Imagine professionals, recruiters and companies can access your background, CV and professional history whenever they want to, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year… This can be scary at first, but suppose you also have the ability to portray the perfect image that sells your skills, career ambitions and who you are. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
With the help of LinkedIn, you can join 756 million people and capitalise on LinkedIn, an easy and functional professional networking platform that connects professionals all over the globe.
Just like any other digital platform, there are some basics that need to be in-place to ensure your profile is discovered and if you learn to apply the right content to your profile, you can draw the attention of the right crowd and might get headhunted.
How do you want to benefit from LinkedIn?
Having a clear intention will help steer your decisions and personal LinkedIn strategy in a direction that you can continue to build while you grow your career. Here are a couple of reasons why others want to optimise and maximise their LinkedIn profile:
- Connecting with like-minded professionals across the globe
- Becoming part of the professional community and contributing to innovation and thought leadership in their industry
- To search and find their dream job
- Recruiters can find the best global talent using LinkedIn
- Companies and individuals can meet new prospective buyers and clients
- To learn through LinkedIn Learning and grow their skills
Whatever your reasons, we are here to give you some tips and recommendations around creating a LinkedIn profile to knock the socks off any professional.
Your Personal, Professional Brand Positioning
Your LinkedIn profile is a representation of the professional you. The various elements, tone and professionalism you use to create a profile are all subtle hints about the type of person you are in the workplace. You might not be good at admin, or you work in an industry where it’s not required but remember that whoever discovers your profile only have the information on your profile to go by.
Imagine you are a product brand and that your LinkedIn profile is one of the communication channels, like a website, to tell people about you.
How would you position and ‘sell’ yourself to the outside world and how will this differentiate you from other people with the same qualifications?
Do you want to appear formal, experienced and precise or are you more casual, relaxed and conversational?
Another question that can help you establish your personal brand is deciding what you stand for, what your values are and the type of worker you are. Why are you daily doing the work you are and how can an organisation benefit by having you?
The last, and probably one of the most important elements, relates to your personal skills. Most employers value skills more than qualifications. It would be wise to complete the qualifications section, but more importantly start to identify the skills that will set your apart from other people in the industry. South Africans are generally humble people, but you need to become your biggest fan in the business world. Keep your humility, but value yourself enough to sell your skills to ensure people know how you can help their business.
Don’t forget that the language you use and the way you engage with people will also contribute towards your personal brand. Be respectful, mindful and add your personality. Try and incorporate the answers to the questions above and create captivating copy that combines your identity with accepted industry terms and phrases.
Creating a Strong LinkedIn Profile From the Start
Registering and having a fully completed LinkedIn profile is the first step in setting yourself up for online success. It’s been proven that an all-star profile performs better in search results, and with your improved discoverability you want to ensure your profile is the best it can be.
Don’t worry if you are slightly uncertain around how to create a LinkedIn profile, the system will guide you through the easy process of completing the basic profile set-up. Once completed your profile will also guide you in additional steps and providing information required to reach all-star status.
From the onset consider the elements you choose for your profile set-up and ensure you tick the following boxes:
- A profile picture that fits your professional image. Keep it head and shoulders picture on a clear background that honours your personality while also considering the industry you work in.
- A great profile heading or name that gives recruiters and professionals a quick and clear idea of who you are. Some people use their job title here but see if you can add a spark of personality to it while not being too creative for people to know what it is about.
- A professional email address, steering clear from ones like email@example.com. Create a new one if you have to, but remember that every piece of information will determine whether people want to connect with you.
- Ensure your spelling is flawless and get someone to check your profile if you are uncertain. Remember that first impressions last and you don’t want them to think you are a sloppy worker due to spelling errors on your page.
- An intriguing LinkedIn summary statement that will captivate people. This is like an executive summary of you, saying briefly the most important things about you, your work and your ambitions.
- Always have an updated profile that clearly lays out your work experience and career history. Recruiters and professionals will pick up gaps in your resume and it’s not different when you look at someone’s LinkedIn profile.
Read this article for more information on LinkedIn registration and creating your profile for the first time.
Use The Keywords to Opportunity
Using the correct words will not only improve your discoverability, but it will also make industry peers feel ‘at ease’ to connect and converse with you. While the word selection throughout your profile paints a professional picture of you, it also contains industry terms that is imperative to your industry and career.
When recruiters seek out potential candidates, they use specific words that will be related to the vacancy and industry. They’ll search for an ‘editor’ in ‘Cape Town’ and therefore and if your profile is focussed on being a copywriter to include related content and experience, you won’t land at the top of their search. It’s important to realise that you cannot be everything for everyone. Choose your industry, the job description that matches your ambitions and craft your profile around that.
You can also make a list of the imperative keywords you think recruiters or companies will use in their search and be sure you include them, especially if you’ve recently graduated and are still learning about industry terms. You can read this article about how to find the best talent on LinkedIn to better understand keywords and search bar usage by recruiters.
Active Posting and Positive Engagement Creates a Network
All social platforms were created to connect people digitally and LinkedIn is the business-version of social networking. Just like social media, the more quality connections you have, the closer you move to opportunity, recommendations and shared knowledge on LinkedIn. Research has shown that the majority of placements for jobs and vacancies are done through referrals, so a strong network can benefit you even if you aren’t actively seeking a job.
LinkedIn will also select which content gets preference and will appear most to people’s newsfeeds as it’s simply impossible to see what all 500 of your connections are saying. Your digital relationship with these people will determine whether their content appears on your feed. Therefore, make an effort to comment and react to those people’s posts. If you actively engage you will also become more visible to them.
List the companies you want to work for, the thought leaders in your field you want to follow and the jobs you eventually want to work towards and start engaging with their content.
Send personal messages and don’t send those pre-set messages to wish someone happy birthday. The way you engage will also tell a story about who you are, so make every engagement count.
Groups on LinkedIn is another way to create powerful connections. These groups attract like-minded professionals, and you can engage on content related to your field while meeting talented people in the industry. You will also learn about the global developments in your field and how you can stay ahead of innovation, regardless of where in South Africa you are based.
Post every now and then as this will also ensure that people in your network notices you. Remember to use hashtags to draw the attention of people with the same interests and they might invite you to connect.
Strategic Thinking Separates the Cream from the Crop
If you want to be the best you need to think like the best. Search and analyse the profile of someone who is great at LinkedIn marketing. It might be a CEO who uses a professional digital and social media team, but the point here is you can learn from the best and apply those learnings to your profile.
Your strategic approach might not be clear immediately, but the more you work on LinkedIn and become used to it, the more you’ll recognise best practices and the direction you want to take in.
Do you want to become a thought leader in your field? Then you’ll have to develop and create new content, something that’s made easy and possible due to LinkedIn’s multimedia functions. If this is your approach you’ll have to also post and comment on related content more frequently.
The other strategic objective could be to build a professional profile as you work towards finding that dream job. This might be different as you might not want to go on and create new content like a thought leader would. Having a ready-to-apply profile will ensure you remain in the competitive job market in South Africa. Map out your career plans and follow the companies you want to apply for in the future. You can also read our article on how to optimise your profile to find the perfect job.
If you were looking for tips and recommendations around how to give your career a boost, LinkedIn might just be the headline act to give your digital profile the boost it needs.
Enjoy the experience of creating your professional persona and good luck!
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