Most IT professionals are aware of the business-oriented social network, LinkedIn, and many of them use it. However, a large percentage of businesspeople struggle with making the most of the world’s largest professional social network.
“LinkedIn is probably the most underutilized platform on the face of the planet,” according B. Bonin Bough, vice president of Global Media and Consumer Engagement, Mondelez International, a global snack foods conglomerate. Bough spoke last week in Las Vegas at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show.
We asked LinkedIn for advice for CIOs, IT executives and other businesspeople who want to stand out on LinkedIn. Here are six tips to help you achieve business value from the platform.
1) Make Your LinkedIn Profile Shine
It all begins with your profile, the default starting point where LinkedIn gives you the chance to make the right first impression and attract the most meaningful and relevant opportunities.
A scattered and poorly developed profile means you may not be showing up in relevant searches. You may also be missing out on volunteer opportunities, speaking engagements and business networking, according to LinkedIn.
You don’t have to tackle the entire job at once. LinkedIn encourages you to break up you profile makeover into a set of smaller jobs. “Adding a profile photo, a compelling headline, a summary of 40 words or more, filling out your experience section and adding your skills, are great places to start,” the company says.
You can make changes to your profiles using LinkedIn’s mobile app or via a new, guided experience that was recently introduced along with a series of new desktop features for profiles.
You can also increase your exposure by adding rich media, a background photo and details about volunteer work, certifications or organizations you support.
“Each action you take helps to make you more discoverable to the hundreds of millions of professionals on and off of LinkedIn,” according to the company.
2) Don’t Be Shy on LinkedIn
A professional social network is no place to be shy. “Networking is crucial for your career, but people tend to transform from social butterflies in their personal worlds to flies on the wall in their professional spheres,” according to LinkedIn.
Don’t worry about pestering other business professionals or hesitate to contact people you haven’t spoken with in a while. LinkedIn says its Connected app can help you find appropriate moments to connect. Job changes, a mention in the news, work anniversaries and recent meetings are all opportune times to reach out, according to the company.
3) Join a LinkedIn Group to Build Your Reputation
LinkedIn says its Groups can be a useful knowledge resource and a great place to exchange knowledge with other professionals.
More than two million Linked Groups exist today. LinkedIn encourages its members to use Groups to expand their networks by meeting other professionals in their industries, building reputations as thought leaders and finding solutions for specific challenges they face.
“People who participate in conversations on Groups are five times more likely to get profile views from people outside their network — which could translate into more opportunities,” according to LinkedIn.
4) Keep Tabs on Who Views Your LinkedIn Profile
Vanity can be a valuable character trait on LinkedIn, particularly if you keep tabs on the people who view your profile as well as when it’s viewed. LinkedIn has let users see who views their profile for years, but today you can also identify the actions that drive the most engagement.
“Think about views to your profile as warm leads on potential hires, connections or even career opportunities,” LinkedIn says.
Of course, these relationships are two-way streets, and LinkedIn says you should keep your visibility settings open so other members can see when you view other profiles. “It’s a great way to get a recruiter or hiring manager’s attention, show a client you’re doing your homework before a big meeting or generate warm leads,” the company says.
5) Strive to Maintain Context and Quality
There’s no prize for accumulating connections on LinkedIn, so don’t focus on the number of people in your network. “Think about building a quality network of professionals you know, respect and can vouch for you,” LinkedIn says.
A LinkedIn invite from a complete stranger can be as off-putting and interruptive as a cold call. If you need to reach out to someone you haven’t worked with before, LinkedIn suggests taking the time to figure out how you might know one another or identify connections you have in common.
You should find that common ground — be it a connection, interest or background — and then craft a personal invitation with the proper context to help you stand out.
6) Find Your Voice on LinkedIn
“Your professional identity isn’t just about what you’ve done,” according to LinkedIn. “It’s also how you think and what you know.”
LinkedIn’s self-publishing platform gives members a platform to share lessons learned or comment on industry trends.
You’re not only encouraged to showcase your areas of expertise but to also take the time to craft an authentic voice. While your voice may not develop naturally overnight, it’s important to stay true to who you are and how you want to present yourself, according to LinkedIn.
“Publishing posts is a great way to showcase your professional knowledge, position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and even highlight some of the interesting things your company is doing,” LinkedIn says.