Linda Whited, a founding member of The Inspiration Lab, is a Certified Career Counselor. Along with teaching and coaching at Wake Forest University, Linda owns and operates Time to Be Career Savvy, through which she provides customized guidance for everything from personal branding to salary negotiation. Below, Linda explains how to make the best use of LinkedIn, particularly when the networking world has moved entirely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most people tell me they created a LinkedIn profile because they received an invitation... and then they didn’t do much after that. There's so much more to it! Use LinkedIn as a tool to reinforce all the good messages that should come through in your resume, cover letter, and interview. Let it project to your network your greatest assets and ways you will add value.
Be a star — have an updated and strong profile!
Did you know you can reach “all star” status on LinkedIn? If you need a confidence boost, follow these tips and work your way toward this special distinction.
Customize your profile URL to easily share it with others. Click the Me icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage. Click View profile. Click Edit public profile & URL on the right rail. Under Edit your custom URL in the right rail, click the Edit icon next to your public profile URL. Type the last part of your new custom URL in the text box. Click Save.
Use your headline to your advantage. This doesn’t need to be your current job title. It can be edited to include keywords and focus on your industry or niche — even if that isn’t evident in your current job title. For example, instead of “Director of Student Support Services,” use “Fosters student success in higher education through evidence-based best practices, collaboration, and innovation.” You get 120 characters to do this.
Have an About section and make it a good one. Your first sentence matters most as it’s the only 25 or so characters seen on the mobile LinkedIn before someone has to click See More. Write it in first person like you’re speaking about yourself. If you need a structure, try the Present - Past - Future technique. Mention what your key skills are that will be relevant to your most important user (i.e., a future client or employer). Then incorporate some of your career experience that got you to this point. Finish up with some language about the impact you hope to make via your work or the plans you have as you move forward. Need more ideas? This LinkedIn blog shares some great tips and summaries.
Be a student — LinkedIn is an awesome research database!
Consider searching for people including:
Someone you admire who is ahead of you in their career or a leader in your field. Look at their profile and notice their career path, skills, and certifications. Take note of groups they are in and see what you may learn about a next step you could take.
Alumni from your university and in your major/discipline. You can search for the university and select Alumni from the left-side menu. Then select criteria like Where they Live and click Next to also choose What they Studied. Notice the folks who show up and check out who you may want to connect with.
Be a starter — get connecting in the right way!
Customize your message to a potential contact. LinkedIn provides a space to write your own personalized invitation to connect. This can be quick and simple. Note: If you add connections via the LinkedIn app, you’re not able to customize the message. Do it from a computer instead. Here are a few examples:
“Thanks for talking with me last night at Tyler’s during the student affairs roundtable. I hope we can stay in touch.”
“I ran across your profile in my search for others in this field. I hope we can connect via LinkedIn.”
“As a fellow alum of X University, I wanted to expand my network and connect with you.”
“We went to high school together. Let’s connect here on LinkedIn and if I can help you, let me know!”
“We do similar work and I’d like to connect with you.”