Okay, okay, this blog post is very late but there was Christmas, then I hit the ground running in the New Year with three different contracts and an interview to prep for, so apologies that this is late! I’ve been meeting myself coming backwards.
As promised, I said I would talk about LinkedIn in this post. Full confession, I am (much like a lot of people in the arts and cultural sector) a late adopter when it comes to LinkedIn. Rightly or wrongly, I’ve always seen it as more of a corporate space.
I joined in 2017 after much badgering from the good husband (who has been on it for years). I was returning to work after the birth of our first child and I had made a conscious decision to really focus on my career development and the necessary networking that would go alongside it. So I joined LinkedIn, filled in my profile and got connecting left, right and centre. It wasn’t until I had a career coaching session with the lovely Kym Bartlett, that I realised that maybe…
- I hadn’t been using LinkedIn effectively
- That there is an etiquette (who knew, not me)
If you use LinkedIn all the time, the following tips may seem really basic, but as a newbie to the platform, I found them useful:
Update Your Profile
This is your shop window as it were – it is how people are introduced to you and first impressions count.
- Pick a suitable profile picture – it should be recent, actually look like you, and a close-up shot (not a long distance one). You should look friendly and approachable.
- Use your headline – it doesn’t have to be your job title, it can include a little more about you and what’s important to you.
- Don’t leave the summary section blank – this is your chance to really sell yourself. Don’t just list your previous roles and skills; explain how your skills can help potential clients and what difference you could make to them.
- Ensure your employment history is up to date.
Think About Your Skills
Go through LinkedIn’s list of skills and select those that are relevant to you – this provides a mechanism for other users to endorse you. This helps reflect what you have included in your headline and summary and allows people to endorse you later on. Try to only include your core skills i.e. your specialities, as opposed to a long list of generic skills.
You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours
Endorsements from others are a great way to increase your credibility. Go through your network and identify connections that genuinely deserve an endorsement. If they don’t reciprocate, don’t be scared of reaching out with a private message asking them to endorse your skills too. Remember, that the worst they can say is no.
Same goes for recommendations – personal testimonials about the experience of working with you –don’t be afraid to reach out to your connections to request one. Again, the worst they can say is no.
Grow Your Network
This is where I hold my hands up and admit I was doing LinkedIn all wrong! I was hitting the ‘Connect’ button in the same way that I’d ‘Add Friend’ in Facebook. I’d send the request and if they accepted brilliant, if not I kind of forgot about them. I didn’t send an introductory message, a follow up message, nothing – I just hit that ‘Connect’ button and hoped for the best.
In terms of etiquette, I have since been informed that when requesting to connect, you should send an introductory message explaining who you are, why you’re connecting with them, and mention any mutual colleagues etc. to give you some context. And obviously, don’t go in with a sales message in your first communication.
Some ways to grow your network include:
- A very quick way to grow your contacts it to synch your profile with your email address book and see who LinkedIn suggests you connect with.
- If, like me, you have left an organisational setting and gone freelance, make sure you go through your old work contacts and connect with them.
- Identify your competitors and connect with them. If you connect, then you can look at their network and see if there is anyone you should be trying to connect with yourself.
- Take advantage of free trials e.g. Sales Navigator can help you with prospecting.
That’s it, my LinkedIn Tips that while basic, will help improve your profile. I’d love to hear from some of you. Do you have any LinkedIn advice you’d like to share? Please comment below so I know I’m not talking into the ether.
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