For 99% of us, LinkedIn literally holds your next opportunity, the contact that will change your life, the job that you desperately need to apply for, or perhaps the key to becoming the leader in your industry.
It’s an incredibly powerful and versatile platform that is underutilized by a lot of people wanting to build their careers. Yup, this means new grads too.
As I’ve said before, I really do believe that the most powerful thing about LinkedIn is that you get to create or recreate yourself.
Within reason, you can use this platform to transform yourself into almost anyone you want to be–from struggling student to vocal thought leader.
If you’ve already created a profile (instructions for doing that here), and you want to take your game to the next level, here are my 10 best LinkedIn tips for reinventing yourself.
1. Type a skill that you have into the search box. Then search “people.”
“What can I do with my psychology degree?”
Here is a way to answer this in 10 seconds or less. Go to LinkedIn, and type in “Psychology” in the search bar.
Hit “Search,” and select “People.”
You will immediately see a list of people who have that skill or degree. This is so simple, but it’s really one of the best LinkedIn tips for career exploration I know.
2. Go to your dream company’s page and connect with the people who work there.
Oh my God! I really love the amazing work that Microoglapp (my made-up company) is doing. I would love to work for them, but I have no idea where to start.
- Go to the company page on LinkedIn.
- Hit the people option on the menu. You may be surprised to find out that you have a common connection with somebody who works there.
- Reach out and connect to a few of them, especially if you have a connection in common.
Even if you don’t share a connection, you can send a message to people with common skills, introducing yourself, and asking if you could have an informational interview. I explained how to do that here.
3. Post something on LinkedIn as often as you can, but no more than once a day.
Want to know the real secret to LinkedIn? Stop consuming content and start creating.
I never know what to share on LinkedIn. I admit that it’s really hard to come up with something thoughtful, especially since I try to share almost every day.
But I take the time to do it.
I have a wild and unproven theory that spending an hour everyday composing a thoughtful LinkedIn post that shows you are a leader in your industry — or at least an interesting person — will change your life.
I mean, it’s just a hunch. I’m not going to die on this hill. But if you do decide to do it, let me know what happens!
I really do believe that if you consistently share interesting and thoughtful information, that it sets you up as a thought leader in your field. As a result, you will probably get far more people come to you than you can imagine.
4. Don’t stop posting.
I’ll tell you what might happen the first time you post on LinkedIn.
Nothing. NADA. Zip.
If you do get some engagement, good for you! But your first few weeks posting on LinkedIn will probably have relatively little engagement on your posts and likely you will feel discouraged.
Don’t you dare quit!
LinkedIn has a snowball effect, and as you consistently post, you will eventually get more and more traction and it will be totally worth it! (PS YouTube works like this too.)
5. Creep the group lists and reach out to people.
It’s challenging to make a LinkedIn group work well, and I say this as somebody who has one. The algorithm just doesn’t prioritize things in the group the same as it does things that you post on your personal feed. So a lot of people don’t see what’s in a group, and it makes it really hard to run one and keep it engaging.
But do you know what groups are perfect for?
Meeting networking contacts!
If people have joined the Foreign Relations group, or the PhD Students group, or the Sales group, people are there because they want to be there!
Go introduce yourself to them. You will meet so many people who are a little further ahead in their career.
6. Text is best.
You can do so much content creation and sharing on the LinkedIn platform.
You can share videos, articles that you write on the LinkedIn editor, articles that you write elsewhere, or things that other people have written.
But the thing that I really believe does the best on LinkedIn is plain old text. (See here for some great tips on how to do it.)
This is weird, and perhaps the algorithm will change eventually.
But for now, don’t be afraid to just type text-based thoughts and see what happens.
7. Connect with people it makes sense to connect to, and tell them why.
You can and should reach out to as many people as you are comfortable contacting on LinkedIn. The sky is the limit.
BUT, I really do think people have the most success connecting with people it makes sense to connect to. If the person receiving the connection can’t figure out why the heck you want to connect with them, there’s a much higher chance they’ll ignore it.
You don’t need to include a note with every connection request, but for the ones that matter a lot to you, it’s worth telling the person why you want to connect to them.
You can do this by adding a note when you’re connecting, either through InMail (a premium feature) or –more likely — through “personalizing” a connection request with a short message.
Here are some great reasons to connect to someone:
- You’re in the same city.
- You’re in the same field.
- You want to move into their field / are trying to learn about it.
- You are curious about the company they work at.
- They are using a skill you have and you’re wondering how they do it.
8. Get the best profile picture you possibly can.
Look, it makes a difference. I’m serious. If you can get your hands on professional headshots, do so. If not, get the best picture you can of you smiling.
I’m sorry that it has to be like this, but it really will help.
9. Use the free month of LinkedIn Premium
I don’t pay for LinkedIn premium. But if you’re like me, you probably get occasional offers to try LinkedIn Premium for free for one month.
I always click yes, fill in my credit card, and set a reminder for myself to cancel after a month.
I paid for LinkedIn premium for a while. I don’t personally find it worth it to pay all the time, but I do at least think everyone should try it.
Some of the most useful features include:
- Who’s looked at my profile–if someone interesting creeps you, you can send them a contact request.
- Salary information–You can see what different careers pay in your area.
- Skills-match notification on job postings– one of the best features, you can see your percentage of “fit” for a posting and which of your skills fit. (NB if you see that other applicants are ranking based on a skill you have that is not listed on your profile, add it!)
- InMail- You can use “InMail” credits to drop a note right in a recruiter’s inbox.
10. Apply for jobs!
Okay, this is hardly the secret stuff, and it might seem out of place on a list of LinkedIn tips. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also tell you that you should be applying for jobs on LinkedIn too! Especially jobs that you have a connection with the recruiter or job poster. These types of connections make a difference. Give it a shot!