6 LinkedIn Best Practices For Professionals Who Are New To The Game

How many of you created a LinkedIn just because you felt like you had to, but never put much time or energy into it? I’m sure I’m not the only one virtually raising my hand here.

LinkedIn is different from a social media profile or your resume—you can’t just upload your information and wash your hands of it. LinkedIn is a game-changer in the professional world, and I didn’t realize that until recently… but I’m so glad I finally did.

While I’m not new to LinkedIn (I’ve had a profile for a couple years), I’m new to utilizing LinkedIn. It’s one thing to pick a headshot and slap a title across your headline, but to really create a profile that reflects you? That’s where the magic happens. I work with all kinds of professionals, so I’ve seen it before. You work for a few years and then you take some time off—maybe to stay with your kids for a while, to go back to school, or to switch career paths. In that time, the professional world changes, and in the past 10 years, that change came from LinkedIn.

No need to worry about it, though! We’re all playing catch-up in this big, crazy, changing world. The key is to come back and decide how you want to present yourself on LinkedIn. In order to understand the game, you should hone in on a few best practices. From there, you can put your own spin on it and make your profile YOURS!

We’re all learning this together, so I’m happy to use this platform to help each other out with the tricks of the trade. So far, these are the five best practices I’m sticking to:

1. Showcase testimonials, awards, accolades, and projects

If you’re anything like me, you don’t like talking about your accomplishments because it feels like bragging. With LinkedIn, you have to separate bragging from showcasing—and learn how to put yourself out there. I’m still getting used to this, because it feels unnatural to talk about myself or give myself compliments.

Instead, I’m trying to embrace it as a way to paint a picture of my professional journey, rather than brag about myself. That’s what I mean by showcasing instead of bragging. Use LinkedIn as a way to talk about any awards you’ve received or successful projects you’ve completed in your professional journey. This encourages people to engage with you, and it gives you a built-in ice breaker when you’re networking through the platform.

2. Use a professional photo that represents you and your brand

LinkedIn is home to virtual handshakes and digital introductions. Whoever you’re speaking with on LinkedIn isn’t speaking to you face-to-face, so they can’t see your mannerisms, expressions, or the quirky things that make up who you are. Your photo should be a picture that makes you feel the best about yourself, just as it should be geared toward your brand in order to attract the people you want to serve.

That’s why it’s important to get a professional headshot done so that you can capture your personality in one picture. Find a photographer who specializes in professional headshots and has a portfolio that speaks to your style. This person will be representing your brand (who you really are), so you should like the images that they create.

3. Give out your LinkedIn in your business cards, resume, and email signature

Make sure to point people toward your LinkedIn profile. They may be able to look you up, but it’s important that you encourage them to look at your profile. You can do so by adding it to your business cards, in your resume, and in your business email signature.

4. Publish quality content regularly

Publishing content on LinkedIn isn’t limited to writers! Everyone is an expert in their own field, so use LinkedIn’s publishing tool as a way to show off your superpowers.

As a photographer, I wasn’t always sure how I could use LinkedIn to reach my audience, but I’ve been learning that you don’t have to limit yourself to your job or your niche. Sure, you could publish articles and posts geared toward your industry, but you could also use it as a tool to engage with professionals and share the tips you’ve learned about the professional world.

5. Pinpoint your keywords

A keyword is a word or phrase that you want to target and use throughout your profile. You’ll want to first think about your target audience. What kinds of terms are they searching in order to find you?

Do some research on your field, and use this as a way to tap into your niche. It’s not just about your job title; it’s about what you bring to the table and what makes you unique as a professional. Target about 3-5 of those words and use them in your headline, summary, and professional experience sections. Be careful not to cram your profile with keywords, though. That’s called keyword stuffing and could jeopardize the way people view your content.

For example, if your keyword is “content creator”, you should have that phrase in your headline and you should include it in your summary. Something like, “I’ve been a content creator for 10 years, and it’s what impassions me more than anything else.” There’s no need to write the phrase more than 1-2 times.

6. Give people a chance to contact you

At the end of every good presentation or marketing campaign is a CTA (call to action). You didn’t do all of that hard work for nothing, right? You’re targeting and speaking to your audience for a reason—you want them to take an action of some sort.

The same goes for LinkedIn. Add your contact information, like your website and business email address, on your LinkedIn profile. It’s up to you how much or how little you’d like to give out, but it’s a great idea to add your website link in your summary in order to convert page views into potential customers.

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