With all the various social media platforms out there, it’s easy to understand if you missed the boat on LinkedIn. Once upon a time, it looked like just another profile to sign up for, but over time it has established itself as a powerhouse for networking and career advancement.
Several of my clients lately have been telling me they don’t have LinkedIn profiles but feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start in creating one. Just like any other social medium, there are learning curves, new language specific to the site and a few steps required to set up your own account. It’s no wonder they’re feeling overwhelmed!
One of them is a recent college grad who’s just starting out with her career. Another is in his 30s, and another in her 40s, both saying they know they should’ve signed up 10 years ago.
It can be easy to blame yourself for not getting started earlier, but I promise that won’t make the process any smoother or more fun. Getting started now is the best thing you can do for yourself and the future of your career.
Speaking of your career, if you’ve been thinking about making a change or pursuing something different, take this short quiz to identify your meaningful work style. It’ll help you customize your LinkedIn profile to a more detailed extent in order to gain more traction in pursuit of your new job.
As far as initially creating your own LinkedIn profile, begin with these 3 tips that encourage jumping in, getting set up quickly and connecting with everyone in your circle.
1. Sign up for LinkedIn, upload a profile picture and personalize your link.
We’re starting simple here… Sign up for LinkedIn! Go figure that’s step number 1. But don’t just register your name and email address and then walk away. When you set up your profile, the first things you want to do are upload a professional profile picture and customize your link.
Starting with the picture, a professional photo doesn’t mean a three-piece suit or sitting behind a big desk in a corner office. You just want a photo of you smiling and wearing a simple, but nice, shirt in natural lighting with a plain background. Your smile gives off a warm first impression and leads people to instantly feel more connected to you.
A lot of people don’t know the mega-SEO-boosting secret of personalizing your link. In your account settings, there’s an option to change it from a bunch of random letters and numbers to your name and ideal position. Separate each word with dashes for SEO purposes. Here’s an example: linkedin.com/john-smith-project-manager.
2. Use your resume to fill out your experience.
Whether you have 2 months or 20 years of experience, you want to fill in everything in the appropriate sections on your profile. College degrees, graduate programs, extra certifications or training, and of course work experience all need to be filled in, but don’t let the sheer volume (or lack of it!) make your eyes cross and brain frazzle.
Take it one by one, and use your resume bullet points to supplement the descriptions. There’s this (somewhat uppity, if you ask me) school of thought that says your LinkedIn should be the perfect complement to your resume, not a duplicate.
Over time, building it out and enhancing your profile can become a goal of yours. But for just getting started, it’s perfectly okay to think of your LinkedIn as a digital version of your resume. Copy and paste away, for now. Make it simple to start.
3. Connect with everyone you know, or might know!
After your profile is all set up, start connecting with all of your family, friends and past and present coworkers. You can hook up your phone number and email address to your profile to find even more connections.
LinkedIn also has a pretty cool algorithm in place that generates connections you may know, or connections of your connections who might be good to link up with… Be bold and send them an invite to connect to really build out the full extent of your professional network.
Bonus: Continue strengthening your LinkedIn profile over time with these additional tips…
Once your LinkedIn is fully ready to go and you’ve connected with people in your network, the work isn’t finished. There’s plenty you can continue doing to enhance and strengthen your profile, in order to position yourself for your dream role.
Check out my article on more advanced tips for boosting your LinkedIn profile. This networking platform is one of the few tools you have control over in your job search, so getting set up and continuing to improve it from there is so, so important.
You are on your way to maintaining an impactful online presence to network, find new career opportunities and potentially help or mentor others in your professional circle along the way.