Last Updated: October 26, 2015 131

How to used LinkedIn and make your name known

Found In: Social Networks

It might be the place to promote your business, publicize your career and consolidate your professional network, but when it comes to usability, LinkedIn is about as helpful as a raincoat in the Sahara. Type ‘LinkedIn how to’ into Google and you’ll get a glimpse of the veritable feast of questions the search engine fields daily. From how to add a logo to a company page to how to endorse connections, it seems that, at one point or another, we’ve all had to search outside LinkedIn to discover how to use it.

Designed to help the professional world connect, LinkedIn has come a long way since the days when it was cheerfully described as the professional Facebook. You’ll still hear that explanation bouncing around the office, but it’s far from true. LinkedIn has grown up. It has its very own search engine (a bit like Google, but it only returns results from LinkedIn). This means that, if you want customers to find your company, potential connections to find your profile or job seekers to find your advert, you’ll need to do more than post it, you’ll need to optimize it — and that’s where mastering LinkedIn comes into play. Follow these five ultimate tips and you’ll be playing in the LinkedIn major leagues in no time.

Your LinkedIn visibility is key

If you’re going to conquer LinkedIn, the first thing you need to know is where you rank, which means a) turning ranking on and b) working out where to find it.

How to turn on ranking on your profile

From any page on LinkedIn, simply hover your cursor over your profile picture in the top right-hand corner of the header bar (pictured above). This reveals the accounts and settings menu. Click on ‘Privacy & Settings’ to enter the account settings page. On the profile tab (see image below), you can turn the ranking analysis on and off.

Since it takes time to gather data, you won’t be able to see where you rank the moment you turn the setting on. Give it a few days though and you’ll soon be able to see how visible you are compared to your colleagues and connections.

So where do I rank on LinkedIn?

It’s not so difficult to track this metric down, in fact, you’ve probably stumbled across it more than once. Click on the profile menu (on the left-hand side of your header bar), select ‘who’s viewed your profile’ and then navigate along to the ‘How you rank for profile views’ tab on the right-hand side of the page.

Already up there in the top 20% of views? Fantastic! But if your company or personal profile has slipped much lower, then it’s time to optimize your page and make it just that bit more visible.

When it comes to LinkedIn, think SEO

Don’t let the phrase search engine optimization (SEO) put you off. Increasing the visibility of your LinkedIn page really isn’t all that difficult. SEO is just a way to alert search engines (in this case LinkedIn) that your page would be useful to someone searching for a specific phrase. Here’s how you go about it:

Check your public profile is turned on

Yes, it sounds obvious, but you wouldn’t be the first person to invest effort increasing your visibility only to find your profile isn’t actually visible. From the same settings menu we accessed before (by scrolling over your name in the header bar), click ‘Edit your public profile’ and from there tick the box next to ‘Make my public profile visible to everyone.’ Voila! Now that you can be seen let’s get cracking on making you discoverable.

Use standard job titles

Steer clear of fun, whimsical descriptions or multiple titles. No one is searching for a ‘writer/editor,’ lots of people are searching for ‘writers’ and ‘editors’. If an old boss gifted you with a rather ambiguous title (kudos to the boss who called me a ‘research associate’ because ‘reporter’ sounded “too Daily Planet”), now’s the time to ditch it. Change it to a title that’s easier to recognize and more frequently searched.

Keywords are, well, key

Consider the words you use in your description, experiences, special projects and volunteer history. Include buzzwords (the phrases people would use to find you or people with skills like yours) such as ‘project leader,’ ‘product development,’ or ‘sales operations.’ If you’ve got awards, list them — just make sure you include the abbreviations if that’s how others in the industry would recognize them.

Collect endorsements

The jury’s still out on whether endorsements help LinkedIn rankings. There is every possibility they’ll become more important in the future, so it doesn’t hurt to start collecting them now. Ask a few people in the office to endorse you and don’t be afraid to endorse connections in your wider network so they endorse you back.

Publish to Pulse

The more content you put up on LinkedIn, the more opportunities you have to convince the search engine that you’re worth looking at. Publishing to Pulse is also a great way of displaying mastery of your industry and getting your name out in front of people who might not otherwise take notice.

Don’t be afraid to post articles to LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn’s in-house blog, Pulse is a live stream of posts by LinkedIn users. All users can read, like and comment on every post there, and authors can add three tags to their posts to help people discover them more easily.

Pulse features quality articles from LinkedIn Influencers and industry leaders. If you want to make an impact, you need to publish original, insightful and valuable content that can hold its own alongside these top quality articles. In other words, don’t publish a post purely for the sake of it. Not only do you run the risk of looking like an amateur (potentially in front of the whole LinkedIn community), but an article no one reads, likes or comments on is useless when it comes to visibility.

Similarly, poorly written posts with grammar and spelling errors should be avoided at all costs. Remember, any article you publish to Pulse must showcase your work, highlight your professionalism and increase your visibility. If you’re not proud to have your name out there alongside that article, then don’t hit ‘publish’.

Invest time in your network

If spending hours carefully crafting newsworthy articles isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty of ways to make an impact on LinkedIn. I hate to draw comparisons between the two, but LinkedIn does let you share, like and comment on posts in much the same way you would on Facebook.

Keep your eye on Pulse (even if you aren’t posting to it) and don’t be shy about sharing relevant articles with your network. Just don’t go overboard – LinkedIn’s not the social media channel of choice for procrastinators, and no one wants to wade through pages of your shares. Pick one or two posts a week and share them alongside one sentence (and I do mean one) explaining why you found it helpful, or why that content is relevant to your network. Better yet, find an article on a divisive topic and ask a question. Conversations are a great way to reconnect with old contacts and can provide sharp feedback and useful insights relevant to your industry.

Understand LinkedIn etiquette

This is a biggy. You can optimize profiles, craft articles worthy of Forbes and collect endorsements from every corner of your industry, but all it takes is one poorly thought out kitten meme to bring your LinkedIn reputation crashing down around your ears.

Remember, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. What flies on Facebook tanks on LinkedIn, so it’s important to play by the rules:

  • Be professional. LinkedIn is a professional forum, so every communication should be professional. Don’t sign your name with an x after it, go easy on the smileys, always spell check and for goodness sake don’t use a photo from a drunken night out as your profile picture.
  • Don’t add people you don’t know. I don’t care how approachable, polite or attractive they look, if you haven’t shaken hands or exchanged business cards in the real world, you’ve no place adding them on LinkedIn.
  • Only share useful content. So that’s a no to those cat memes (you know who you are). LinkedIn is a productive forum, share useful content your connections have a genuine, professional interest in.
  • Make messages count. The majority of us haven’t bothered with Premium accounts; we don’t have access to unlimited space on InMail – so don’t spam us. If you are sending messages through LinkedIn, make sure they’re useful and to the point.

So there you have it. Five steps, some important rules, and a few handy how-tos later and you’ve no excuse for not mastering LinkedIn.