A Roadmap To LinkedIn Success

I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say, "I just don't get LinkedIn." It's a common sentiment, and to a certain extent, I understand why. LinkedIn describes itself as "a business-oriented social networking service." This sounds great. But how do you use LinkedIn when you aren't looking for a job? And how do you build connections so that you can better utilize LinkedIn when you are?

I'm not a celebrity or a social media guru, but I have noticed that for the average Joe there is a strong correlation between how you use social media and how well you are received. So I've put together a guide that will put you on the road to LinkedIn success.

  1. To get started, fill out your profile. LinkedIn does a pretty good job of stepping you through the process when you first create an account, and if you've had an account for a while, you can always click the "complete your profile" button for a step-by-step guide.

  2. Make sure to add an industry-appropriate portrait of yourself as your profile image. Including your dog, cat or pet squirrel is tempting but probably not a good idea.

  3. Write a compelling summary paragraph. This is one of the first things people will see when they visit your profile. Try to describe yourself, your talents and your experience in a way that entices people to scroll down for more detail.

  4. Don't be afraid to ask other people to connect. Much of the LinkedIn community is passive until they are looking for a job. This means you can't expect other people to find you, especially when you're first beginning to consistently use LinkedIn. I personally try not to connect with people that I don't know, but LinkedIn connections don't need to be good friends. They can be people you met once at a conference or who you sat by in a college course. Just remember, it doesn't hurt to ask.

  5. Join a few career-appropriate groups, and follow industry-leading companies, news sources and influencers. Even scanning these periodically will help you stay on top of industry trends.

  6. Post consistently. I use Buffer to help me post articles to LinkedIn several times a week. Sharing consistently makes certain that your name will be in front of your connections when they log in. Be known as someone who consistently shares helpful information.

I have much to learn about LinkedIn and social media in general, and there will always be ways for me to improve. The suggestions above have been helpful for me personally, and I hope they are for you as well.

If you have any questions or would like to share what has helped you use LinkedIn successfully, please leave a comment below.