As a professional, you want to network with your peers and develop credibility in your field. Traditionally you could do this with arranged networking events, where you would adhere to a distinctive set of business rules and etiquette.
Therefore the concept of networking with people you’ve never met, and possibly never will, could seem a little contradictory to usual business encounters. However the growth of LinkedIn, a social media channel dedicated to professional networking, suggests that strangers are willing to form business relations online.
Furthermore, LinkedIn now has over 300 million users; giving you an even greater chance to find and interact with peers and professionals who are interested in your services.
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First Impression Still Counts Online
Just like meeting someone in person, you need to ensure your first impression exerts the attributes you want to display. Think about these seven points when interacting with other LinkedIn users.
1. Complete Your Profile
You have complete control and responsibility over the content on your profile. Make sure all the fields are completed and that the content presents your ideal professional persona.
Use this opportunity to express your individuality, but know that this particular social media channel isn’t as informal as the others. If you are unsure what the tone and content of your profile should be, look at the profiles of your peers and industry leaders for inspiration.
The purpose of all the sections in the profile are explained later on in this article.
2. Optimise Your Company Profile
“Hi my name is XXX and I work at XXX” – Everyone, A Networking Event Attendee.
Your professional network is interested in your current employer, almost as much as they are interested in you. Therefore alongside optimising your personal profile, ensure that your company profile is up to date.
Question what people want and need to know about the organisation; such as company values and history. Also think about how this should be presented. The profile doesn’t need to be text heavy and it might benefit from some rich media such as video.
The company profile also lists updates from the company. These messages are a way that the company can engage with their audience, build a following and grow industry credibility. They can be text based, images, videos, presentations, hyperlinks and more. To optimise these updates, they need to correspond with the needs of the audience.
If you don’t manage the page but notice mistakes, raise them to the person in charge. Ultimately, you are doing yourself a favour.
3. Don’t Be Afraid – Connect
The purpose of LinkedIn is to connect with other professionals online. The site is popular and growing with over 300 million users signing up to network with others online.
Get talking to peers and other professionals. You can do this by inmail, but a better way is to engage with content that they have posted or by actively joining a group that they are a member of.
Follow up friendly greetings with a request to ‘connect’. If they accept, you can inmail each other for free and will both show a mutual agreement to develop your business connection.
1. Share Company Updates
To keep the company profile engaging, your company will be posting out interesting updates. Instead of just liking or commenting on a company update you find appealing, share it. Take the opportunity to broadcast it out to your network. Sharing content is good because you are associating yourself with a credible brand. You also have the opportunity to add your own commentary to the content. Therefore, unlike other interactions, sharing puts your voice at the beginning of interesting news.
2. Treat LinkedIn Like Other Networking Events
Remember that LinkedIn has the same etiquette as a meeting. Yes, it’s good to say your opinions and get noticed. However you wouldn’t shout over everyone, so don’t do the equivalent online and just announce your news. Listen to the others around you. If someone makes an interesting point, reply by commenting directly to their post.
You will be rewarded more from listening and talking to others, than broadcasting your opinion.
3. Show-Off Your Skills
Your LinkedIn profile should be as confident and self-promoting as your CV. You want to advertise yourself to other professionals and make them interested in you.
Don’t be shy.
Have a speciality? Fantastic, add it to your profile. Managed a team? Make that known.
People can find you based on the skills you provide on your profile. Therefore, take extra care when selecting the terms you use to describe your skill. If you are unsure what to tag your skill as, research what the wording other members are using.
Your connections can endorse you for a skill. This is a form of recognition, whereby a member is saying “They are good at this” and putting their name against this complement. By doing this, you get all their credibility from their profile added to yours.
Feel confident in endorsing others; it’s nice to praise others. Just don’t go trigger happy, otherwise your endorsements won’t seem genuine.
- Connect With Aspirational Businesses
As well as connecting with individuals, you can connect with companies. It is good to connect with business because this displays your personality through brands you associate yourself with.
If there are businesses you want to work with, connecting with them is a great way of showing your interest. When you connect with them, the company will be notified of this. You will also receive their updates in your newsfeed; giving you greater opportunity to engage with their content.
LinkedIn Builds Credibility
In a study by Greentarget Strategic Communications, LinkedIn was seen as the most credible social media channel against Google+, Facebook and Twitter. These channels have the highest user population out of all social media networks, therefore LinkedIn is well regarded.
Furthermore, 88% of participants said that they perceive the content on LinkedIn as trustworthy. However, the majority of lawyers and solicitors using social media would rather listen to the conversation than participate.
Therefore you have the chance to get ahead of your competitors.
As people perceive LinkedIn content as trustworthy, your updates with be well regarded content in a market where no one else is piping up. This gives you the opportunity to stand out as the thought leader against your competitors.
Optimise Your LinkedIn Profile
There are several sections within your LinkedIn profile. To ensure you optimise them, the following segment goes through each section one by one.
Humans are naturally drawn to faces; therefore anyone viewing your profile is likely to look at your profile picture. Keep it professional and simple.
This is you in a 180 character snapshot. Keep it snappy and to the point, think about how you would describe yourself if you were a headline to a newspaper or book title.
Whilst your headline is to grab attention quickly, your summary can get a bit more personal. This section gives you 8,000 characters use it to tell your story - on who you are and what you have done. If you are unsure how to phrase your summary, research how your colleagues and peers are doing it. It’s also worth looking at the profiles of the people who rank the highest on searches for your specific job role.
However, remember that this is a chance for you to show off a bit of your personality and differentiate yourself from others.
In a similar fashion to your CV, summarise your employment history role by role. Convey your key contributions, but ensure that the focus is always on you and your achievements. With 2,000 characters available per position, you have the opportunity to write in a good amount of detail here. If you do decide to use formatting, such as bullet points, retain the same format throughout each job description.
If you have any published work, for example a white paper or a blog, add it to your profile. Publicising your achievements gives viewers the opportunity to find out more about your interests and opinions, making it even easier for them to contact you.
The skills section has already been discussed in detail within this article. However, note that you can only have 10 top skills and list up to 50 skills in total.
As well as filling this out with your previous educational achievements, add detail were necessary. For example, if you have a degree then take this opportunity to explain your dissertation topic; but remember that the technical jargon may need explaining.
Help viewers get in contact with you by listing alternative ways to get in touch, such as your Twitter handle. It isn’t essential that you provide this information, however it may result in more interaction, as some viewers may feel more comfortable with alternative methods of communication to LinkedIn.
Honours & Awards
If you have any relevant professional achievements, boast about them here. This is a non-invasive way of displaying your expertise to others.
This section depends on other users writing recommendations about you. You monitor the approval process on your profile and can even ask the writer for edits!
Ask a variety of current and previous colleagues to write a recommendation of you. To increase your chances of recommendations, be open to writing ones for others.
You can even write recommendations as a thank you for business interactions, to influence a continued relationship with that individual.
Use this advice to get ahead of competitors and build your personal credibility. Just remember that social media is about interacting with others, so treat LinkedIn like your other networking outlets.
If you want more information about using LinkedIn for your solicitors firm or how it can help your career or business grow then feel free to download our guide...