanut butter. There are two cardinal sins on LinkedIn that most members commit at least once, and are occasionally even advocated by well-meaning social movers and shakers, who otherwise offer some pretty sage advice.
If you want to treat LinkedIn like a serious, professional platform, you need to take the time to tailor your content updates to this platform and make the most of every post. Potential business partners and employers don’t need to know that you are #totesjamming to T. Swifty’s latest release in traffic.
Obviously if you’ve linked your tweets to your LinkedIn page because your twitter account is ultra industry-relevant and business focused, that’s up to you, just as long as you don’t commit the second cardinal sin….
Step 4: Become your own PR person
I’ve got good reason to be a massive fan of LinkedIn’s publishing platform, Pulse. I went from no followers to 28,000 followers on LinkedIn in 3 months’ time and built an email list of 10,000 people using LinkedIn Pulse. Over 40 days, I published 6 articles that lead to 63, 000 pageviews, 7,000 social shares and 5 different work opportunities. I had business leaders reaching out to me. If this is the first time you’re hearing about Pulse, you might want to brush up with this handy beginner’s guide.
Even if you’re a seasoned writer or blogger and think you know all you need to know about self-publishing online, there are a few LinkedIn specifics you would do well to take on board. Firstly, as I can attest, posts with a positive spin tend to do much better than negative ones, Feel free to highlight issues in the world, in business or in your industry, but remember that people tend not to like, comment on, or share news that doesn’t inspire them.
And you really want those likes, comments and shares. The more popular your LinkedIn Publication is on your own network, the more likely it is to get picked up by LinkedIn’s human Pulse editors, who will share it on their global feed. If you’re really trying to hustle hard, try to publish between 2-3 times a week on LinkedIn, and follow the best post practices when creating your content.
Even if you’re not interested in writing your own articles, you can still use this publishing platform as a means of staying top of mind. Make it your mission to curate the best, most recent news and information. Add your own personal take on it, and share it with the people who would find it the most fascinating.
Step 5: Interested is interesting
Let’s say there’s a powerful influencer or executive you’re dying to get in touch with, someone who could really open some doors for you. If only they knew that you existed. You can sure as heck do all the usual steps of following their company, following them, and perhaps even joining some of the groups that they are also a part of, but unless you reach out, they still might never notice you.
When your targeted contact shares a link, share it too, along with your personal (and preferably complimentary) take. Leave an insightful comment, and perhaps expand with a question of your own. Everyone likes to be noticed. Even big, powerful influencers. Flattery won’t get you everywhere, but creative flattery will get you noticed.
Step 6: Don’t bother with groups
Of course, if you love chatting with strangers halfway across the globe and have an inexhaustible amount of time to dedicate to discussions that will likely never turn into work experience of job opportunities, then be my guest. But I personally find most groups to be an exercise in time-consuming futility when it comes to growing your network and making valuable connections. I suggest spending your time meeting with real people. Use this guide as a resource to networking.
Step 7: Get off Facebook and get serious about your LinkedIn
LinkedIn has the potential to generate hundreds of quality opportunities for you, but you’ve got to put in the time and effort to turn your profile into something worth looking at, and your activity into something worth following.
It might sound like a drag, but how about this: The next time you spend 30 minutes searching for the perfect cover photo, tagging your friends, or ‘liking’ baby pictures, just remember that there is a network out there where you could actually be getting paid (eventually) for updating your profile.
In conclusion, LinkedIn is a powerful tool if you use it properly. It’s the only tool on the internet that will immediately connect you to professionals around the world. Don’t underestimate how great this can be for you.
PS: Read the only resignation letter template you’ll ever need.