LinkedIn How To
How to use LinkedIn networking for business
LinkedIn is a powerful social networking site that can help you build and maintain your professional network. This LinkedIn how to guide will show you how to set up your LinkedIn profile, build your network by finding connections and making contacts, find and join LinkedIn groups, and search for and find business and job opportunity leads.
LinkedIn is arguably the most professional and business-oriented of the popular social media sites, but it's not just for job seekers or for making connections. LinkedIn can help you get things done and be more productive! Check out the video below to see how.
LinkedIn can help you do business better - Watch this short video to find out how!
Make a great first impression with your LinkedIn Profile
Set up your LinkedIn Profile to represent you as professionally as possible
After you create your LinkedIn account, the first thing you need to focus on is completing your LinkedIn Profile. The profile completeness gauge on the right hand side of your LinkedIn Profile page shows you how far along in the process you are. In order for your LinkedIn Profile to be 100% complete, your profile needs:
- Current Position
- At least two previous positions
- Profile summary
- Profile photo
- At least three recommendations
Create Your Brand
Use your LinkedIn Profile to brand yourself
Your LinkedIn Profile is one of the best ways to create and project your personal brand. First, start with your photo.
1. Upload Your LinkedIn Profile PhotoYour LinkedIn Photo is the first thing any visitor's eye will be drawn to. Based on your photo, they will unconsciously and immediately form an impression of you. Above all, your photo should be professional. If you would like to display your personality in your photo, you may do so through your facial expression and pose - but keep the photo professional.
You don't need to go to a professional photographer for a photo. My wife took my photo (shown here) in our house with me standing in front of a beige wall next to a window (for better lighting). LinkedIn crops the photos to be square, so you may want to do the cropping on your own before uploading to get it just the way you want. The photo shown here is the actual size that it appears on LinkedIn, so I prefer to crop in close. If you don't crop in close enough, your face may be too small to be seen clearly.
Try standing with your body slanted so that one shoulder is nearer to the camera instead of facing the camera directly. Have your photographer snap lots of photos while you adjust and get into position. Have a conversation with your photographer while they snap photos. This will help you to appear more relaxed and less stiff and posed. Go through all the photos taken, discard the bad ones, and pick the one that you feel represents you best.
2. Create Your HeadlineAfter your photo, the next most important item in your personal LinkedIn brand is your headline. Your headline is what everyone will see next to your photo and your name when you show up in search results or connection suggestions. You want it to be brief, and to tell viewers what you do or what you want to do.
Keep it specific! Don't just say Mechanical Engineer or Consultant. Think business card. Your LinkedIn headline is the equivalent of a personal tagline you might use on your business card.
3. Fill In Your Summary and SpecialtiesYour Summary on LinkedIn should be very similar to the summary on your resume. It should be 5 to 10 bullets or statements (yes, you can use paragraph format if you prefer) highlighting your key capabilities. These should all be items that you cover in your personal 30 second introduction. It's what people read after your headline and before they move down to your experience.
Your Specialties should be specific skills that set you apart. This is where you can list certifications and credentials, as well as specific subject matter areas of expertise. Your Specialties must be filled out for your profile to be considered complete.
TIP - Listing Websites
Rather than using the generic "My Company" and "My Website" labels for your sites, select "Other:" and type in more descriptive labels. Linking websites from your profile helps with pagerank.
Your LinkedIn Profile is your online resume
Showcase your accomplishments and capabilities
After completing the sections above, it's time to add all of your work experience.
When adding your work experience to your profile, write position descriptions carefully to showcase your skills and accomplishments. Do not pattern your description after the examples that LinkedIn provides!
Don't just list your responsibilities. When people read your LinkedIn Profile, they don't just want to know what you were responsible for doing - they want to know what you actually did! Use the description box to show what impact you had in each of your positions.
Most people that view your LinkedIn Profile may never see your actual resume, so make sure that your LinkedIn Profile is just as good as your resume - if not better. You're not limited to two typed pages, so there's no reason to truncate important accomplishments. At the same time, no one wants to scroll through screen after screen after screen, so make sure you highlight your most important accomplishments for each position - not every accomplishment. A good rule of thumb is to pick the two or three most significant ones.
