By David Bruce
A lot of people become jaded with LinkedIn when they first get started. They think because they opened a profile job offers will just start rolling in. But when has anything been that easy in life? With a little bit of effort and consistency LinkedIn can help you get a job, get freelance work, or put you in contact with an expert for your next article. Here is how to set yourself up for success on LinkedIn.
1.) Profile: You want people to get a sense of who you are when they look at your profile. You are allowed 120-characters to accomplish that. Do not use seeking opportunities in your headline. Recruiters are searching by job titles. If you are looking for writer jobs, use writer. Or be more specific and use, Adventure Writer or Travel Writer; use whatever is in your writing niche.
Have a picture. You know how alarm bells go off when people try to connect with you on social media and they don’t have a photo? The same alarm bells go off for recruiters when you don’t have a photo on your profile. The photo should be a straight on shot of your face, sans sunglasses and without your cat. Unless you’re writing about cats.
2.) Summary Section: Time to sell yourself. The Summary section is where you can define yourself in the first person, in 2000 characters. Opportunity is knocking here. Make the most out of this section.
Example: My dream has always been to chase adventure and write engaging articles about my experiences. It seems like an appropriate dream given my experience serving in the military and my BA in Journalism… You get my point. Tell them what you are passionate about and what you do, or want to do.
Most important on this list is to have a completed profile. LinkedIn will let you know when you are 100% complete. LinkedIn members are 40 times more likely to be contacted by a recruiter when their profile is complete. Only 50% of the 760 million members on LinkedIn have a completed profile.
3.) Display your work: Not long ago, a recruiter contacted me via LinkedIn and we set up a phone call to discuss an opportunity. The job wasn’t a good fit due to location, but it gave me an opportunity to find the holes in my LinkedIn game. I asked the recruiter if there is anything that I should be doing differently with my profile. She was hesitant at first, but then told me.
She said, your profile says ‘Writer’, but I had to search through your posts to find any of your writing; there was nothing in your ‘Featured’ section. She sounded almost frustrated. You have to understand, they are scanning a lot of profiles and if you don’t give it to them up front they will move on to a profile that does. I immediately moved my posted articles to the Featured Section and now my published work comes up as soon as someone opens my profile.
4.) Listen to podcasts and then connect: Whatever your niche is listen to podcasts to find experts in this area. I like to write about terrorism. I often listen to podcasts on my commute into work. When people go on podcasts they are often coming off the heels of something timely, like writing a book about a current situation. I listen to the podcast and then send a connection request to that person. I also send along a note saying, I heard your podcast today and found this point interesting, and then I thank them for connecting. This has been a good formula that has led to work. Sometimes later I’ll interview them or have them give me an expert quote for an article I am reading. What I don’t do is cold pitch them in an introductory message; no one likes that. I don’t sell myself to them or ask for anything. That happens somewhere else, typically their email inbox, after some time.
5.) Join LinkedIn Groups: LinkedIn has a group for whatever it is that you like to write about. People exchange ideas there and they also ask questions that you might be able to answer. Many times, in these groups people will reach out to you for internships and freelance opportunities. Don’t overlook the opportunities that these groups can provide you.
6.) Stay Active: LinkedIn is an interactive platform. You should post your original content, which is simple because they have a template for you to write articles in. You can also repost other articles with your own commentary. My recommendation is to stay away from political, or divisive posts. When people look at your profile they see what your comments and posts are, remember this is a career platform, not Facebook. We want to avoid anything that comes off as negative and could potentially turn off a recruiter or someone looking to do business with you.
I hear a lot of people that are critical of LinkedIn, particularly when it comes to getting employment on the platform. In reality, it’s like anything else, with a little bit of effort, strategy and consistency it is a great tool that can bring opportunities into your life.