LinkedIn is one of the few social networks that can make you more successful. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter might give you news and make you laugh, but LinkedIn has the power to build connections that change your life forever.
Few people, however, used LinkedIn to its full potential. Some people don’t use LinkedIn at all.
But the number of LinkedIn users is steadily growing. Today, nearly half of all Americans are on LinkedIn. In Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK, one third of the population is on LinkedIn. There are more than 433 million LinkedIn members worldwide, and that number is climbing every day.
Many of these people are your bosses. Some are your future bosses are future coworkers. Others are future clients.
You can’t ignore LinkedIn any longer. With that in mind, here’s our ultimate guide on how to use LinkedIn to its full potential.
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What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social network that was launched in 2003. While other social networks focused on making friends, sharing memes, and telling people about the “fun” side of you, LinkedIn focused on the professional side of social networking.
LinkedIn started off slowly but has continued growing over the years. Today, it’s the third or fourth most popular social network based on the number of unique daily visitors (depending on your source) and is frequently ranked as one of the top 20 most-visited websites in the world.
If you’ve never used LinkedIn before, think of it like Facebook for your working life. It makes it easy to show off your professional credentials, advertise your qualifications online, join groups related to your profession, and expand your professional network.
Why Should I Use LinkedIn?
You may think, “I already have a resume. Why would I bother setting up LinkedIn?”
Well, LinkedIn can be useful for a range of different reasons. Some people use LinkedIn for all of the reasons listed below, while others just pick one or two different reasons:
-Networking with coworkers, friends, relatives, bosses, and other people you know or interact with on a regular basis
-Marketing themselves or their business to the world
-Interacting with professional groups based on your profession, geographic location, or job title
-Staying up-to-date on corporate news from different companies
-Showing off qualifications to future employers like a virtual resume
Ultimately, LinkedIn can be as useful or useless as you want it to be. Some people will setup a profile under their name and then never touch their profile again. Others will setup a profile, upload everything they’ve ever done to that profile, and then connect with everyone they’ve ever met.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to setup your profile for however you’re planning to use it.
How to Setup a LinkedIn Profile
Like all good social networks, LinkedIn makes it dead easy to sign up. Just go to https://www.linkedin.com/ and enter your first name, last name, email address, and password into the front page.
After that, you’re ready to setup your LinkedIn profile.
On the menu at the top of the page, hover your cursor over Profile then click Edit Profile.
You can now customize everything on your profile. Some of the important things to tackle right now include your location, job title, current employer, and education.
While you’re at it, upload your profile picture. Consider adding your previous experience and a summary of yourself.
Claim your Custom LinkedIn URL
Next, you’ll want to claim your custom LinkedIn profile URL, which can be found just under your profile photo on your LinkedIn page. By default, you’ll have a profile URL with your name. However, those with common names may find that their name is already taken, in which case you may receive a custom profile URL like LinkedIn.com/JohnSmith235111.
Instead of having a URL with numbers after it, consider using a URL with your middle initial to make your profile URL yours.
There’s good reason to change your LinkedIn profile URL: it helps with SEO. When someone types your name into Google, your LinkedIn profile is more likely to appear on the search engine results page.
Add a LinkedIn Background Photo
LinkedIn has always had profile photos – just like every social media network in existence.
But they also recently added background photos. Just like Facebook has a cover photo, your LinkedIn profile can have a background photo.
You can edit your background photo directly from your page. Just go to the top of your page and look for the “Add a background photo” button. There are some basic restrictions with this photo. It needs to be a JPG, PNG, or GIF file under 8MB in size. The ideal resolution is 1440×425 pixels.
People have done all sorts of different things for a background photo. Some people take a picture of their office. Other people use a picture of them speaking at a major event. Some people just use a picture of their current company’s office building or campus. And then there are others who just use a picture with abstract images and designs that don’t really mean anything.
It’s really up to you to get creative here. But do remember that LinkedIn is a professional social network and that future employers or clients may be looking at your profile.
