In a previous post in my Digital Do’s & Don’ts series, I stated that: “LinkedIn is the professional opposite of Facebook.”
Without question, if you have or desire a professional career, you need to strategize about your personal brand identity (how you want others to see you), and LinkedIn is the go to social network to start.
Here are my:
Top 10 Digital Do’s and Don’ts: LinkedIn for PB&J.
10. Don’t let your Headline default.
After your name, the LinkedIn headline is the first thing seen by others. It serves many purposes.
First, your headline helps others to notice you. In a short 120 words or less, it tells them about brand you. The default headline is your most recent job title and employer, but you can do better.
A good headline should sell your personal brand to others and include: who you are, how you want others to see you, and your point of difference. Review and learn from how other like-minded professionals in your career focus use their headline to brand themselves.
Second, your headline helps others to find you. Include career focused keywords for internal search engine optimization (SEO).
As you develop and tweak your headline and other sections of your LinkedIn profile, be sure to adjust your privacy settings so that each edit is not broadcast to your connections.
9. Do tell your personal brand story in the Summary.
Assuming a visitor to your profile reads beyond your name and headline, the next best space for personal branding is the Summary.
Here you can expand on your headline and desired personal brand identity by showcasing your best experiences, skills, or qualifications (using bullet points), along with some personal brand storytelling. Write in the first person with short sentences, spacing, and an easy to scan format.
If you are a student with few career accomplishments, you can focus your personal brand story on your chosen career focus, the origin of your career focus, and the influences that led you to your career focus. Additionally, explain: (1) how your career focus connects with your passions, special interests, personality, or skills, (2) what more you want to learn, and (3) where you want to go with your career choices.
8. Do provide evidence and confirmation of your personal brand identity.
“LinkedIn supplements a traditional resume and job search by adding the show to the tell.”
At the end of the Summary sections (and in other sections), you can now add links or embeds to multi-media. Here you may: (1) provide links to your other professionally active social media, (2) a link to another more visual digital or life streaming profile (such as: About.Me, Flavors.Me, or Rebel Mouse), or (3) an embed or direct link to your best original content (such as: a popular blog post, YouTube video, Vine, or slideshow on SlideShare).
Best of all, you could embed a short video of your personal brand elevator pitch.
Additionally, students and creatives can add links and explanations to their best projects in the projects section, writers and bloggers can add links and explanations to their blog in the publications section, or anyone can now request access to use LinkedIn as a publishing/blogging platform.
Finally, shelve the selfie and use a current and professional quality headshot as your profile photo.
7. Don’t let LinkedIn endorsements go willy-nilly.
LinkedIn endorsements can easily run amuck.
Instead, you can strategically manage and control your LinkedIn endorsements by handpicking your best skills/qualifications for others to endorse, rejecting any non-career focused endorsements randomly proposed by others, and hiding any endorsements received from those you don’t really know or feel that they do not know your skills to authentically endorse them.
6. Do ask for guided recommendations.
If you are a remarkably indispensable employee, celebrated student, or superstar to your clients, then recommendations may come easily and without asking. But, don’t count on it.
Ideally, you should selectively and strategically ask important career stakeholders for a guided recommendation. By career stakeholders, I mean anyone that can vouch or confirm the primary selling points for your desired personal brand identity (such as: a professor in your major, an internship supervisor, a current or past boss or client). By guided recommendation, I mean you should guide or specify what qualities you would like them to consider focusing on in their short one or two paragraph LinkedIn recommendation.
5. Do use LinkedIn as a PLN to find great content to learn from and to social share elsewhere.
Besides the content social shared by your connections, LinkedIn can provide a planned personal learning network (PLN) to rival Twitter. By using Pulse, following Influencers, and joining LinkedIn Groups, you can keep up with industry news and trends, learn from the insight of career focused influencer thought leaders, and read what your competitors or targeted career company decision makers are reading and sharing.
4. Don’t be a link dropper or lazy curator.
“Your professional image deserves better than an impression of lazy.”
To amplify your visibility and provide additional confirmation of your personal brand identity, you must give back to the LinkedIn community of like-minded professionals by social sharing content relevant to your career focus.
However, social sharing on LinkedIn should never copy-post or resemble the link dropping behavior found on Twitter (dead give-away: #hashtags and RT in LinkedIn are inappropriate). LinkedIn generously provides you a golden opportunity for annotation or comment with every social share. So, use this personal brand building occasion to voice your expertise or opinion on the career related topics you share.
While engagement does not come easily on LinkedIn, others will notice and more likely read when you have added a bit of yourself into each social share.
3. Do join and participate in Groups.
An amazing thing about LinkedIn is that there are numerous professional groups for every career focus or interest.
Your first search is to find the alumni groups for all the schools and Universities you have attended. These group members are your most direct connections for future job search and career development opportunities, and provide great opportunities to make new LinkedIn first-degree connections and ask career relevant questions (warning: never spam or ask for jobs). Refer to your alumni relationship when you request someone as a valued future connection.
Your second search is to find the most career relevant of these professional groups. Again, go into these groups to learn first, ask questions second, social share third, and make new first-degree connections fourth.
Bonus tip: if a desired connection is a colleague, classmate, or mutual group member, you can invite them to connect on LinkedIn for free (otherwise, you pay). Therefore, you should join as many career important groups as possible, up to a maximum of 50.
2. Connect with your future.
Some recommend using LinkedIn to only connect with those you know personally. This shortchanges its potential and its true purpose as a networking tool.
If you go to a party, do you only connect with the people you already know? Of course not, you go to a party to see old friends/contacts and meet new people.
So it goes with this LinkedIn party, except that the focus is on quality professional connections and career development.
You should connect with as many career-relevant others as possible: (1) as long as you do know them (such as: family, friends, colleagues, professors, or met from recent physical networking), or (2) you want to get to know them (such as: thought leaders/influencers, potential employers or professional contacts) and hopefully reciprocally learn from each other.
If you connect with someone who proves them self a spammer, you can easily block the connection or hide their updates. And, to avoid being seen as a spammer, always personalize your connection invitations with their name, your relationship (such as: met at networking, share a group, fellow alumni, have a forthcoming job interview), and why you want to connect (such as: to learn from your social shares).
1. Don’t just use LinkedIn as a digital resume/CV.
Since LinkedIn begins as an extension of your one or two page resume, of course you should include a link to your LinkedIn public profile (yes, you must use the public profile link that is customized with your name). Then, potential employers can learn so much more about your personal brand and life and career development history.
Nonetheless, the real benefits of using LinkedIn can go far beyond that of a digital persona or presence.
Besides profiling, learning, and personal branding, you can engage.
On a daily basis (yes, I said daily), you should amplify your personal brand visibility on LinkedIn through engagement.
You can do this by simply scrolling through your Updates stream, clicking through to your Pulse news stream, or browsing your favorite Groups to learn something valuable for your career and remind others of your personal branding presence by: (1) pressing the Like button, (2) adding a meaningful comment, (3) asking a relevant question, or (4) social sharing the best content you have found elsewhere.
LinkedIn is a natural extension of your resume/CV.
Social recruiters are looking for you there.
Human resource gatekeepers are confirming your qualifications there.
Friends, colleagues, potential employers, potential clients, other career stakeholders, and like-minded professionals are connecting with you there.
Accordingly, don’t just post your resume, lurk, and learn. Connect, engage, and get your personal brand noticed.
What are your suggestions when using LinkedIn for personal branding and job search? Please comment.
Image credit: by Denny McCorkle
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