Part 1: How To Build Your Profile On Linkedin From Scratch
If you are a professional, being on Linkedin is not optional! I coach aspiring trainers and women on a break who want to start second careers. And the most common question I get is how to start building their network on Linkedin.
I have already written about how to start a career as a corporate trainer and how to select the right training certification. In this post, we will look at another very important thing to do if you are looking at building a professional network – and not just as a trainer.
Whether you are considering a career in training – or any other profession for that matter – networking is the most important thing to do. Once you are certified, finding work is going to be an almost full time job, except for when you are training.
Don’t wait till you finish your certification to make connections.
Building connections needs time. And one should always create a network before one requires it. So start as soon as you decide to…well, start working. Add your certification as you complete and continue connecting. So let’s look at how you can build your online professional portfolio and unlock its potential on Linkedin.
First of all,
- Linkedin in the largest professional network on the planet
- It has 590 million registered members as on June, 2018
- 260 million members are active monthly
- It is the most trusted social network
- You will find most decision makers on Linkedin – from women who run homes to CEO who make corporate decisions
- It’s global in its reach
- Recruiters and potential employees are looking for people like you on Linkedin
WHERE TO START?
Let me start with a confession – Linkedin is really not one of my favourite platforms! It doesn’t have the immediacy of Facebook or Twitter and the feed seems to have a mind of its own. Now that I have come clean, I want to tell you how I overlooked the unpleasant parts and made the effective parts work for me. You can do the same too.
Many people create a profile on the platform and then don’t know what to do. Trust me! I’ve been there. But Linkedin is a professional goldmine waiting to reveal its secrets only if you gave it a chance. So get started with the following steps:
STEP ONE: CREATE A PROFILE ON LINKEDIN
The difference between Linkedin and other platforms is that this is strictly professional. So only talk about what you do and what you can do for your network. Some of the important things in that need to be paid attention to in your profile are:
The Photo: Preferably a headshot that’s professionally shot in your work attire. Avoid selfies using phone cameras or group photos.
The Headline: The content that shows up just below your photo is the headline. Look up keywords for your profession and use them – this is critical when recruiters run the keyword search for people like you. Make sure you weave them in your headline. For instance, I could use the keywords training and soft skills into a headlines like: I provide soft skills training for corporates. This covers my major keywords and people looking for a training in soft skills from corporates will find me in their search.
The Summary: This is the space below the headline for a short write up about yourself. The first 2 lines are key since most people access Linkedin on a phone app. And that’s all they can see before they click “know more”. So in the 2 lines, give them a compelling reason to click and know more about you. Use first person. Talk about what you do and the skills you can be hired for. Include your contact info and social media buttons at the end of it. (Remember you can always tweak you summary from time to time based on your experience on Linkedin and the corporate world)
Complete your profile: Make sure that you complete all sections in your profile. And even add sections, if required. I have added additional sections for my certifications and publications across the web. These add to my authority as a trainer and hence should be an included in my profile.
Change settings to public: Remember to change your profile settings to “public”. A private setting will not let everyone access your profile or see your content. And if you wish to gain “social” exposure, public settings are a must.
STEP TWO: ENGAGE WITH YOUR TIMELINE
Start connecting: Once you’ve created your profile, it is time to start getting connected with people. Begin with the people you know. You could sync your gmail contacts and start your connections.
Engage with others: Read others’ posts and like or comment on them. Make sure that you are polite, factually correct and really have a contribution to make. I feel that comments like, “great”, “nice”, “Good job” or a thumbs up don’t really meet the cut. Linkedin is not Facebook and expects more intelligent responses from its members.
Post updates: Post status updates of your own. Remember that the content you post will go towards building your personal brand in the long term. So don’t think of Whatsapp forwards as apt content to post on Linkedin. Even if you don’t produce your own content on a blog, you can always share industry news or content written by other reliable sources in the field. There are various studies on the ideal frequency of posting but you can start small and then scale it up.
Be consistent: Things may be a little slow initially while you figure out the platform. But being consistent and regular is critical. Out of mind, out of sight applies literally to social media. If your presence is sporadic, no one will keep up with what you do. And that annuls the efforts you put in even occasionally. So if you take to Linkedin – or any other platform – really commit to it. Maybe start with a few minutes a day but ensure you are around on all weekdays (at least)
Recommend others: If you are comfortable with Linkedin by this time, you can also start beefing up your profile with recommendations. Connect with people you know or have worked with and engage with them for a bit. Asking for a recommendation straight away after a long silence might not be a great idea. Also, feel free to recommend others first. This was it’ll be easy for you to ask for one.
Make sure that you point out the professional traits of your former/current colleague so that the recommendation is of real significance. I can’t emphasize this enough – please proofread your writing before you send it. Recently a senior trainer voluntarily sent me a recommendation – which was nice of him – but he got my gender wrong. So I had to ask for an edit before I could accept it! (Yes, you can ask for changes if you know the person well enough before you accept and add the recco to your profile)
This brings us to the end of the basics phase. The way to go about this is to keep at it for 2-4 weeks. And then move on to the tips coming up in part 2 of this series.
The advanced level would include not just posting but tracking traffic on it, not just connecting but analysing who’s on your list and not just being at it but gauge at the effectiveness of the time spent on Linkedin.
Are you new to Linkedin? Do you have any questions about Linkedin? Feel free to drop in a comment and I can get back to you.