Add a LinkedIn Profile Badge to Other Websites
Do you have your own blog or personal website? Grow your LinkedIn following by adding a “View my profile on LinkedIn” badge. You can view LinkedIn’s badges here.
People can’t follow you on LinkedIn if they don’t know you have a page. Some people add the above badge codes to their email signature, as well, for maximum coverage.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn’s Three Backlinks on Your Profile
LinkedIn has three valuable do-follow backlinks on your profile page. You can customize these backlinks with whatever anchor text and URL you like, so they’re pretty valuable.
Most people use these links to link towards their official website and their other social media profiles. Practice basic SEO by adding anchor text filled with keywords. If you’re a graphic artist, for example, then link to your official website using anchor text like “Denver Graphic Artist John Smith”. Or, just using your name is enough to push you up in search rankings.
To customize the links on your LinkedIn profile, go to Profile >Edit Profile from the site’s top navigation section, then click the Contact Info section and click the pencil (edit) icon next to your website links, choosing “Other” from the drop-down menu.
You get three links by default. Use them wisely.
Implement Basic SEO Strategies Into Your LinkedIn Job Descriptions
LinkedIn gives you plenty of fields where you can add text and talk about yourself. You have paragraphs where you can talk about previous jobs and titles and explain exactly what you did.
This is a great place to flex your SEO skills. Use strategic keywords to talk about yourself and what you do.
Don’t stuff your page with keywords. Search engines will catch onto that and possibly punish your search rankings.
Also remember to use the most commonly-accepted job titles for your work. Instead of calling yourself a “sanitation supervisor” or “hygiene technician”, just call yourself a janitor (or call yourself whatever you want searchers to use to find your page).
If you have a job title with a few common variations, then make sure to add all of those variations to your page. Say you’re a speech language pathologist, for example. Add words like “SLP”, speech therapy, speech and language therapist, and any other commonly-accepted job titles to your page.
Share Your Best Work with the World
LinkedIn makes it easy to share your work samples. You can add media to all of your job titles and previous jobs, for example, which lets you add a document, photo, link, video, or even a presentation directly to your LinkedIn page. LinkedIn also lets you arrange these samples in different ways, allowing you to highlight your best work first.
Customize your LinkedIn Profile and Move Sections Around
Most social media websites force you to use one single type of layout. You can’t customize your Facebook profile by switching around boxes, for example, and Twitter won’t let you do much more than change your photos, pinned tweet, and background images.
But LinkedIn takes that concept and throws it out the window. With LinkedIn, you can rearrange entire sections of your profile in any way you like.
To do that, go to Edit mode and hover your mouse over the double arrow in each section. Your mouse will turn into a quadruple arrow, at which point you can drag and drop the section anywhere on your screen. Drop the section anywhere on your profile to highlight your best work first.
Some people are particularly proud of their “skills and endorsements” section, for example, where other people can endorse you for various skills and qualifications. If you have dozens of people endorsing skills related to your profession, then you may want to drag that section to the top.
Hearing someone brag about their qualifications doesn’t mean too much. But seeing other people endorse that person for their qualifications means a lot.
Add Other Resume Details to LinkedIn
You’ve probably noticed there are entire sections of your profile that still need to be filled out – like previous work experience and volunteer experience. Some people go into meticulous detail and fill out everything they’ve ever done and everywhere they’ve ever worked.
Most people, however, treat this like a virtual resume. If you’re actively searching for a job, feature jobs and volunteer positions related to your desired job. Be picky and choosy: most people aren’t going to scroll through your LinkedIn page for more than 20 to 30 seconds anyway.
In any case, you should add your education, skills, hobbies, and any other resume information to your LinkedIn profile.
Add your skills to round out your resume. Adding your skills is important because it’s what your contacts will see when they give you endorsements. Your connections will be able to click a “plus” icon next to each skill to give you an endorsement, so make sure you add skills that are valuable and deserve to be highlighted (and obviously, advertise skills that your connections have seen you perform).
