Tips from a LinkedIn expert

Last night I attended a very informative presentation by Debra Faris, a LinkedIn “expert” who provided some tips on how to improve your visibility on LinkedIn. She definitely knew what she was talking about and the meeting was valuable.

As most know, LinkedIn entered the scene in 2003 and quickly dominated the business social networking space. (Remember Monster.com? Does anyone use that site anymore?) For those seeking job opportunities, staying in touch with colleagues or networking for business connections, this is the meeting hub for such activities.

Naturally, you want to maximize your visibility to others. Here are my notes of what she had to say about accomplishing that:

A typical LinkedIn user may have 150-250 close contacts

But you should actively seek out and attract as many connections as possible because you really never know which one will lead to a connection or opportunity you want. You should make your profile attractive and engaging to encourage others to connect with you.

Your Profile should not be a copy/paste of your resume

Most of us build our LinkedIn profile by transferring what we have said on our resume. But this is really lifeless, clinical and rigid. It doesn’t really say who you are. Its a list and it has its important role of course.

Format your profile to drive your characteristics

But your LinkedIn profile needs to communicate who you are – your personality, skills, characteristics of what you are made of. It should tell viewers what kind of person you are – trustworthy, ethical, flexible, innovative, enthusiastic, generous, empowering, mentoring, etc. Whatever characteristics describe you ought to be emphasized in you profile. This will attract connections because it will be interesting.

Incidentally, Debra mentioned that the most important characteristic may be trustworthiness. If you are perceived as trustworthy, people will want to employ you or do business with you. Makes sense.

You need to network as much as possible, but be time-efficient.

Face to face meetings with others should be part of your weekly routine. You never really know what you will find out until you invest some time communicating one on one with someone. Building relationships, following up, helping others will all help lead you to opportunities.

You should really try to connect with a few people each week. Connect – not be simply present at a function. Build on each relationship. Without connecting, all you are doing is collecting business cards. You need to take time with a few contacts each week. See where it leads you. Debra suggests 3 individuals each week – and really connect!

Join groups on LinkedIn but limit visibility to 10 groups

Networking includes joining as many groups as possible because, like contacts, you never know where it can lead or who is using that group to prospect for job applicants or business opportunities. But its advisable to limit to 10 the number of groups visible on your profile. Otherwise you will look “piggish”.

In the settings screen, simple “uncheck” group logos to not show the group in your public profile. Also, don’t ever show that you belong to a job-seekers group because headhunters typically screen out job seekers. Join them, but keep them invisible. And join as many groups as you want.

Other Tips

[1] Create Tags to organize your contacts for easy future reference.

Such as “Recruiters”, “Who Viewed Me”, “”Top 25”, “One on One Meetings” “To Call”, etc. These help you manage your contacts for follow-up and where you know them from. These tags are not visible to the public.

[2] Connect with HR and Recruiters

They are the keys to job openings.

[3] Send an Invite to those who viewed you.

When someone views you, you are able to connect even if you don’t know them.

[4] Accept every invite you receive (with a few exceptions if it appears suspect).

When you click on the invite, you can always see who they know in your network. If they know others, you probably should know them too.

[5] Connect with the big connectors to get visibility into a bigger potential audience.

These “LIONs” will be restricted from inviting more than 3000 1st level connections, but they can accept connections that come to them.

[6] Endorsements are an opportunity to have a conversation

Spread them out though since each endorsement is “announced” in the timeline. And only do a single endorsement at a time, so that you have future opportunities to have a conversation with that person.

[7] Optimize the SEO potential of LinkedIn

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. You profile is searchable; so have ample relevant “key-words” in your Headline, Summary, Specialties, Position Titles, etc. You will come up in searches that way.

[8] If you are between jobs, be a consultant

Say that you “work with small to mid-sized firms on 6 month projects, etc.” Companies in transition, such as start-ups and M&A’s, may find it attractive to hire temporary people. Say “call for free consultation” to attract a conversation.

[9] Export your email lists into LinkedIn

People change jobs and email addresses; so its a good idea to import your contacts so that you don’t lose them in the future. LinkedIn doesn’t publish email addresses so you may not be able to find associates you knew in the past.

[10] Join project management groups

This may lead to short-term assignments

[11] Recommends paying for service because it lets you know who viewed you.