How to ex­cel at LinkedIn

Some 400m peo­ple in more than 200 coun­tries are cur­rently pro­mot­ing them­selves and their busi­nesses on LinkedIn. While it re­quires some ef­fort, LinkedIn can lead to great things.

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is the need­ier of the so­cial me­dia plat­forms. With Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter you can eas­ily stalk your ex while also judg­ing your friends’ un­for­tu­nate self­ies and food pics, with­out any ef­fort from your side.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, is hard work. It is con­stantly re­mind­ing you to en­dorse the Pow­erpoint skills of some­one you worked with 10 years ago, while hound­ing you to agree to con­nec­tions with strangers and alert­ing you to the fact that other peo­ple are look­ing at your pro­file.

LinkedIn, much like your ex, is slightly ob­nox­ious and re­fus­ing to fade away any­time soon.

Mi­crosoft re­cently de­cided to fork out $26bn to buy LinkedIn, fol­low­ing the plat­form’s im­mense growth in re­cent years. The site has be­come cru­cial to com­pa­nies look­ing for em­ploy­ees and to any­one look­ing for pro­fes­sional ser­vices. Also, LinkedIn users are heavy­weights: they earn a much higher in­come than the mem­bers of other so­cial me­dia plat­forms, and LinkedIn users are older (read: they make the de­ci­sions). No sur­prise, then, that the con­ver­sion rate of a LinkedIn lead into ac­tual busi­ness is much higher than on Face­book or Twit­ter.

In­creas­ingly, LinkedIn is be­com­ing the first port of call be­fore you go into a meet­ing with some­one you don’t know well, or when you are in­ter­act­ing with a new com­pany, says He­len Ni­chol­son, CEO (the ‘E’ stands for ‘ex­cite­ment’) at Jo­han­nes­burg­based The Net­work­ing Com­pany, which as­sists or­gan­i­sa­tions with busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. “LinkedIn is a pow­er­ful re­search tool that gives you a much clearer un­der­stand­ing of that per­son or com­pany.”

The dif­fer­ence be­tween LinkedIn and a com­pany web­site is that LinkedIn is a more trusted and neu­tral plat­form, where a com­pany’s ser­vices are en­dorsed by ac­tual clients, says Ni­chol­son.

“LinkedIn also al­lows you to see how many shared con­nec­tions you have, and it’s a pow­er­ful way to build your per­sonal brand.” It is fast be­com­ing the first im­pres­sion you make on busi­ness as­so­ci­ates.

How to make the most out of LinkedIn:

It is cru­cial to have a pic­ture of your­self as part of your pro­file. “But don’t use your wed­ding photo – this isn’t Face­book,” warns Ni­chol­son. Get a pro­fes­sional head-and-shoul­ders photo. Don’t use a selfie, or your com­pany logo. This is the magic num­ber on LinkedIn, says Ni­chol­son. The LinkedIn al­go­rithm will push your pro­file higher if you reach 500 con­nec­tions. (Also, hav­ing only a cou­ple of con­nec­tions re­flects badly on your weight in the world.) ‘Mak­ing a con­nec­tion’ is a bit like friend­ing on Face­book. But un­like Face­book, LinkedIn is not about con­nect­ing with your ex­ist­ing net­work of friends, says Ni­chol­son. “It is about ac­tively ex­pand­ing your pro­fes­sional net­work.” This means that, un­like with Face­book, you should al­low con­nec­tions with peo­ple you don’t know. Ni­chol­son has two rules: she only ac­cepts con­nec­tions of a per­son who fea­tures a photo, and of strangers who work in the same in­dus­try as her. Also, be sus­pi­cious if a pro­file only has a few con­nec­tions. You can quickly build a net­work of con­nec­tions by dig­ging up all the old busi­ness cards buried in your desk drawer, and spend­ing time con­nect­ing with past as­so­ci­ates. If you want to con­nect with some­one who you don’t know well, send an ac­com­pa­ny­ing friendly mes­sage ex­plain­ing what you may have in com­mon.

LinkedIn users are heavy­weights: they earn a much higher in­come than the mem­bers of other so­cial me­dia plat­forms, and LinkedIn users are older (read: they make the de­ci­sions).

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