Once you’ve done this, you’re pretty much finished setting up your profile page and you’re ready to start using LinkedIn to find jobs and find connections.
How to Use LinkedIn to Find Connections
LinkedIn is a professional networking site. If you’ve followed this guide so far, then all you’ve done is make a profile. Now, it’s time to start finding connections and using those connections to take full advantage of all features LinkedIn has to offer.
Understandably, LinkedIn makes it easy to add contacts from all your social media platforms and email accounts. Keep reading to find out how.
Think About How Choosy You Want to Be With Connections
Before you start going on an adding spree, make sure you know what type of LinkedIn user you want to be.
Are you going to be the LinkedIn user who adds everyone they’ve ever met to their network?
Or are you going to be the LinkedIn user who only adds people you know extremely well and with whom you have worked closely?
Most people strike a balance somewhere in between. But it’s good to think about this now. Otherwise, you may encounter some awkwardness when you have to delete your third grade teacher from your LinkedIn network three weeks after adding her.
Now that you’ve thought about that, it’s time to learn how to add everyone you’ve ever met to LinkedIn.
How to Add Email Contacts to LinkedIn
Log into LinkedIn and hover your cursor over the person shape with a plus symbol (it’s in the top right corner of your screen, just beside your profile photo).
From that menu, you’ll see an Add Contacts section.
By default, popular email providers like Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo are listed. Click on any of those icons to instantly connect your email account and then view the LinkedIn profiles of anybody you’ve ever emailed.
Do you use an email address that’s not on Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo? Click the “Other” button and add your email, then follow the steps to find your contacts.
How to Add Contacts from Other Social Media Onto LinkedIn
Unfortunately, LinkedIn only lets you add email contacts onto LinkedIn. You can’t directly add contacts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other social networks you use.
However, you can indirectly add contacts from these services in a few different ways.
Most email platforms – including Yahoo and Gmail – let you add contacts from Facebook directly to your email account. On Yahoo, for example, click the Contacts link on the left-hand side of the screen, then check the right side of the screen for the Popular Tools section. You should see a line that says Import your Contacts from other accounts to Yahoo!. Then click Import Now and click the Facebook logo (or any other social media logo).
If any of your Facebook contacts had visible, publically-shared email addresses, then they’ll now be part of your Yahoo Mail or Gmail contacts list. Now, go back to the previous step and add contacts to LinkedIn from your email again – all of your new contacts from Facebook will show up.
Someone wrote a more detailed guide of how to add Facebook contacts to LinkedIn here, including how to add contacts via a CSV file.
Of course, you could do this in a simpler way and just look at your Facebook friends’ profiles for an email address, then search for that email address on LinkedIn. But this can take longer if you plan on adding lots of people.
Take Advantage of the Open Profile Feature
Now that you’ve send requests to a bunch of people you already know, it’s time to expand your network even further.
One way to do this is to take advantage of the Open Profile feature. By default, LinkedIn only lets you send messages to people with whom you have a first degree connection (i.e. you have at least one mutual friend).
However, the Open Profile feature lets you send messages to anyone. You can only activate it as a Premium user. Free users, however, can send any member of the Open Profile network a message.
To send a message to an Open Profile user, just visit that person’s profile and click the Send an InMail option. Or, if that option isn’t on their main profile page, hover over the down arrow over top of the user’s profile and click Send an InMail. If you don’t see this option, then their Open Profile may not be activated.
In any case, it’s a good way to open your network to new connections – including people who may be in higher positions at your company.
Get Social with Network Updates
LinkedIn has gradually expanded its Network Updates feature over time, turning it into a classier version of Facebook’s news feed.
Now, LinkedIn has a notoriously low engagement rate. So don’t expect to see quite as much activity in your LinkedIn profile as you would on other social networks. However, that just makes your interactions all the more valuable!
Consider commenting on your company’s LinkedIn page updates or your friends’ updates. Share updates of your own related to your geographic location, career, or job position.
