LinkedIn: How To Get Started


I see a lot of people who started a LinkedIn profile and after spending what looks like 5 minutes on it, apparently gave up. Of those I’ve actually asked about their undeveloped or underdeveloped profiles, the most common response I get is that they joined because somebody said they should, but they didn’t really know why so they never went any further.

Fair enough. To these people; (you perhaps?) I say that if and when you turn up in someone’s search, they will see this poor reflection of you and that then becomes their first impression. If they are an employer, recruiter or potential business partner, they may just believe that if this is you putting in your best effort, maybe you’re actually not worth theirs. After all, if you can’t be bothered to put in the bit of work to present yourself professionally on what is a professional networking platform, you’re hardly likely to put in the effort on the things that are of most importance to them; namely working with them in some capacity.

So here’s a few LinkedIn profile thoughts to get you going. First, add your picture and make it a clear head shot; preferably with a smile on your face and without any distracting background. How do you want to come across to a potential employer? You’re looking to create an image; an emotional connection with whomever looks at it.

Write a summary that tells people who you are, what motivates you, what you’re passionate about or believe. Unlike a résumé, yes go ahead and use the word, “I”, and use first-person language not 3rd person. After all, you want people to believe you wrote this, it wasn’t made by someone else.

When you move into the Employment History or Experience area, don’t just cut and paste your résumé. Whereas your résumé may have bullet points under each job, write in sentences. Consider sharing in each position what you learned, how you improved, what accomplishments you achieved and were proud of. If you’re one of those people who sees this as tooting your own horn, put down what others have said you do exceptionally well.

Start connecting! Begin with those you know such as past or present co-workers, supervisors, friends, customers, associates, peers etc. Now expand your network by searching for others who do similar work to what you do – even if you’ve never actually met. After all, you don’t want to limit yourself to only those you already know. You can learn a lot from reading and thinking about what others in your profession have to say.

As for people who work outside your profession, you may get invites to connect and I’d urge you to do so more often than not. If you limit yourself to only people you know and only people in your profession, you’ll develop a very narrow stream of contacts and by way of those contacts, a limited view of things. Who knows where your future opportunities exist?

Now when you add the endorsements to your profile, consider carefully what you’d like others to endorse you for. The things you choose should be consistent with the skills that are desired in your line of work. You may be good at using Microsoft Word, but is that something that will push your chances of working with others forward? Is that something unique that will impress others? In my case, I’m an Employment Counsellor, so I’ve elected to be endorsed primarily for traits associated with the profession. Helping others with “Job Search” skills is a key thing I do, so that’s what I’ve elected to have on my profile and it syncs with what I do.

Now, think about recommendations. Remember those letters of recommendation from years past that you might have received? They meant something once upon a time, and you’d show up at an interview with them as part of a portfolio; a testament to your abilities. The impact of these is still valuable, so you’d like to get some; I know I value them highly! So it stands to reason others value them too.

Okay, now add your education. Where did you go to school and what courses did you take? Add anything you may have authored or awards and certificates you hold. You’re building up your credentials.

Write a recommendation for a colleague who is on LinkedIn; someone you admire for their skills, support or positive impact on you. How did or do they help you? Taking the time to recommend someone is always appreciated, and they will likely thank you, perhaps even by writing you a recommendation in kind!

Now expand your connections by searching for people who may now work in the organizations you’d like to work at yourself one day. Communicate with them every so often and develop a professional relationship. Don’t connect and 2 minutes later ask for a job. Show some genuine interest in them, ask about what they do, how they got started, trends, insights etc.

This is just a thumbnail sketch of how to get going without delving into the many other features of LinkedIn. Still, if you have a weak profile, using the suggestions here will at the very least get you headed in the right direction. Another tip? Sure. Check out the profiles of others in your line of work and learn from the good ones. You’ll know the difference between the good and the poor ones – believe me.

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