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It used to be when I wanted share a great article with clients, I’d clip, photocopy and mail it to them. When I wanted to make new connections, I’d attend a breakfast networking meeting and or an after-work mixer. And when I wanted to increase my profile, I’d write an article for a newspaper or magazine.

LinkedIn has changed how I do all these things.

In fact, the social network is becoming more important than my smartphone and email, because it combines communicating with branding, interacting with marketing, and personal with professional.

Read: How to create a professional LinkedIn profile

In this article, we’ll cover three essential skills you need to get your LinkedIn profile in shape.

1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is the new business card – but it has much more information. Here’s how to edit your profile to make sure it is attracting people and opportunities and not sending them away.

    • Create a professional headline and make it compelling. This description accompanies your headshot all over LinkedIn and should communicate your value proposition in one line. Cathy Curtis is a CFP and a financial advisor, yet her professional headline describes her value proposition: “Financial Advisor Helping Savvy Women Investors.”
    • Add a professional headshot. People make split-second decisions about whether or not they like you, and a warm, smiling headshot can improve your chances.
    • Write a profile summary that describes what you do (in the first person) and attach multimedia content to your summary, including publications you’ve written, images of you in action, or slide presentations.
    • Emphasize your best achievements by putting your profile’s sections in the order you want them to appear. You can do this by dragging and dropping them in their desired spots.
    • Personalize your default LinkedIn URL in the “contact info” settings of your profile.
    • Add publications that you have written (with links) and awards you have received.

      2. Share an article with your LinkedIn connections

      Sharing great articles helps people understand an idea or concept better. It also positions you as a helper and demonstrates your specific expertise and knowledge. When deciding what content to share, think first about what your network would be interested in and share that.

      Here’s how you do it.

        • Find a great article. LinkedIn offers suggestions on LinkedIn Pulse, a news media service built into LinkedIn. You can also find great articles all over the Internet. (Read: How to curate great financial content)
        • Paste the web address (URL) of the article you want to share into the Status Update field at the top of your LinkedIn feed. The link will now appear. Add a description that clarifies why you are sharing this piece (why you think it’s worthy of someone’s time or what you found interesting about it). Be enthusiastic, and sell your share.
        • Select where you want to share the article. Options include: your news feed, a LinkedIn Group, or specific people you’re connected with. I’d suggest starting by sharing to your news feed.

          3. Write a long-form article

          LinkedIn has recently introduced long-form publishing. This means you can now use LinkedIn like a blogging platform to publish an article. When your article is published, LinkedIn automatically notifies your connections. This is an easy and powerful way to share your insights and add value. Remember to write content with your reader in mind – avoid overly self-promotional marketing content or boring product information.

          Here’s how you publish on LinkedIn.

            • Click the pencil icon in the Status Update field at the top of your LinkedIn feed. (If you don’t see a pencil icon next to the paperclip icon, publishing isn’t yet turned on for your account. Contact LinkedIn to request publishing functionality if you don’t have it.)
            • Compose your article and title. I’d suggest writing it in a word-processing application, then copying and pasting your final article into LinkedIn. Make sure to Save and Preview the article before publishing.
            • Include at least one image. LinkedIn uses the first image in an article as a thumbnail when listing an article on the site, and a good image makes the article more appealing.
              • Format the article using heading tags. Use H1 and H2 subheadings to break up the text. This improves readability and is good for search engine optimization.
              • Tweet a link to the article and mention “tip @LinkedInPulse” in the tweet in order to alert LinkedIn editors to your post. If they like it, LinkedIn may include it in their Pulse list, thereby increasing your audience beyond your network.

              Read: Tips for LinkedIn publishing

              Next time, we’ll look at four additional LinkedIn skills.

              Jay Palter is a social media strategist and coach with two decades of experience in financial services, software development and marketing.
              Originally published on Advisor.ca

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