One helpful thing about LinkedIn is that you can search for Network Updates by Top Updates or Recent Updates– so you don’t need to sign into LinkedIn twelve times a day to stay up-to-date on all major news and updates.
Make Sure People Can Find You
Right now, you’ve done all the hard work and reached out to people for invites. Now, it’s time to make it easy for people to come to you.
To do that, go to your Settings menu (you can find it under the thumbnail image in the top right corner of your screen) and click Manage next to Privacy & Settings.
Look for the option Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile under Profile > Privacy Controls. Make sure Your name and headline (Recommended) is selected. By activating this option, you can start to take advantage of one of LinkedIn’s most popular features, which lets you see who has viewed your profile in recent months.
Of course, you can deactivate this option and choose to either go totally anonymous or choose to only display your industry and title (both of which will disable Profile Stats and prevent you from seeing who has viewed your profile).
Keep Tabs on Who’s Checking Out Your LinkedIn Profile
Has somebody been considering you for a job? Are you being checked out for a promotion? The “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature on LinkedIn is something you’ll either love or hate.
You can find it under the main navigation’s Profile section, where you can keep tabs on everyone who has visited your profile recently.
This is one of those services that makes LinkedIn unique among social networks. No other major social networks let you track who has visited your page.
Use the Find Alumni Feature
Want to connect with people from your alma mater – even if you don’t have their email address? LinkedIn’s alma mater feature lets you connect with alumni from wherever you went to school.
Take advantage of this feature and consider adding some of your college and university contacts. Reach out to an old professor to get a recommendation for grad school, for example.
You can access the Find Alumni feature here.
Start Using Groups for Self-Promotion and Networking
LinkedIn’s Groups feature has gone through a bit of a rise and fall in recent years. in the early days of LinkedIn, you could join any number of groups and start contributing immediately.
In recent years, LinkedIn has refined the groups feature to make it more exclusive and professional. Groups are now private and membership must be approved.
However, once you’ve been approved for a group, your conversations will no longer require moderation.
If you’ve used LinkedIn’s Groups before, then you may notice that the Promotions and Subgroups tabs have disappeared.
Ultimately, these changes won’t affect most LinkedIn users, since most people don’t use groups.
However, certain industries are still very much active within LinkedIn groups. Search for your profession, geographic location, or company on LinkedIn groups to start interacting with like-minded people. It’s great for networking with active LinkedIn users.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn Endorsements
I briefly mentioned LinkedIn’s Endorsements section above. This section lets you brag about your top skills by getting endorsements from other people. LinkedIn introduced this feature in 2014 and it’s become very popular – mostly because LinkedIn reminds you to endorse your friends almost every time you sign in.
After all, an endorsement from someone else means a lot more than an endorsement coming from your own mouth.
Now that you have all these contacts, it’s time to leverage them by making them highlight your top skills.
Your connections will automatically be asked to endorse you for the skills listed in your profile. And, when they visit your profile, all they need to do is click a little “plus” button next to your skills to give you an endorsement.
Of course, you can’t guarantee your connections will agree with your endorsements. If they’ve never seen you speak in public, for example, then you probably won’t get a “Public Speaking” endorsement.
Promote Yourself Further By Cross-Promoting LinkedIn Updates on Twitter
Linked and Twitter went through a dramatic breakup back in 2012. Ever since, tweets have no longer been able to appear anywhere on LinkedIn.
The opposite, however, is still true: you can still setup your LinkedIn page so your updates are automatically posted onto Twitter.
Understandably, only the first 140 characters of your update will be shared to Twitter. If you have a large Twitter following, and want to let them know you have a LinkedIn page, then this is a great cross-promotional marketing tool.
Add your Twitter account to LinkedIn by going to the Privacy Settings menu (found under your profile photo in the top right corner of the homepage). Then, click the Account tab at the top of the page. Under the Third partiessection, click Change next to Twitter settings, then click Manage your Twitter settings. You’ll find a section where you can add, remove, or add another Twitter account to your account information.
