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At work with LinkedIn

20 May 2019

It’s the most used social network in the world of business, where anyone looking for a job can showcase their talent, and which companies can use to find the best candidates. For anyone active on the job market, LinkedIn is now an essential service, and it’s important to know its best practices to fulfil all its potential. Even though it seemingly looks like Facebook (especially after its latest update), there are essential rules to follow to build a good reputation. Here are some tips.

First impressions count

First of all, decide which language you want to use this social network in: if you’re looking to grow professionally, you should adopt an international approach. Firstly, be careful with your headline: even though it’s automatically completed by LinkedIn with your most recent professional role, in reality, it’s a description that should be personalised like a real digital business card. Your name is always linked with this short description (no more than 120 characters) for any searches on this social network: your headline shouldn’t describe your current position, but rather contain relevant details for people who want to hire or work with you. Pay attention to the tone too: for certain positions, a creative approach – changing the formula from a headline to a slogan – can be the winning move to get yourself noticed. Similarly, your profile photo should be recent and professional (not like the selfie you use on Facebook), but don’t go for a passport-style photo. 


Complete your profile

You then need to spend the right amount of time completing your profile by adding information on your professional experiences and relevant education. It’s always best to add a short text for each job describing the responsibilities of the role and the skills acquired during your employment. Pay particular attention to your location too: if you set up email notifications, LinkedIn will send you job offers that might interest you depending on your personal skills and where you live. If you don’t add a location, you’ll be at a disadvantage in search results. Don’t ignore the “Skills and experience” field because your contacts will be able to check your skills with just a click of a button. Another tip is to change the personalised URL of your profile under the settings: this is your link to share online, enter onto a CV or even add to a business card so you can officially present yourself at each new meeting.


The etiquette of contacts

Once your profile is completed and updated, you now have to deal with your digital contact list. A good rule to follow is to add people you’ve met in real life or spoken to online (via email or through other messaging channels). Try to build contacts with people who already have a good reputation on LinkedIn, so they can act as go-betweens to other useful people for your career. If you want to add someone on LinkedIn because you think you could forge a mutually beneficial collaboration, make sure you send a presentation through the internal messaging system explaining who you are. However, remember that to send the first message you need to have at least one shared contact, otherwise you need to use the InMail feature (only for paid accounts). 


Look after your interests and recommendations

Social skills are also a key aspect in business planning on LinkedIn. Just look for interests relative to your professional role and begin following the discussions that develop among the most active groups. Choose the virtual meeting places you join with care and chat using a similar approach as you would at an organised business lunch to build new professional relationships. When you decide to join a community, you can choose whether you want to receive notifications via email (and how often). Don’t overdo it: the maximum number of groups you can follow on LinkedIn is 50, but don’t hoard interests which don’t really represent you.


Personality: yes, but be professional

You can go out on a limb with a creative approach to stand out, but remember to be professional. Always reread what you’ve written (look out for any typos) and use clear, direct language: convoluted sentences or weird formatting all in capitals will just cast you in a bad light. Don’t share personal pictures – no holidays by the sea or evenings out drinking beer with your friends – and forget about dubious links: all the content you publish on LinkedIn must help build your professional reputation and present your approach to work. So be careful with any comments: only use them constructively to broaden a discussion or to congratulate one of your contacts on their new job.

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