LinkedIn can be a terrific place to build your brand, expand your network, attract new clients, and find job opportunities.
But use it the wrong way and you could turn off professional contacts - or even lose out on your dream job.
We spoke with LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele about the most common (and most egregious) mistakes she sees on the platform, as well as what you can do to avoid them. Read on, and get ready to make some potentially serious changes to your profile.
This is "prime real estate," Decembrele said.
It's the first thing other members see besides your photo. You can use these 120 words either to list your current title (e.g. "senior reporter at Business Insider") or to describe your job more generally (e.g. "reporter covering career development and entrepreneurship").
According to LinkedIn data, profiles with photos receive up to 21 times more views than profiles without photos, plus nine times more connection requests.
That's not to say that any photo will do - it's important to choose one that's visually appealing, Decembrele said. Think a solid-colour background without distractions like a friend's arm dangling off the edge. Your face should fill up roughly 60% of the frame.
A summary "describes who you are as a professional," Decembrele said. It's your elevator pitch, or your chance to "spark a potential employer's interest in 20 seconds".
That's why you should include your experience, skills, and interests. Most importantly, "don't be afraid to have your personality shine through." LinkedIn says summaries of at least 40 words are more likely to turn up in search results.
Once you do, you can include your LinkedIn URL on your résumé without worrying about it looking clunky, Decembrele said. It also makes it easier for you to be found by recruiters.
Decembrele recommends thinking carefully about your privacy settings (for example, whether you want your entire network to find out that you've switched jobs).
You should also know whether other members can see when you've looked at their profile, and vice versa. Decembrele said there are benefits to having people know you checked out their profile, since they might see an opportunity to work together.
If you subscribe to LinkedIn Premium, you're able to tweak the settings so that you can see when other people view your profile, but they can't see when you've viewed theirs.
Enabling the "open candidates" feature on your profile dashboard is a way to privately signal that you're open to job opportunities. LinkedIn found that members who enable this feature are twice as likely to see relevant opportunities.
Fortunately, this is not listed publicly on your profile - and luckily for you, recruiters from your particular organisation aren't able to see this.
You can use relevant hashtags to a) customise your feed so that you see the content that's most interesting to you, and b) to make sure your posts wind up in front of the right people (just like on other social media platforms). For example, if you're writing about leadership, you might tag "#leadership."
Once you've started writing a post on LinkedIn, you'll see recommended hashtags to choose from.
When you join LinkedIn groups for professionals in your field, "it enables you to talk to each other about trends in your industry," Decembrele said. Plus, it's a great way to solicit career advice or opinions.
The first rule of messaging another LinkedIn member is to make sure you've looked at their profile, so you can refer to something about their career that resonated with you. Explain why you're reaching out and why they should connect with you, Decembrele added.
That said, if you're job hunting, don't message someone asking directly for a job. Instead, you might write something like, "Hi, I noticed you work for [X organisation] and I'm really interested in learning more about that company. Would you be willing to talk to me?"
Jillian D'Onfro contributed to an earlier version of this post.
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