One nice thing about this tool is that you can selectively add updates to Twitter – so not all of your updates will be posted to Twitter by default.
When you’re sharing an update on LinkedIn, look below the main text box for the Share dropdown menu. You’ll see options like “Share with Public”, “Share with just your connections” and “Share with public + Twitter [your username]”.
Start Tagging People in Updates
All the big social networks let you tag and mention people in your status updates, and LinkedIn is no exception. They’ve had this feature since 2013, and it works just like you see it work on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
To use this feature, just use the @ symbol when you’re writing a content update, then write the user or company’s name afterwards. That user or company will receive an alert when you mention them. In your status update, their names will get turned into a link to their individual profile or company page.
How to Use LinkedIn as a Free Business Marketing Tool
LinkedIn isn’t just for marketing your professional self anymore. It’s also a powerful free business marketing tool companies are increasingly using to grow their online presence.
LinkedIn, for a professional network, was surprisingly late to the game at optimizing its company profile pages. Today, however, companies all over the world are treating LinkedIn pages with just as much importance as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages: it’s just another necessary social network page you need to use.
Whether you’re a business owner or you work for a business, you may want to setup a LinkedIn company page to expand your online presence.
How to Setup a LinkedIn Company Page
Setting up a LinkedIn company page is easy. Follow these steps:
Step 1) Go here to add your company to LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/add/show
Step 2) Enter your company name and your personal email address at that company, then confirm that you’re an authorized representative of the company who is trusted to make an official LinkedIn page.
Step 3) Complete your company profile by entering a brief description and overview. Try to be concise – remember, people won’t spend more than 30 seconds or so reading through any company’s profile. Don’t forget to enter your business’s specialties, industry, niches, and anything else that makes your business unique.
Step 4) Add a banner and logo to your company page. Your logo is the easy one. It’s what pops up when users search for your company on LinkedIn, so make sure it’s your official logo. The banner photo is a wide photo that spans across your business page. Some businesses use it to highlight an image of their employees. Others use it for a picture of their business’s physical location or office.
That’s it! You’ve created a LinkedIn page for your business.
Ask Coworkers and Employees to Add Your Company to LinkedIn
Your coworkers and employees can now add your company to LinkedIn. When they add your company to their LinkedIn page, they’ll automatically show up as employees (assuming they’ve already listed the business as their employer).
This can be very helpful for your business: future customers can know exactly who works for your company and what type of people make up your business. It’s not such a big deal for large businesses, where customers may interact with a different face every time. However, this can be a big boost for small and medium-sized businesses.
Make Sure People Know About Your Business’s LinkedIn Page
Your business’s LinkedIn page needs to be promoted. Link to it in other marketing channels. Place a link in your other social media profile descriptions, for example, or add a button link in your newsletters and email signatures.
Put a follow button on your website so people can follow your business on LinkedIn with one click without ever actually going to LinkedIn. You can find LinkedIn’s buttons and codes at their developers’ section here.
Show Off Your Business’s Unique Brands, Products, and Services with Showcase Pages
LinkedIn got rid of its Products & Services page feature in 2014. That page let you list products and services for your business on a separate page, including a complete list of everything your company sells.
In more recent years, LinkedIn has promoted its Showcase Pages instead. Showcase Pages are niche pages that are found under your existing company page.
Typically, we see companies use Showcase Pages to highlight specific brands, products, and services.
Your Showcase Pages appear like a separate company page. Each Showcase Page can have its unique logo, banner, and updates.
You can add up to 10 Showcase Pages under each company page. To add a Showcase Page to your company profile, click the Edit dropdown menu in the top right corner of your company page (right under Following) and click Create a Showcase Page.
Attract Targeted Followers to your Business
If you feel like spending money on LinkedIn, you can put your business’s page in front of targeted LinkedIn users – including people in certain industries, companies, and regions. If you’re a B2B service catering to plumbers in Chicago, for example, then you can put your company profile page on the news feeds of LinkedIn users who meet those exact descriptions.
You can learn more about LinkedIn’s follow ads here.
