Does LinkedIn Matter To You?
There is a simple answer to this question and it should be: yes. Yet for many people in FE, in training provider organisations and in learning and development departments, LinkedIn is a forgotten friend.
However, before you start to tinker with your LinkedIn profile – which is always a mistake – consider how you would answer the three questions below that I always ask, before I offer any advice on this subject to anyone.
1. Who Is Your Audience?
The people you hope will look at your LinkedIn profile could become your audience, but they are not necessarily people you know. You want particular groups of people, in specific professions and with defined interests, to seek out your profile.
Do you know who these people are? Have you worked out where they are? Have you thought how to attract them to your LinkedIn profile?
Imagine your LinkedIn profile is in front of someone you would like to take an interest in you. Then ask yourself if you have written your profile in a way that entices them to look further into your career?
Most people write for themselves. They are their own audiences. Most profiles are “all about me” statements. If yours is a profile like this, you are probably boring LinkedIn users who find you online.
To begin with, work out who your audience is. Are you an expert in a particular field and want fellow learning professionals to take an interest in you? Are you reaching out to people who might want to learn from you, by asking you to speak at their forthcoming conference? Are you looking for a new job?
Whatever your answer and whomsoever you want to attract to your LinkedIn profile, knowledge of the identity of your audience will have an impact on how you write, when you next update your LinkedIn entry.
2. Do You Think Of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) And LinkedIn Together?
Does it surprise you to learn that you must think about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) when you consider how to update your LinkedIn profile?
Whatever else it is, LinkedIn is a search engine. Your defined audience will search for people they want to connect with, or to learn more about, on LinkedIn. Some LinkedIn users will look for suppliers via LinkedIn. Some of them, especially if they are headhunters, will target LinkedIn in order to find suitable candidates for the roles they are trying to fill.
If you do not use attractive search terms in your LinkedIn profile, there is a good chance that the people you would like to get to know will not find you – ever.
This is one of the reasons why you MUST define an audience before you write anything. Fail to do this and you will not be able to use SEO effectively. You will not be able to include the terms your audience uses when you come to rework your profile.
Get to work on finding those terms. To help you work out if you are getting things right, remember than LinkedIn tells its users how often their profiles come up each week in other LinkedIn users’ searches. If you start to use words that are useful in terms of SEO, the number of searches in which you appear each week will increase.
3. Are You Sure You Have Established Your Outcomes?
It is always a good idea to improve your LinkedIn profile. It is even better to make your improvements with a purpose in mind. Do you wish to grow your network? Are you looking for people in the UK or are you looking globally? Are you looking for people in different sectors of the education world? With whom do you want to connect? Make a note and refer to it often.
Should you also be thinking about “deconnecting” from some of your connections? These are the people whom you do not know and probably never will. You probably have no idea why you accepted their connection request.
Next, think about the groups on LinkedIn that deal with your areas of interest and expertise. Join some of those groups. Then post replies to questions that are asked by other group members. Start discussions. Ask questions. Go through the list of members. If you see someone’s details and you would like to connect with him or her, send a connection request.
Set yourself a numerical target to achieve in the next six months. How many of the right sort of connections have you made etc?
A Final Thought . . .
If you have not paid much attention to LinkedIn until now, change your habit. Take a different approach. Build your credentials with groups and individuals on this platform.
Want to see this in action?
Here is an example of the response I received recently, when I asked a LinkedIn expert in the USA to connect with me.
“Thank you for reaching out. Great to connect with another person who shares my passion for LinkedIn and enjoys helping others. Very nice to meet you.”
Over to you.
Margaret Adams is former FE lecturer and college manager. Today she writes about self-improvement and career management for professionals. Find her books on Amazon.