Leveraging the power of LinkedIn in this job-seeker’s market is a no-brainer. Here are some tips and tricks from a former-corporate-CEO-turned-career-coach to optimize your LinkedIn profile authentically, grow your network, and catapult your career.
Did you know that LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network? Executives from every Fortune 500 company—along with over 830 million other members—have profiles and are engaging daily. Said another way: LinkedIn is a 24x7x365 mega work conference.
What does this mean? Anyone NOT using LinkedIn to establish a presence and build meaningful connections—especially in this job seeker’s market—is making the biggest mistake (HUGE) since the department store clerk on Rodeo Drive refused to help Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
But I gotta be honest: if I see one more boring LinkedIn post that starts with “I am so honored…” or “I’m thankful to work for a company that..” I’m going to lose.my.sh!t. In fact, here is actual footage of me reading these types of posts.
Don’t get me wrong: I love LinkedIn. Between you and me, it’s my favorite social media platform—and not only because of its lead generation potential. And a little secret?
Done well, LinkedIn is the fastest way to create powerful connections, build immediate trust, and make people WANT to work with you.
So if you want to grow your network, reignite your career spark, or are in the market for a new job and don’t know the first thing about showing up authentically in this previously “only-act-professional-at-all-times” platform, don’t worry—I got you. Here are 6 ways to leverage LinkedIn to level up your career, build meaningful connections, and make people WANT to learn more about and work with you.
6 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Don’t wait until you need a new job to make a LinkedIn profile. Instead of using LinkedIn reactively and hoping you make the right connection or find the right open role at a moment’s notice or when SHTF at work, make a profile (if you haven’t already) and start building your network now. You never know when those connections could come in handy later.
Ditch the business buzzword BS and tell a compelling story instead. Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte, Inc., the largest communications firm in Silicon Valley says, “Data doesn’t speak for itself. It needs a good storyteller.” Scratch whatever your recruiting friend told you about which buzzwords will “get you through the HR system” and decide instead to start sounding like an actual human being. Pro tip: Ditch cringy words and phrases like, “proven results,” “demonstrated track record,” or “matrixed leader” and opt for a short story that demonstrates your passion for what you do, and in the first person. I not only use storytelling in the About section of my LinkedIn profile but for every one of my Experience summaries (even for my Board position).
Leverage the most valuable real estate on your profile: Your LinkedIn headline. One of the most powerful things about LinkedIn is that your network continually exposes their network to you. Unlike other social media platforms, when you respond to a post, people don't just see your name—they see the first 30-40 characters of your Headline (the section at the top of a user’s profile where they describe what they do in 220 characters or less). If your Headline reads "VP of Project Management", well, we can all easily infer that you're wearing a navy suit in a room full of navy suits and are about as interesting as watching paint dry. If instead it reads, "Lover of fractals, cornflakes, and applying them to the “impossible” corporate problems" then you're definitely going to get people saying, "Hmm, I need to find out more about this person."
Engage thoughtfully. This is probably the most overlooked and underrated way to use LinkedIn strategically. So many people think that in order to grow your network you have to post and share often, and if you don't have the time to do that, then sitting back and lurking is the next best option. Wrong! Engaging and commenting on other people's posts can be just as effective for growth and connection within the LinkedIn community. But you have to comment uniquely and with substance (and humor always helps, too). For example, when a good friend of mine got the Chief Information Officer (CIO) job at a major elevator manufacturer, there were hundreds of comments that looked something like this, "Congrats!" or "Congratulations, they're so lucky to have you!" Instead of simply responding in the heat of the moment or with everyone else’s go-to (“Congrats!”), take the time to comment in a more substantive or unusual way that helps you stand out—not blend in with the rest of the noise. In the example of my friend getting the CIO position, I quickly reflected on what always perplexed me about elevators and responded, "Congratulations! Can I put in a request to find a way to add an 'undo button' to elevators?" Just a simple comment like that not only adds a little more fun into the person's day, it stops the scroll of others and sometimes has them clicking on your profile to learn more. More profile views can equal more leads!
Post things. Before you freak out, posting on LinkedIn doesn’t mean sharing your deepest, most vulnerable thoughts for all to see. No—it can be as easy as reposting something that resonates with you or an inspirational quote. And to be honest, opting for inspirational content over business/industry content tends to receive higher engagement anyway. So if Adam Karpiak or Adam Grant post something that tickles your fancy—which they tend to do magically and effortlessly, most of the time before my coffee even kicks in—share, share, share! You’ll be amazed by who will see your content and resonate with it.
Don’t use LinkedIn to impress—use it to connect. Remember those LinkedIn posts I referenced earlier that make me look like I just ate a dozen of those warhead candies all at once? There is certainly a time and place to share exciting work news like a promotion or taking a new opportunity with a badass new company, but don’t let that be where your engagement stops on this platform. Whether you are an executive-level leader or a stay-at-home mom ready to jump back into the workforce after taking a few years off to change diapers, you have the power to make a positive impact, influence others, and create lasting change, both on and off LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to tap into that.
You Can Become the Valedictorian of LinkedIn
Making the most out of LinkedIn may not happen for you overnight. But employing even one of these 6 tips can get you off on the right start!
Podcast junkie? Listen to this podcast episode for even more actionable tips for making the most out of your LinkedIn!
For more networking strategies and tips to land your dream job, take my FREE course, Unst*ck Yourself.
And lastly, don’t forget to follow me on LinkedIn for more inspiration (and give me your two cents every once in a while). See you there!