The vast number of social networking opportunities can sometimes leave the people overwhelmed and confused about which social media networks to focus on and the best practices for each platform. What works on one platform probably won’t work on another.
If you’re a social media holdout, I get your confusion. It seems like almost everyone is on Facebook, but it’s a dizzying space with a mix of political rants, favorite recipes, pictures of babies, and vacations. If you’re looking to connect with people professionally, Facebook presents some very specific challenges that most professionals would be wise to avoid.
Twitter is the land of sharing the occasional crazy thoughts and funny memes. Again, professionals could set themselves up there, but the temptation to stray from professional decorum is too great, so again, professionals should continue to seek another platform to set up their professional profile.
What sets LinkedIn Apart.
Fortunately, LinkedIn provides a great space to set up business profiles that will hopefully resist the urge to descend into craziness and connect users with great professional opportunities.
First, users of LinkedIn need to be clear about what the purpose and goal of LinkedIn is: it’s a social networking platform that professionals use to connect with other professionals and companies. You typically will not see cat memes, baby pictures, or the other random-ass stuff that you see on other platforms.
These people mean business. I will be the first to admit that I find LinkedIn to be…aesthetically underwhelming. It is not a space that focuses on being pretty. It unapologetically focuses on the process of connecting professionals one connection at a time.
Building your profile.
That approach especially applies to the picture that you share on your profile. Again, it should be a professional picture. Your hair should be neat, your clothing unobtrusive (and, maybe a bit boring). Basically, think of it this way-you’re presenting yourself as a professional. You want a picture that screams “hire me” or “work with me.” Not, “I’m crazy” or “last one to play beer pong.”
Next, begin filling out your profile details-being mindful that these will be viewed from a business professional lense. People will look at your details with the thought of: would I want to work or collaborate with this person? As you fill out your profile be careful to avoid trite catchphrases, but figure out the best way to communicate:
- Leadership roles that you’ve been in. Are you the president of your local professional association? Do you run workshops that help other business professionals? If you do you would be considered an influencer?
- How you helped organizations that you’ve worked with. Did you help them make more money? Attract media mentions? Grow their clientele?
- Or, are you an entrepreneur and have helped people grow their income? Find confidence to grow their own business, etc.
As you share your details, be a bit unemotional about it, but, do share the details.
Don’t get sucked into the great 3rd person vs. 1st person profile language debate. Every since LinkedIn was founded people have argued (sometimes in circles) about the choice of pronoun that you should use when working on your profile. My advice is to use the language that you feel will best highlight you and stick with it.
Master social etiquette.
Time to get social. LinkedIn has a feature where you endorse other people’s skills. Feel free to endorse your connections’ skills. Comment on people’s posts and projects that they’ve shared on their timelines. Be genuine in your interactions. You will find that your contacts will also share the love!
Don’t forget to share projects that you’re working on, resources that may be useful to your contacts, and connect people that you feel may be able to help each other in their business.
LinkedIn also has a pretty fantastic blog offering tips and ideas for users of the platform. It’s definitely worth a look. In fact, LinkedIn’s online resources are much easier to use than Facebook’s (which tends to be way too techy).
Finally, like all social media platforms, remember that LinkedIn functions like a search engine. What that means is that certain keywords and phrases will make your profile easily found by other professionals and businesses looking to potentially partner or hire people.
Spend some time typing in phrases that you would use to search for people or resources. Look at how those profiles are set up.
LinkedIn may be the “unsexy” social media platform, but it absolutely gets the job done.
Do you have any good LinkedIn tips to share? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.