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How many times have you heard someone say ‘I’m on LinkedIn but I don’t know what I’m doing with it'?
Despite having more than 467 million users, the site remains something of the awkward relative of the social media family.
People get Facebook, they understand Twitter even if they don’t use it, but for many LinkedIn is treated as little more than an online CV and is seldom used unless they are actively looking for a new job.
But, as we highlight on our social media training courses, the site offers so much more than that.
If used well, it is platform to present yourself as an expert in your particular field; take part in conversation with industry colleagues, build new contacts and share your knowledge.
So how can you make the best use of LinkedIn?
Well a lot of it comes down to how you present yourself.
LinkedIn is not like other social network sites – it is a place for professionals. So the photo you use on your Facebook page, taken on the beach or at a party, should probably not be used here. Opt for a professional looking head and shoulders image – there is no need to be any more creative than that.
Tell your story
It’s not always easy to write about yourself, but you need to make sure your profile has a summary of your experience and abilities which highlights your authority and credibility. And make it relevant to your objectives and the interests of your target audience. Back this up by ensuring your professional experience and skills sections are up to date and do you justice.
Follow people and organisations on the site and when you see something interesting, ‘like’ it, comment or share. This will help to build your profile and help you get noticed. Then begin to publish your own posts. This is a great way to get your thoughts out to your connections and, if they share it, their connections as well. Aim to keep the content of your posts timely, thoughtful and original.
Let’s be honest no-one want to be connected to a negative person – there is quite enough of that on the other social media platforms. Use LinkedIn to highlight your passion and good examples of work in your sector rather than naming and shaming those who get it wrong.
Present a professional image
This is not the platform to post pictures of what you had for dinner last night or to rant about your football team’s latest setback. As we mentioned in the image section, this is a professional networking site, so unless it is linked to your business or career, don’t post it.
Avoid the jargon
If you look around LinkedIn you’ll find a lot of jargon. People like to describe their work as ‘innovative’, ‘cutting-edge’ and even ‘revolutionary’. But unless you can prove any of this, it is just meaningless guff. Clichés will not help you stand out as an industry leader.
Engage with others
The best way to raise your profile on LinkedIn is to step out of the shadows and join the conversation. Make the time to sign in at least once a day and comment on what your connections are posting, but do so in an intelligent way. If you haven’t read the blog they have linked to or the discussion thread you are unlikely to be contributing anything of value.
A feature of the site is the ability to start and contribute to conversations on the group pages. These groups are a great place to increase your visibility by presenting yourself as a thought leader among people with similar interests. Each group will have its own set of rules, so make sure you follow these before you begin to post. It is also worth considering that if you don’t take the time to contribute to conversations other people have started, why should they join in yours? And finally, when you do post, make sure it is not too salesy.
Start a group
Why not go one step further and set up your own group? This could help you build a thriving community of passionate people with similar interests. And you will be at the centre of it. Ensure the aim of the group is clear and only accept people as members if you have checked their profile.
Know your audience
Whether you are posting in groups or from your profile, it is crucial you keep your audience in mind. Your content needs to be relevant and valuable to them to help build connections and relationships and raise your profile.
Media First are media and communications training specialists with over 30 years of experience. We have a team of trainers, each with decades of experience working as journalists, presenters, communications coaches and media trainers.
Click here to find out more about our journalist led social media training courses.
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