I wrote this for an employee newsletter at a previous employer, AmeriFirst Home Mortgage. Our team members used social media to connect with home buyers and real estate agents alike. I thought sharing LinkedIn tips with them would be helpful.
LinkedIn is a great place to connect with other professionals. Sure, it can be a place to go job hunting. But it’s also one of the best places to talk “industry” with business referral partners, possible employees and peers. It’s like going to business networking event…from the comfort of your home or office.
Since LinkedIn is a more professional atmosphere, it’s helpful to follow some best practices. Not only will this help you maintain a business profile, it will also help to grow your LinkedIn network – a goal of many of us in the referral-business world. Here are a few best practices for the LinkedIn crowd.
Use a professional-looking headshot.
Those of us using Facebook know the importance of using a picture. How many times have you received a friend request and wondered who the person is? That photo avatar helps us know faces. In Facebook, we often use photos from vacations, pictures of kids/pets or maybe a group photo with friends. That works fine for the personal crowd in general.
Think of LinkedIn as an office. We tend to dress in business attire at work. We have certain manners and ways of interacting. We’re sober. Your LinkedIn profile should mirror this. Not only should you include a photo of yourself, but it should look somewhat professional and the person looking at it should be able to recognize you in person. Below are some examples of what not to use as a LinkedIn avatar (from real-life examples I’ve seen).
No beach/swimming pool pictures
No couple pictures with a significant other
Make sure the photo is not a long-distance shot
In other words, use a photo of you in front of a fairly boring background like your office with a fichus tree behind you. Take the photo like a medium-close up (head to mid-chest or waist is good). Don’t pose like a police mugshot in front of a white or gray wall.
Write a summary that tells a story
The summary is where you tell a little of your story. Make this a first person narrative so the person reading it doesn’t feel like they’re reading an obituary. It’s up to you, but including a little about yourself personally is a nice addition. For instance, include something about a hobby.
Fill out “experience”
“Experience” is where you give your work history. Don’t be afraid to go way back in your history. You never know when a past experience will speak to a potential connection. For instance, someone I know will more likely hire a person who has experience in the food service industry, specifically as waitstaff. As you fill out your experience section, be sure to list facts like actual duties in the job, accomplishments and successes. Finally, include volunteer jobs and internships. Just because you didn’t get a paycheck, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a real job.
Recommendations – be willing to give them
Recommendations are essentially references. Ask people with whom you’ve worked to write one for you. Ask for specifics, like a success story or hard numbers from a project you completed with or for them. Be sure to also recommend others. Not only does this create a “what goes around, comes around” situation, but your recommendation will live on through their profile. A couple of tips on recommendations:
Be honest, not overly flashy
Use factual, specific examples
Recommend only those people whom you know, and with whom you’ve worked
Take time and ask with a personal note, being specific about your request
Join groups – and be active
LinkedIn groups are a great place to make connections. Join a local group, and take the relationship offline with networking events. Be active on group discussions by “liking” and commenting when you can. Just remember, it doesn’t really count when you just say “I like this” or “Good article.” Actually add something to the conversation in a respectful way. Discussions and comments can prove to be a great way to connect with people. Just make sure you’re not spamming the group. Vary the content and sources you’re posting, and spread it out rather than post a bunch of stuff all at once.
When connecting, make it personal
LinkedIn allows us to connect with people all over the world. Keep it personal. Just because LinkedIn suggests you connect with someone in San Diego, California doesn’t mean you have to connect with them. However, if you think it would be an interesting connection and mutually beneficial, send a personal note on why you want to connect. Don’t send the generic message LinkedIn automatically sends. This means you’ll have to click on the person’s name, visit their profile and send an invitation from there. Expert tips:
Make a template for different connections
Use their first name as a greeting
If you don’t know them personally, explain why you’re connecting
Connecting with others is clearly the point of LinkedIn. Reach out to others in your area that might have something to share with you, and vice versa. Real estate agents, builders, home service professionals (decorating, plumbers, electricians) and other housing market professionals can be great connections.
LinkedIn can be a great place to make business connections, a powerful tool for recruiting, referral business and for learning industry news. Following some basic best practices will help you create a robust profile and a beneficial LinkedIn experience. Connect with me, too! http://www.linkedin.com/in/danielmoyle
[Article originally posted on The Inbound Evangelist December 12, 2013]