Once you've completed your work experience, you may choose to further personalize your profile by adding widgets called Applications. One that is definitely useful is the Events application - where you can publish events that you want to share with you connections. Other popular applications include Slideshare Presentations, Blog Links, and Reading Lists. Add whatever ones you think augment your profile, but don't add too many. LinkedIn is not Facebook.
Are you LinkedIn? - Please take this poll and let us know if you're LinkedIn.
How LinkedIn are you?
Build your network by sending connection requests
Start building your professional network on LinkedIn by connecting with people you know. LinkedIn gives you the option to use contacts from your online email accounts or from your desktop address books (Outlook, Apple Mail, etc.). Go ahead and send out requests!
As people start accepting your connection requests, you can then look at their contacts to find even more people with whom to connect. Think beyond fellow employees. Connecting with vendors and customers that you have a good relationship with is a great way to expand your network. You should also consider connecting with senior leaders in your own company that you have met in person. These are often great sources for getting introductions to people outside of your normal network.
In order to connect with someone on LinkedIn, you need to establish one of the following relationships:
- Colleague - you worked together in a previous position listed in your work experience
- Classmate - you went to school together at a school listed in your education
- We've done business together - you've done business while in a previous position listed in your work experience
- Friend - you need to know the person's email address to establish the connection
- Groups & Associations - you are members of the same LinkedIn Group (see next section)
When you send a LinkedIn invitation, LinkedIn will send a connection request to the person specifying in what capacity you know them. The person will then either accept or reject the connection request.
Interested in learning more? Check out this seminar on How to Network the Easy Way on LinkedIn available on
Keep your Status up to date
Use LinkedIn status updates to let your network know what's going on
LinkedIn now lets you sync your status updates with Twitter!
How does it work? Easy. When you set your status on LinkedIn you can have LinkedIn automatically publish your status update as a tweet from your Twitter account. Or, when you tweet from any Twitter service or tool, you can send that message to your LinkedIn connections as well.
How to set it up on LinkedInLinking your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account is as simple as checking the Twitter box under your network updates box on your LinkedIn Home page.
The first time you check the box, you will be taken through a setup process to link the accounts and then you're all set!
Once you've linked your accounts, you can also set up your LinkedIn profile to display your Twitter account. On your profile settings page, simply check the Yes radio button to display your Twitter account.
How to set it up on TwitterYou can choose to either have all of your tweets automatically update your status on LinkedIn, or just select tweets. Unless you know for a fact that 100% of your tweets will be professional and relevant to your LinkedIn network, I would advise against having all tweets automatically update your LinkedIn status. Here's what the settings box looks like.
I would recommend selecting the option to only share tweets with #in (as shown). Then when you post a tweet from any Twitter service, simply end the tweet with a #in or #li hashtag. LinkedIn will pick up your tweet and automatically update your status with it.
Ask for recommendations
This is the last step to completing your profile
You don't need to get recommendations from everyone you know. First, target the positions that you want recommendations for as LinkedIn Recommendations are specific to your work experience entries. Make sure you get recommendations across the entire span of your work experience - you definitely need recent recommendations, but you should also get recommendations going all the way back to the beginning of your work experience. This can help to show that you have performed consistently throughout your career. Ask for one or two recommendations for your most recent position, one or two for a position in the middle of your work experience, and one or two from the beginning of your work experience. You need three to complete your profile, and probably don't need any more than seven.
Join Groups - Groups are a fantastic way to expand your network
LinkedIn has over 375,000 groups - and that number is growing every day! So how do you find the right ones? Here are my tips for finding relevant groups that will help you find meaningful connections.
1. Join Alumni Groups
From the Groups page, click the Find a Group button and enter your Alma Mater in the search box. Most Universities and Colleges have alumni groups that you can choose to join. They may also have special interest or organizational (fraternities, clubs, etc) groups that you can join as well. This is a great way to leverage your alumni status to ask others for introductions to their connections. Most alumni will be happy to help out!
Military service counts too! If you have prior military service, join the groups for your branch of service, as well as for any units that you served with.
2. Join Professional Association Groups
Most professional associations have at least one LinkedIn group. Many have separate groups for their major chapters as well. Go ahead and join the groups for any associations that you are affiliated with.
3. Join Your Company's Group
More and more companies are creating their own LinkedIn groups. Go ahead and join! If you want, you can also join the groups of customer or supplier companies. If you are a job seeker, join the groups of any companies that you are targeting.