Start Posting Company Status Updates
You’ve started to attract followers – now it’s time to keep them interested in your company by posting company status updates.
Companies take all different types of approaches with status updates. Most companies take the easy path, and just link to a recent blog post announcing news about their company.
Some companies get more creative, sharing content updates from their own followers, highlighting and commenting on industry news, or targeting content updates to specific followers.
Add Targeted Status Updates
LinkedIn’s status updates can be shared with your entire following. Or, you can customize it so only some of your followers see your update. LinkedIn’s update targeting options are exceptionally useful – especially if you have a large number of followers from diverse backgrounds.
The only real restriction with this targeting option is that your target needs to consist of at least 100 users.
You can target groups based on the size of their company, their job function, seniority, geographic location, language, or other criteria.
Language, understandably, is a popular way to segment contact updates, especially if your company works with international clients or if you live in a multilingual part of the world.
In any case, your followers will see targeted updates in their news feeds just as they would see a normal update from your company. They’re indistinguishable.
Take Advantage of LinkedIn Pulse to Get Industry News
Want to keep up-to-date on the biggest and most important news from your industry? LinkedIn wants to help with its Pulse feature, which is surprisingly helpful.
LinkedIn Pulse lets you browse through trending content based on what people in your industry like to read or know about. LinkedIn customizes this content based on your interests.
Check out Pulse here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/
After scrolling through the main Pulse page, take a look at the Top Posts to see the most popular content all across the entire LinkedIn Pulse network. Or, click the Discover more link to get recommendations on content you shouldbe following for more information on your industry or profession.
Publish Content to Pulse
Pulse isn’t just for looking at: anyone can publish content to Pulse. That’s a big change from the early days of Pulse, when publishing was restricted to LinkedIn Influencers. Today, anyone with the right content and the right timing can go viral on Pulse.
If you want to publish to Pulse, click the Publish a post button on your LinkedIn homepage. Or, look for theInterests dropdown menu at the top of LinkedIn and click Pulse, then Publish a post (in the top right corner of the page).
Consider Using LinkedIn Ads and Sponsored Updates
LinkedIn has monetized its professional social network by offering a variety of ads and sponsored updates you can use to expand your business’s outreach.
LinkedIn Ads are PPC ads that, as you might expect, allow you to highly-target your advertising campaign based on specific job titles, job functions, industries, geographic location, company size, and all other metrics that LinkedIn keeps track of.
One important thing to remember with LinkedIn is that it has an unusually high conversion rate. Hubspot performed a big study on LinkedIn’s conversions and found that the network was 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter.
What that means is that when someone is checking out your business on LinkedIn, they’ve already indicated that they’re interested in your services in some way. In fact, 2.74% of visitors to your company page will be turned into leads (according to the Hubspot study). Compare that to just 0.69% on Twitter and 0.77% on Facebook, and you learn why companies are starting to pay more attention to LinkedIn.
Join LinkedIn Groups or Create Your Own Group
Join a group to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry – or just use them to learn from some of the best in your industry.
Some people create their own group if they can’t find a relevant group. This can almost be like cheating your way into becoming a thought leader: people will automatically treat you as a leader in your industry if you created the biggest LinkedIn group in your industry!
Ultimately, groups can be as helpful as you want them to be. Use groups to foster ideas with other professionals, to generate new clients, to recruit top talent, and to attract new customers to your business.
Recruit Your Next Great Employee
Some companies don’t use any of the things I just mentioned on LinkedIn: instead, they use LinkedIn primarily as a recruitment tool.
If you’re looking to use LinkedIn for recruitment, then head to the Careers section of your Company Page, from where you can promote available job openings.
If you’re filling a competitive position, consider paying LinkedIn to sponsor your career update.
The Careers page can also feature messages from your current employees telling people what it’s like to work at your company.
By following the tips and guides listed above, you’ll learn how to use LinkedIn like a pro. The company is adding new features all the time, so check back frequently for the best LinkedIn tips and tricks!