Image credit: yuoak | Getty Images
With approximately 610 million members and growing, LinkedIn is the world's largest business-oriented search engine. But most LinkedIn members see it as nothing more than a place to post their online résumé. According to the company, only 40 percent of members log in more than once a month. The other 60 percent, apparently, hope that others will simply find their résumés among the digital pile.
But the truth is, that's not how LinkedIn works. To really gain value on the platform, you need to provide value to it in exchange. For example, having a complete profile -- we're talking info on your background, education, and areas of expertise -- can help you achieve what LinkedIn calls All-Star status. That's much more than a moniker: the more complete your profile, the higher you rank in searches on the platform. In fact, LinkedIn says that members who list five or more skills receive as many as 17 times more profile views. And don't forget that LinkedIn profiles rank high in Google searches, too. Here are 12 simple things you can do to boost your visibility -- from engaging with the LinkedIn community to optimizing every feature.
1. Brand your profile header.
The topof your LinkedIn profile has space for an image. Use it to display your personal branding or your corporate logo, and then do the same on your other social media platforms. That way, you'll look consistent across the internet (and you can bet an interested party will look at every profile you have). People will perceive your organization as being high-quality and professional, even if you are a small firm.
2. Invest in a professional headshot.
Photos matter. LinkedIn says that when a user includes a profile photo, they receive 21 times more profile views and up to 36 times more messages. And with that many eyeballs on your photo, don't offer anything but the best. Cropped photos from a wedding reception will not help your professional image. Would you trust a financial adviser if they displayed a blurry selfie as their photo?
3. Add a client-centric headline...
Your profile has a headline -- it shows up at the top, and underneath your name whenever you comment on a post. By default, LinkedIn puts your job title in this space, but unless your title is unique, it's a missed opportunity. Instead, use a benefit-related statement that tells viewers how you can serve them. For example, "I help small-business owners build systems, delete the chaos, and increase sales."
4. ...and pay it off in your summary.
You pick up a book at the library because the title grabbed your attention. Think of your profile headline as the book title -- and now think of your profile summary as the inside flap of the book, which entices people to keep reading. Your goal is to keep the reader scrolling through your entire LinkedIn profile so they get to know you and learn about your expertise.
5. Endorse your colleagues and clients.
This feature may be confusing -- you may wonder if writing endorsements for others really matters, or if anyone cares. That's open for debate, but here's what's undeniable: When you endorse someone else, your recommendation (plus your name and photo) appears in their profile. That gives you more exposure to their network.
6. Add multimedia content.
You can link to video, audio, and written materials in your LinkedIn profile, but rather than just use that space as a showcase, I suggest regularly testing new material and monitoring your views to see which content is popular, so you'll know how best to impress your audience. For instance, I post "how-to" videos and presentations in my LinkedIn profile so people can learn from me and experience my teaching style.
7. Upload native videos.
LinkedIn wants to keep people inside its platform, and sees video as a good way to do that. That's why, when you upload video directly to LinkedIn, its algorithm will reward you with more video views. (By contrast, if you link to YouTube, the algorithm will depress its reach.) LinkedIn allows videos to be up to 10 minutes long, but I'd advise keeping it short -- users love how-to tips, perspectives, and breaking industry news.
8. Write content on the platform.
Much like it does with video, LinkedIn rewards you with more visibility when you write articles inside its platform. Even better, LinkedIn will give you reader data you can use to help position yourself as a subject-matter expert: By tapping "Me" in the LinkedIn app, you can find real-time insights into who's reading your articles, including their employers, job titles, and locations.
9. Include hashtags in posts.
Hashtags on LinkedIn work differently than they do on Facebook and Twitter, where it's unlikely that people are monitoring broad tags like #motivation. LinkedIn recently started encouraging users to join hashtag communities around core business and personal growth subjects. (#motivation has 12 million followers!) When you share content, adding these hashtags will expand your reach exponentially.
10. Update your education.
Alumni networks are strong on LinkedIn, and easy to activate. To find alumni from your school, filter your LinkedIn people search by selecting your college in the "School" field. Connect with them on LinkedIn and ask them who their best referral is. Send them some referrals and they will gladly return the favor.
Related: Creating LinkedIn Ads That Convert Like Crazy 11. Join LinkedIn groups.
Members can create groups on LinkedIn, which often bring together people in similar professions ("Digital Marketing" has 1.1 million members) or skill sets ("Adobe Photoshop" has more than 317,000 members). When you join a group, it becomes part of your extended network. Your profile will start appearing in the right sidebar of those group member profiles, giving you lots of free exposure in a specialized community.
12. Use LinkedIn Profinder to get clients.
Sign up to be a service provider in Profinder and you will receive leads from people looking for your expertise. They're free, to an extent. (If you want to respond to more than five a month, you must pay for LinkedIn Premium.) All kinds of professionals are on here, including coaches, marketers, developers, IT services, writers, consultants, and more. I receive 10 to 15 coaching requests every day from Profinder.