4. Join Groups that Relate to Your Profession
If you're a consultant, join some consulting groups. If you're a manager, join management groups. Find and join any groups that are related to your profession or field of interest.
5. Look at Your Connections for Group Ideas
See what groups your LinkedIn Connections belong to. If any of them are interesting and relevant, go ahead and join! Your connections are a great way to find out about groups.
6. Create Your Own Group!
If you can't find a group you're looking for, go ahead and create one! Once you create the group, send invitations to all of your contacts who might be interested, and then start posting some discussions to build momentum and attract others to the group.
So what do I do with all these groups?
Now that you've joined some groups, make sure that you participate. Monitor the discussions and join the ones that interest you. If you're looking for job opportunities, monitor the Jobs section in your groups - sometimes companies will post jobs on LinkedIn before they post them publicly.
You should also start discussions that others might be interested in. You can start discussions about blog posts that you or others have written. You can start discussions about hot topics in your field. You can ask questions or solicit advice. Just make sure that you keep your posts professional and don't spam your groups with blatant self-promotion.
What's the benefit of participating in discussions? First, you increase your own knowledge by following and participating in meaningful discussions. Second, meaningful and helpful participation will get you noticed by recruiters and potential hiring managers. This can lead to more network connections for you, and possibly even some opportunities!
What if you don't find any of the discussions interesting or relevant? Then either leave the group, or simply ignore the discussions from that group. Your time is valuable, so spend it in areas that are relevant and meaningful to you.
A good way to keep up with groups is through the group digest email, but make sure you set the right frequency for your digests. Go to Accounts and Settings and then click on Receiving Messages under the Email Notifications section. Here you can set your group digest updates to be sent daily, weekly, or not at all. Just keep in mind that weekly digests for busy groups will not show all of the activity in the group.
Network and accomplish your goals
Now that you've established your brand and built your network, use it!
1. Find PeopleClick on People on the top of the page and use LinkedIn to target contacts and leads. You can search by company name, keyword, location, industry, and other criteria. When LinkedIn provides the results, it will first show you any people in your network, and then any people who are a connection away (2nd level connections). For 2nd level connections, LinkedIn will tell you who the mutual connection is so that you can request an introduction.
2. Find and Post JobsNot only does LinkedIn provide exclusive access to job listings that can only be found on LinkedIn Jobs - it also connects to major external job search engines so that you can use LinkedIn to find almost any job that is available. As with finding people, LinkedIn will show you any connections you have at companies with jobs posted. If you don't have any direct connections, LinkedIn will show you how you can establish a connection through your network.
3. Research CompaniesWhether you are targeting a company for a job, looking to make a sale, or finding a supplier, you should check LinkedIn Company information. If the company has a profile, you can find information about the company and its products, business divisions, related companies, company statistics, and a news and stock ticker feed. Additionally, LinkedIn will highlight your connections at the company and will provide information about recent hires and organizational changes.
Tips for job seekers...
LinkedIn can be the best tool in your job search!
If you are currently out of work and seeking a new position, you should make sure that you indicate that in your profile.
First, put an end date to your current position. Nothing turns off a recruiter or hiring manager faster than thinking you were misleading them. Don't make up fictional employment if you're not working. Just leave your last position as your Current Position, but make sure you put in the end date.
Second, you may use your headline or status to indicate that your are open to new opportunities, looking for new opportunities, seeking new challenges, or whatever phrase you would like to use. Just make sure you don't sound desperate. You may want to run your proposed headline or status past some colleagues to see what reaction it elicits from them.
Third, if you are seeking opportunities it is more important than ever to participate in groups! See comments above about how participation can get you noticed.
Finally, use LinkedIn as one of your job search engines! Even if you find interesting job postings on other websites, try to locate that same posting on LinkedIn. By doing so, you can use use your LinkedIn network to try to find a connection to that company.
Need more information? - Check out these books!
If LinkedIn has helped you accomplish your goals, please share your success with us! Did you find a job? Close a deal thanks to a LinkedIn contact? Promote an initiative? You story may just be the inspiration someone else needs to be successful with their goals too.
Has LinkedIn not worked for you? Why not? Share your frustrations and disappointments too.
Or just say Hi! We'd love to hear from you.