Among social networks, LinkedIn stands out for its versatility and utility in the marketplace.
The popular platform - centered around the concept that we're never separated by more than six degrees - connects users to one another, employers to applicants, and businesses to clients.
Using LinkedIn effectively, regardless of the category you fall into, can impact your success.
Here are a few key tips to winning on LinkedIn, sourced directly from the platform.
1. LinkedIn Is Your Canvas. Paint A Good Picture.
Your profile picture is everything on LinkedIn. For clients, employers, and connections it serves as a visual representation of you.
Make sure the photo is recent and comprises at least 60 percent of the total photo. A professional headshot is great, if you have one.
Own Your Headline
This is the headline to your story. Don't just include your job title, that can be written down elsewhere. Say a bit more about your work and why you do what you do.
Let Your Summary Tell Your Story
Don't avoid the summary line. Blank spaces on profiles are off-putting. They usually give the impression that you didn't care enough to complete the set-up process.
Use the summary to tell your story. Unlike the headline, don't tell me about your professional attributes. Share your skills and experience. Tell the audience why that matters.
The summary is the most evident piece of self-marketing on your profile. Use it well.
2. Grow Your Network
LinkedIn exists to connect you to as many folks as possible. While you may like to keep your network on other platforms limited to those you personally know, LinkedIn is different. That's okay.
Connect with as many folks as you can. Open your profile to make it an inviting space to meet with clients, colleagues, and employers. LinkedIn is only a true benefit to you when you're already connected -- not when you need to be connected.
3. List Relevant Skills
This is one of the easiest things you can do on LinkedIn. Identify the skills that are most relevant to you, list those.
Think of this as an addition to your resume. It will serve to substantiate the claims made in your headline and summary.
Most importantly, keep this list succinct. Don't overdo it. Revisit the list every so often to update the list. Make necessary additions and deletions as a way to stay current.
Spotlight The Services You Offer
Services is a new feature that LinkedIn offers to aid consultants, freelancers, and small businesses. This section really shows the services you offer. Completing this section will also boost your visibility in search results.
4. Engage With Your Network
Endorsements from other members serve to validate your skills and increase your credibility.
One easy way to increase your endorsement count is to identify some of your connections that you feel deserve an endorsement from you -- then to give them one. Hopefully, they're willing to return the favor.
You can also reach out to connections and request an endorsement. Connect with folks whose endorsement you would truly value -- relevance matters.
Like and Share Content
Having a large network on LinkedIn is one thing. Having a viable network that you can engage with, that will engage you, is worth even more.
You can contribute to this idea by appearing in their feeds with content that provides them value. Share content that interests you, is relevant to your connections, and is professional in nature.
Remember though, communication is not linear. Don't simply vomit out content for the sake of doing so. Interact back with the content others are sharing. Like and comment on posts from your connections. That grabs their attention and provides them more of a reason to engage with you.
5. Become a Content Expert
The more frequently you are able to publish, share, and comment on content relevant to you, the more you establish yourself as a thought leader -- at least within the LinkedIn ecosystem.
One of the ways this can be achieved is by posting original, long-form content.
Not only sharing that information, but monitoring your engagement. Are there subjects that are receiving more engagement than others? Is your network responding to one thing differently than other?
Engage with your connections. Remember, provide value to your network and work to serve them, not yourself.
Constructing an effective LinkedIn profile doesn't have to be rocket science. You don't have to read through the algorithm or spend hours of your time dedicated to that platform. As with any network, it boils down to content, engagement, and cultivation of the network.
Spend a few minutes a day building your LinkedIn presence, set aside a weekend to get everything updated, and tend to it regularly. Like a well-planted garden, it will grow.