As we begin 2014, now is an opportune time to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that you are using this powerful, professional social networking tool as effectively as possible.
If you work in the professional services industry, clients and prospects may be perusing your profile as they start thinking about their business plans for the year. If you lead a nonprofit organization, you know the importance of leveraging your personal network to connect with donors and corporate sponsors. And if you’re thinking about changing jobs this year, you definitely want to use LinkedIn as a tool to reach recruiters and potential employers.
- Log in daily – Once a week or – gasp! – once a month is not often enough to stay on top of connection requests, LinkedIn messages, group discussions, notifications and your contacts’ activity. Just as you check your email every morning, get into the habit of checking LinkedIn regularly.
- Adjust your privacy and notification settings – You can choose why and when you want to receive email notifications and who can see your connections and other information. You can also turn your activity broadcasts on or off (helpful if you’re making a bunch of updates – see #3 below). If you can’t log in to LinkedIn daily, you might at least want to receive daily email notifications so you won’t miss important updates.
- Update your profile – Are your current position and recent accomplishments listed? Do you have a well-crafted summary that tells other LinkedIn users who you are as a professional? Have you added your community involvement, skills and credentials?
- Add media – Take advantage of LinkedIn’s professional portfolio feature by showcasing videos, images, documents and links on your profile page.
- Respond to invitations to connect – Accept, reply or deny these but don’t leave them sitting in your inbox; a client, prospect or recruiter might be trying to reach you.
- Check your LinkedIn messages – See #5 above.
- Share something interesting – Posting a link to a news article, blog or event is an easy way to share valuable content and stay visible with your network. Out of ideas? See #9 below.
- Build your network – Use the “People You May Know” feature (accessible from the home page) to find LinkedIn users to connect to. You can also import contacts from your email accounts, CSV files and apps such as CardMunch and Evernote, but review your contact lists carefully before deciding if you’re going to import them.
- Customize your news – Pulse has replaced LinkedIn Today. Choose the types of content you want to see and which of LinkedIn’s 300+ Influencers you want to follow. If you read something interesting that may also be interesting to your contacts, share it.
- Join groups and contribute to discussions – Search for groups related to your interests, your industry and the industries or prospects you are targeting. Vet groups before you join to see if they are active and if they might be a good fit for you. There are more than 1 million groups on LinkedIn, so be selective. Listen to the conversation first, then actively participate by starting discussions or commenting on discussions posted by others.
- Follow-up through LinkedIn – Did you meet an interesting contact at that networking event last night? Don’t just collect his business card and send a follow-up email. Use LinkedIn to search for his profile, learn more about him (including whether you have any connections in common), and send him a connection request and a personalized message. Nurture the online relationship by sharing valuable content with your new contact.
- Give and get recommendations – Ask a client, coworker, or former supervisor to write a brief recommendation of your work for your LinkedIn profile, and offer to write recommendations for those whose work you truly appreciate. Although LinkedIn’s Endorsements feature has succeeded in increasing engagement on the site, written recommendations still hold more weight in the eyes of customers and employers.
With more than 259 million members and two new members joining every second, LinkedIn is the second most popular social network among online adults (Facebook remains #1), according to a new Pew Research social media study. Let 2014 be the year you finally start using it right!
Lisa Cawley Ruiz is a brand journalist in Kaufman Rossin’s Miami office. Kaufman Rossin is one of the top CPA firms in the country. Lisa can be reached at email@example.com or you can connect with her on LinkedIn.