Anja van den Berg
Next to Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn might not be the most impressive social media network; however, the professional value of this platform is virtually matchless.
What are the main features of the three major social media platforms? Facebook is focused on corporate or personal image and identity. Twitter deals with events and newsflashes. As a social media platform, LinkedIn is probably the most influential medium for career management, professional networking and personal branding.
Initially launched as a space for publishing and sharing CVs in the online environment, LinkedIn has rapidly changed to a user-friendly and adaptable platform emphasising personal branding management.
Especially job-hunters and potential candidates could benefit from a profile on LinkedIn. The platform boasts an extensive database which includes international networkers, recruitment agencies and employers. According to Business Insider, 77% of LinkedIn users asserted in a survey that the platform had directly contributed to their recent employment.
Although LinkedIn could play a valuable role in exposing you to job opportunities and professional development, as a user you would be competing with numerous profiles and candidates. How can you derive value from your presence on LinkedIn and position yourself as a leader? Opinion-makers offer the following hints:
- Ensure that your profile is complete
According to CIO.com, any successful profile on LinkedIn has to start with a few simple steps: load a professional profile photograph, choose a striking headline and include a summary of yourself (use at least 40 words), together with details of your experience and skills.
More inputs would be necessary for your profile to stand out, however. Include links of relevant websites (the home page of your current employer, for instance), and supplement your professional experience with facts about pro bono projects and non‑profit organisations that you support.
Every input to improve your profile will raise your profile status and improve your chance of discovery.
- Understand the basic principles of search engine optimisation (SEO)
Choose keywords related to your professional objectives. The more often these keywords appear in your profile, the greater your chance of discovery by the right role‑players – recruitment agencies, employers, colleagues etc. – thanks to the algorithms on which search engines are based.
Jörgen Sundberg, publishing via UndercoverRecruiter.com, says the effectiveness of the keywords in your profile will affect the interaction with other users; in turn this will shift the status of your profile progressively higher or lower on the ranking list of importance. The relevance of your profile content would therefore determine how often your details would come up on the search lists of other users who wish to contact a professional or expert in your field. If you are an attorney, for instance, you would choose various synonyms and applicable words to describe your career, field of experience and skills.
- Learn the art of online networking and virtual mingling
Invite acquaintances, colleagues and friends to be part of your network and then add value to the content of their profiles. Share interesting and valuable information about mutual interests and activities. However, discretion is called for if you wish to highlight your products or services – it’s a better idea to share and discuss information that would stimulate your network’s interest and encourage discourse.
- Build your reputation on ‘Groups’
Now take your networking a step further by enhancing your reputation in groups where experts with similar interests or professions form communities to discuss appropriate issues. That would improve your chances of being found by relevant role‑players – thus creating more opportunities for employment and professional growth.
Invest 15 minutes a day in your network and make it a habit of sharing an interesting blog or article, glancing through the events section, giving your opinion in a group, and keeping up with the buzz by visiting the home feed. In this way you’ll develop a steady routine which would contribute to the consistency of your online presence and which could also play a role in your professional reputation and career development.
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