I remember back in college during my second year when the business school required that we all create LinkedIn accounts, add a professional photo, and start building our online resumes. And for the longest time, that’s all I thought it was – an online resume. It was the detailed version of the paper document provided to potential employers. It was also where you went along adding friends (like Facebook) and professionals you met through internships and networking events.
Fast forward two more years to senior year, where I went on a school trip to visit LinkedIn, Adobe, and a few other Silicon Valley companies, where the speaker talked about the importance of being active on LinkedIn (outside of updating your resume and adding friends). At that point, I still wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I religiously updated my profile with big projects and work experience, but never shared an article, updated a status, or wrote an article. Particularly since I didn’t know what to share or what to write.
Now I am a year out of college (and might I mention employed), and have written 2 articles, shared a few more articles, and expanded my professional network. Checking my LinkedIn is on my morning To Do list, similar to checking my other social media accounts.
A common misconception: I only need to update my LinkedIn if I am looking for a job
Your LinkedIn is a constantly evolving curation of your professional life. It’s a place that can track your and your company’s achievements (outside of your daily task). So if you’re updating your profile a week before you quit your old job, sorry but it’s a little late. But I will say updating it, even if it’s late, is of course better than nothing.
Update your photo & background
I’m throwing this one in as the first and foremost task to do because it is something that people often forget.
Profile Picture: Your photo is the first thing everyone looks at. It should be well-lit and professional. Hire a photographer to take a headshot, or if that isn’t an option, find a friend with a nice camera to do the trick. (A poorly lit blurry photo doesn’t exactly say “professional.”)
Background: I think this feature was added in the last year or so. While you don’t have to change it from the generic one, I do think it can elevate your profile and bring some personality to it. LinkedIn has a few you can choose from, or I love the free headers from this site. For example, I picked a background of an array of colored pencils since it was bright and represents my creative marketing side.
Use your feed to your advantage (alt title: Re-tweet!)
As my network grows, my home feed grows with it. Seeing what people are posting is not only a great way to stay up to date with what’s happening, but it is easily accessible content that you can use to build your own profile.
For example, recently a VP at my company shared an article by Ariana Huffington that I found particularly interesting. I shared the article (and mentioned him in my re-post) and you can imagine the entire ordeal took less than 3 minutes.
Promote your school or company
Also on the note of sharing articles, you should be proud of where you work and where you go to school. Adobe recently did a major renovation to HQ with a cool video to go along with it. That’s so shareable! I follow USD on LinkedIn too which gives me access to their content.
Post about the little things
Serving lunch at the Soup Kitchen with your team? Snap a quick pic and post it to your status. Traveling for work? Share a cool photo of the city or of your office. Your network likes to see what you’re up to.
Make your one-time contacts part of your network
In the past few months, I’ve been traveling quite a bit for work. Between plane conversations and casual chats with the people I’m sitting next to, I’ve engaged in some great discussions. When you walk away, make sure that you have their full name, that way in the 1-3 days after your meeting, you can add them on LinkedIn. You never know when you might be in their city or you might need their expertise. You suddenly made a one-time contact into a full-time one.
(Note: I’ve also done this with inspirational speakers that I would love to learn more from. People love coffee, an adding that into your “add me as a friend” message tends to get you a good response. )
For example: I attended Event X where you spoke, and thought you were very inspiring. Next time I am in the area, I would love to take you for coffee to learn more about Y.”
Update as you go
Let’s imagine a scenario where you’ve been at a job for two years, and are now deciding to look for a career change. Up until now you’ve ignored LinkedIn, so it’s time to add 2 years worth of updates. You’ll probably spend quite a few hours trying to remember your accomplishments (and you’ll still probably forget a few). If you update as you go, you make this a quick 5 minute task, where things don’t fall through the cracks. This also can apply to college students: add your leadership roles, projects, and internship details as you go to avoid missing out!
And lastly, if you have more than 5 minutes… Write an article.
I love writing and I love giving career advice. I’m always more than happy to have coffee or chat on the phone with students that have reached out to me through LinkedIn or via email. If you like to write and have a passion, consider writing a short (5-10 minutes to read) article on LinkedIn. It can be anything from career advice to discussing events you’ve attend to what is happening in your industry.
Photography: Grace & Co Photo