No matter the industry you work in or the major you’re studying, LinkedIn is worth having. With over 500 million members, the professional social network that started in 2003 is still relevant today. It’s great for building your personal brand, networking with professionals in your field, and learning from inspiring public figures you look up to. I’ve used LinkedIn to connect with professionals in my field, join conversations surrounding my interests in marketing, and apply for jobs—I’ve even landed my dream role thanks to LinkedIn. Sound like something you’re interested in? Read on to learn how to leverage your LinkedIn.
Complete your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is more than a name, headline, and current position. Take the time to go through the following sections and fill them out completely—this should take you around thirty minutes to an hour.
Add your headline, current position, and location
Fill out this information and keep it up to date. Your headline can either be your current job title—[current position] at [current company]—or you can have fun with it. Some people like to get creative and write headlines that show more personality. In a creative funk?Learn how to write great LinkedIn headlines.
Upload a profile photo and cover photo
LinkedIn profiles with photos get21x more views and 36x more messages, so it’s safe to say you should have a profile photo. When uploading your photo, make sure it is appropriate, professional, and high quality. It’s best to upload headshots instead of full body images as they’re easier to recognize. (Some people won’t accept requests from people they don’t know, so make sure they can see your face and easily recognize you.)
When it comes to uploading a cover photo, a lot of people tend to opt for cityscapes, company backgrounds with logos and slogans (these show company spirit), or personally branded backgrounds (these are great for promoting your own website). Whichever you choose, try to make it match your profile photo so that the top of your profile has a cohesive look.
Write a compelling summary
Your summary is one of the first things people see when they visit your profile—think of this as your first impression to potential employers. You want your summary to sound professional, yet authentic and compelling enough to encourage them to view the rest of your profile.
Start strong. Hook in your audience with a compelling first sentence, but don’t make it too long—LinkedIn summaries on mobile cut off after a certain number of characters. While you still have a 2,000 character limit for your summary, it’s best to choose quality over quantity.
Use keywords. Good news: most of the words your enter on LinkedIn are searchable by other users. By successfully utilizing keywords on your profile, you can attract recruiters for the jobs you want. Remember to be truthful and only choose keywords that represent your experience and skills.
Be authentic. Your summary isn’t just an elevator pitch—it’s a story. Be original and show your personality in your writing. Good storytelling demonstrates your passions, values, and purpose.
(You can also upload media to your summary, so feel free to upload your resume or link to an online portfolio!)
Fill out the experience section
Many people tend to copy and paste their resumes into the experience section, but little do they know that LinkedIn profiles are very different than resumes. Resumes provide basic information while LinkedIn profiles enhance and elaborate on that same information. Just make sure the content stays consistent between both your resume and LinkedIn.
Include all current and past work experiences that are relevant to the career field you’re pursuing. The experience section is also a great place to include leadership roles in organizations, Greek life, sports, and clubs.
Pro tip: add “Braven Fellow” to your LinkedIn to show your involvement in the accelerator course!
Fill out the education section
Include all levels of education when filling out this section—A.A. degrees, B.A./B.S. degrees, masters degrees, certificates, etc. LinkedIn also allows you to upload activities and societies you’re part of so include all clubs, organizations, honor societies, and sports teams you’re involved in.
The education section also allows you to upload media. Take advantage and upload class projects, essays, and assignments that you’re proud of. Presentations upload on SlideShare, a web service that lets you share presentations with everyone. You can also write short descriptions for each project to give viewers more information.
Add volunteer experience, certificates, and skills
Have volunteer experience? There’s a section for that, too. Fill it out similarly to how you complete your experience section.
LinkedIn also has a section where you can upload licenses and certifications.
Pro tip: sign up for Lynda Learning, owned by LinkedIn, or see if your local library offers it for free with a library card. There are over 10,000 courses that you can take, many of which provide you with a certificate—upon completion of the course—that you can upload to your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn’s skills limit is 50, leaving you plenty of room to include your top talents. Listing more than 5 skills on your profile will get you17x more profile views, so take up space! To make things even better, you can get endorsed for every skill, boosting your credibility.
Add your accomplishments
Published any articles lately? Or received any awards? What about projects or test scores you’re proud of? LinkedIn allows you to upload various items under the “Accomplishments” section—courses, publications, organizations, honors & awards, languages, projects, patents, and test scores.
LinkedIn has the wonderful capability of displaying professional recommendations on your profile. Reach out to past managers, coaches, professors, and colleagues with a thoughtful message when requesting a recommendation.
LinkedIn recommendations act as proof that you have the skills you list on your profile. But they go further than your skill endorsements — recommendations tend to be more detailed, thoughtful, and carry more weight.
Once you’ve completely filled out your LinkedIn profile, take the next step and start networking with other professionals. Connect with current and past coworkers, classmates, managers, coaches, etc. Reach out to people who work in your desired career field and ask to conductinformational interviews. Follow companies and public figures that inspire you. Join groups related to your interests and career path.
LinkedIn provides you multiple opportunities to network with professionals in and outside your field. You can also find local networking events to attend on LinkedIn. Need to brush up on your networking skills? Check out Braven’snetworking checklist!
Think you’re ready to take your profile to the next step? Consider gettingLinkedIn Premium. You can upgrade free for the first month and try out features like applicant insights, on-demand learning, monthly InMails, and see who’s viewed your profile. Whether you try the upgrade or stick with the free version, LinkedIn offers a lot of benefits and opportunities to build your brand and connect with like-minded individuals.