Social networking can feel awkward and uncomfortable, even when done online.
Many people tell me they find LinkedIn overwhelming and instead of using it to their advantage, they avoid it at all costs.
But the reality is that when it comes to networking and career development, LinkedIn is one of the fastest-growing and most valuable assets to access. In 2019 alone, LinkedIn had 645 million accounts, and 40% of those users actually logged on every single day. With over 30 million companies now active on the platform, there were over 20 million open job postings in 2019 alone.
It isn’t just for networking and job hunting. If you are looking for marketing your business, Hubspot found that traffic from LinkedIn generates the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost three times higher than Twitter and Facebook.
I get it… LinkedIn could feel like another app to master, and another thing to spend your time learning and building. The trick is to optimize what you are doing on the platform and how you are showing up to other users.
Here are four ways to make the most out of your time on LinkedIn.
1. Make your account appealing to the eye.
First impressions matter, and not just in person. Before ever meeting you, 41% of recruiters have admitted judging candidates by their photos. When people want to learn more about you, they will head straight to Google, and your LinkedIn profile will likely be one of the first things to pop up.
Although there are a handful of things to remove immediately from your profile, one of the most important aspects to keep updated is your profile photo. Get this: LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more profiles views than accounts without a picture. Your ability to provide a visual on who you are actually contributing to someone’s decision-making. Studies revealed that the visual cortex of your brain controls more than interpreting images, it actually makes decisions. You want to share images that motivate your audience to connect you.
This isn’t limited to your profile. When you publish content, be sure to also include pictures. Updates with images are five times more likely to get comments and interactions than ones without. This doesn’t mean post a picture of you and your coworkers at happy hour; be thoughtful about what images you use. If you struggle to find photos, you can always turn to stock photography sites like Unsplash for access to a library of professional photos— for free.
2. Use the app to your advantage.
Look at the LinkedIn app like any other social media app. This means following and engaging with accounts you are interested in. When you are on the job hunt, find companies you want to work for, and make it a point to follow their accounts so you can stay aware of the company’s current happenings. The “companies” tab will display updates, employees and job postings, all in one central location that will then make its way over to your newsfeed.
Once you land an interview, you will already be well up to date on their latest product releases or corporate announcements, and this makes you stand out more than you realize. Job hunting is like dating, and by knowing the ins and outs of the company, you’ll come across as more interested in that actual company, versus giving off that usual job hunter vibe that tends to say: it doesn’t matter if you hire me, or your competitor does.
Companies want to feel wanted, just like romantic partners do in dating!
The app also contains a pulse tab, which allows you to see personalized articles and topics related to your industry and target audience. If you find something valuable, you can share articles onto your own profile. The more valuable content you share, the more of a following and personal brand you can create for yourself. And of course, make your own personal brand if you really want to excel in your career!
Dedicate a little time each morning to sift through the app. With your morning cup of coffee, spend 10 minutes finding articles worth sharing, or work towards building content around your industry (articles, blog posts, etc) so you can establish yourself as a thought-leader in your niche. If you commute to work or travel often without wifi, save article titles that you find intriguing and download them into your library to read later.
2. Contribute content to the LinkedIn platform.
Out of the 645 million LinkedIn accounts, less than .5% are actually contributing new content. When you consider that nearly half of LinkedIn’s community is logging on every day, this place is a goldmine for sharing content and being seen. Low competition means high view opportunities, a recipe for success.
Set time aside and make a list of content articles you would like to author. If topics don’t immediately come to mind, you can use the articles as inspiration for your own content. If you find an article you liked within your realm of subject matter,, read the comments section to find questions that other viewers may have posed as a way to search for and address gaps that weren’t covered on the topic.
This allows you to then build an article around content that the market is showing you there is a need for. If you are answering a question you see commonly asked, you can always go back and share your article with the users who asked. Remember: sales go down in your DMs, or in the comments section! When you show yourself as a content provider and an educated voice to answer user questions, business opportunities tend to follow.
4. Connect with the right people.
Remember the days in school when you were willing and excited to be friends with just about anybody? LinkedIn is not the place to have that same mentality. Just because you got drinks a few years back in college doesn’t necessarily mean you want to connect with them on this professional platform. Your level of reach depends largely on how social and engaged you are on the platform, not necessarily how many people are connected with you.
Start by connecting with existing professional and personal contacts in the industry you are working in, or want to move into. If you meet a new coworker or connect with a professional during a networking event, seek out their account and send them a LinkedIn request that contains a short personalized message.
Building yourself on the LinkedIn platform will make you a more attractive candidate and garner you more opportunities in the future.
Get intentional with your usage and the app with becoming a career changer, not a time suck.