Using LinkedIn to Create Your Brand and Network

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What is LinkedIn and why should you have one?

LinkedIn is a social media site like no other. The site is a virtual platform for professionals to connect, share, learn, and network. At any stage in your career, LinkedIn can be a useful tool and can help you “link” up with professionals in your field, learn about different careers, find jobs, and much more. Think of LinkedIn as your own professional brochure where you can develop your personal brand and showcase your skills and accomplishments. You can use LinkedIn to not only connect with others, but also demonstrate your knowledge, credibility, and expertise. LinkedIn additionally allows key decision makers and recruiters to see your profile for things such as jobs, internships, consulting, and other opportunities. 

Although some early career professionals such as students may be hesitant to make a LinkedIn page, it can be beneficial long term. Using this platform can help you learn about different careers, expand your network, and explore career development opportunities. The LinkedIn user base is large and global. In fact, according to https://kinsta.com/blog/linkedin-statistics/, LinkedIn has over 810 million members from over 200 countries with over 57 million registered companies. Many of these members are actively engaged with the platform with 40% of them accessing it on a daily basis. 

Getting the most out of LinkedIn 

Although everyone’s experience with LinkedIn will be different depending on their careers and goals, there are some simple tips and tricks to get the most out of this platform. First, it’s important to know what you can do with LinkedIn. This includes professional networking, building connections, staying in touch with former colleagues and associates, finding internships or jobs, following companies, exploring careers, getting career advice, joining interest groups, and building/promoting your brand. 

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of LinkedIn. Always make sure to keep your profile professional since you never know who might decide to visit your page. Along these lines, it’s also important to keep your profile complete and up to date even when you aren’t actively job searching. Another way to be more engaged with the site is to post and also engage with other posts that come up on your feed. You can also use LinkedIn groups to explore interests and career opportunities. LinkedIn is overall a great way to connect and chat with other professionals, job search, and do career exploration. 

LinkedIn Premium is also a paid option for those who need more than the what the basic features offer. Although there is a monthly fee, Premium offers in mail, expanded searches, premium search filters, expanded profile views, the ability to see who’s viewed your profile, profile organizer, saved search alerts, reference search, as well as easier introductions and connections. Premium can be a great resource if you are actively job hunting. 

Creating and Building Your Brand with LinkedIn 

Think of your LinkedIn profile as a digital resume. It’s a great way to market yourself and build your individual brand. You should use your profile to highlight your education, skills, accomplishments, involvement, and anything else relevant. There are things you can do to make yourself stand out against the rest. Your profile picture is one of the first things connections or recruiters see. Some tips for a great LinkedIn picture are making sure that it’s clear and high resolution, has only you in it, and is professional. Often a quality shot of your head and shoulders will do the trick. You can also customize your LinkedIn profile URL or do things such as sharing your personal website or blog if you have one. LinkedIn now gives you the ability to upload your CV or resume to the site and to use it for job applications. This can help potential employers or connections get a more complete understanding of your qualifications. 

A final way to enhance your profile is to have skills, endorsements, and recommendations on your page. Sharing skills on your LinkedIn profile is a great way to showcase your abilities to other members. You can have a maximum of 50 skills in a profile, and LinkedIn will automatically sort your skills into different buckets. Once a skill is added, your first-degree connections can validate your skills by endorsing them. Endorsements can strengthen your profile and increase its visibility. It’s important to note that your top three skills are the most visible ones. These are also the most likely to be endorsed since these are the skills that show up for endorsement when you connect with a new person. You can also have recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. A recommendation is a written testimonial that is added to your profile by a connection who took the time to write out why you are a professional worth working with. Once a connection writes you a recommendation, you can accept, dismiss, or ask for a revision of the recommendation. A recommendation is a great addition to your profile and often adds more value than an endorsement.  

Growing your network and connecting with LinkedIn

            You can use LinkedIn to connect with current and colleagues, peers, acquaintances, experts in your field, and others. It’s perfectly okay to connect with someone you don’t know if you are looking to get to know about their career or even just network. Many people are often happy to connect, talk about their career journey, current position, or answer questions. LinkedIn can be a great resource for career exploration and advancement. Networking during the pandemic has been especially hard, and LinkedIn can be a tool to meet new, like-minded people. In general, LinkedIn members are more likely to connect when there is a personal note. One caveat is that LinkedIn limits your introductory message to 300 characters. With this limited space, it’s important to make a strong impression, connect via a common ground, or if possible, connect via a shared connection. Don’t be afraid to reach out and grow your network! You never know what opportunities may happen because of it. 

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