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.
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).