LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network and is growing rapidly. It connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.
Many people who are getting started with LinkedIn think it's just an electronic CV.
This may have been the case a few years ago, but these days it's a very powerful social media tool that can:
increase your chances of getting found on Google
help position you as an expert in your field
bring you opportunities to win new clients
With this in mind, your profile should read as an elevator pitch to help position and build your personal brand.
Your LinkedIn profile will bring you much more online exposure. LinkedIn profiles rise to the top of search results, letting you control the first impression people get when searching for you online.
You could even ask people to look at your LinkedIn profile before they deal with you.
Here I'll show you the key steps for getting started with LinkedIn.
The first step is simple - go to www.linkedin.com
Creating your LinkedIn Profile and account is easy - and free. You just need to fill in a short registration form. You then need to spend time considering how you want to present yourself, and how prospective connections might view you when reading your profile.
It's not uncommon for people you don't know to find you on LinkedIn through their networks. Your profile is your personal elevator pitch - make sure it leaves a good impression.
The next stage is to gather the information you'll need to complete your profile. This includes:
a headline description: this appears under your name, along with your location and industry, every time you appear in a search. It's vital it reflects what you want people to see. This is your electronic first impression and sells your personal brand.
your past and current employment roles and experience. Make sure you highlight your relevant experience and expertise.
education and qualifications.
any websites you want your profile to link to - you can list up to three.
specialties and interests which can be useful to create a rounded picture of yourself. This could include your hobbies and interests.
Remember, you want your summary to be strong - this is your 30 second elevator pitch. Other things to consider when building your profile include:
editing your public profile settings. You can choose how much to show in your public profile - from nothing to everything. Remember, the more you show, the more people outside your network can learn about your services, expertise, and skill set.
making your public profile easily accessible - you can edit your public profile URL. The most sensible approach is to use your name.
building your recommendations. Don't be afraid to ask for recommendations from colleagues, employees, connections, and so on. Also be willing to give others recommendations. These strengthen any profile and help highlight the value you can add in your chosen area of expertise.
LinkedIn can be a powerful social media tool for your business. Why don't you get started now, and next month I'll look at how you build your network on LinkedIn.
John Joe McGinley is head of business brain, Aegon