(Photo: Nan Palmero/Flickr)
By Amanda Wormann
Boasting over 500 million members across the globe, the world’s largest professional network is right at your fingertips. LinkedIn has been proven to reduce job search time, build results-driven connections and is the most powerful personal branding tool as you advance in your career.
According to the 2015 McKinsey Global Institute Report, LinkedIn facilitated 1 million hires in 2014, and those hired through online talent platforms like LinkedIn were eight times more likely to be in their role for two years longer than traditional hires. The data and tools are in your favor, and with continuous updates to the platform, LinkedIn is always upping their game as a leading co-pilot on your journey.
Are you using LinkedIn to its fullest potential? These five small tweaks pack a big punch and take 10 minutes or less to complete.
1. Stay in Touch
LinkedIn makes it easy to remain in touch with past colleagues and connections through a number of tools. But one of the most powerful and lesser-known unsung heroes is a simple .csv export of your contacts. The download file includes contact names, company/title, and email, allowing you to stay in touch when it matters most. Interested in a particular company and looking for an inside connection? Sort your contact file by company to see who might work there, and drop them an email. Sure, sending messages through LinkedIn is great, but sometimes they can get lost in the shuffle. By using the contact’s email address found in the .csv, you can reach out directly, the good old-fashioned way.
To download your contacts, go to your connections settings here. Once you’re there, you’ll see “Export LinkedIn Connections” under advanced settings.
2. Ask for a Recommendation
In a digital age, where reviews and recommendations reign supreme, it’s important to remember that our personal brands are no different. Recommendations from colleagues, managers, and clients give future employers the opportunity to gain valuable insights into your approach and work performance from people they trust. The recommendations will live on your profile and the profile of those recommending you, offering powerful “sound bites” that can benefit your career for years to come.
You can ask for recommendations via your profile settings. To get there, hover over your profile image in the upper-right-hand corner of the page and click “Privacy & Settings” from the drop-down menu. From there, you’ll see “Manage your recommendations” under “Helpful Links.” For a quick and easy way to get there, use this link.
3. Create a Profile URL
When you create your LinkedIn profile, you’re assigned a generic URL. LinkedIn allows you to update this URL to enhance your personal brand by creating a custom URL for your LinkedIn public profile. You can use this clean, branded, vanity URL in your email signature, resume, and website.
To update, go to your public profile via “Privacy & Settings” and click “Edit your public profile,” where you’ll see your public profile URL.
4. Update Your Photo
Your LinkedIn profile picture and headline are often the first things potential employers see when performing a quick Google search on your name (we guarantee they do that). Profiles with photos get fourteen times more views, and LinkedIn felt so strongly about the importance of a professional-looking photo and a compelling headline that they set out on a cross-country road trip to give job seekers a profile makeover. The Picture Opportunity Tour gave event attendees free profile makeovers, complete with professional photos and advice on how to polish up their headline and LinkedIn footprint.
5. Give Back and Stay Inspired
Sprucing up your profile is key, but it’s important to give back, too. Engage with your network, endorse skills, provide recommendations, join groups, read published content, and create your own content. Not only is this an excellent way to keep in touch, it’s also a wonderful way to stay inspired.
Amanda Wormann is a freelance writer and digital marketing consultant. Coming off a decade of working for Burton Snowboards, she enjoys working with brands that she admires and projects that inspire, with a client roster spanning energy, environmental non-profit, and small business. Amanda is also a contributing writer for the Huffington Post.