Updated: Sep 30
Written by Laura Moore
Whatever your circumstance, whether you run your own business, freelancing, looking for a new role, or you are comfortably settled in a job, everyone can gain something out of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has seen huge growth over the last few years, and currently has more active UK users than Twitter (28m vs 17m1).
Gone are the days when you only updated your LinkedIn profile when you wanted to start looking for your next new job. It is the go to place for you to keep up to date with your industry news (and discuss the news with other interested parties), network with people in your industry, find new customers for your business, and of course look for a new job. It is now a social media platform in its own right — think of it as Facebook but for your working life.
So how should you be using it? Obviously this depends on your personal circumstance, but it really does have something to offer for everyone.
I’m settled in a job and have no plans to move…
LinkedIn is where you can keep up to date with industry news, and create new connections in your industry. As well as connecting with colleagues, it is a great way of starting informal conversations with other people you work with over a shared interest in an article; think suppliers, customers, and potential new customers if you are in a sales role. It’s also a great way to keep an eye on what competitors are up to as they shout about it on their LinkedIn page!
Follow industry leaders (you can follow people without connecting with them, just click on the “More” button on their profile and then click on follow)
Follow any industry online news/magazine companies eg Retail Week, Education Week, Marketing Week
Don’t just connect with everyone you see, make them worthwhile connections — and if you do want to connect with people always add a message “I saw your comment on that article, I thought you made an interesting point and would like to connect with you”.
Connect with your colleagues — you know quiet Tracy in accounts — well it turns out that she reads A LOT and is a wealth of hidden interesting information on your industry — so not only have you read some really interesting articles, you now have something to chat with her about when you see her in the office.
I’m looking for a job …
You’re in the right place — LinkedIn was initially designed as a platform to connect employers to potential employees. In fact 35.5 million worldwide having been hired by a person they connected with on the site
You should also be using it for all the reasons that someone already in work would (described above) as well as a place to research potential employers — follow companies that you would love to work for, keep up to date on what they are up to.
You can search jobs by category and area, or you can go to specific company pages and look at their jobs (you can also set up alerts so that you are notified when a company you would love to work for posts a new job).
Your main priority however, before you even begin searching for jobs is to make sure your profile is up to date and will make you stand out from the crowd; your profile page is your advert to potential recruiters, so spend time on making it easy to read and make sure all the information is up to date and relevant.
Update your “Job Preferences” with the job titles you are looking for, the area etc. This section can be set to be “Visible by recruiters” or “Visible by everyone”. If you are currently employed then “Visible by Recruiters” is a useful way of not alerting your boss you are looking to move on! LinkedIn have just introduced a new feature so that you can set your preferences to “Visible by everyone” and this will add a green #opentowork frame around your profile picture.
Potential recruiters can search by skills, so make sure you chose the ones most relevant to the jobs that you are looking for.
Set up alerts for your job search so they get emailed to your inbox (you can set up multiple alerts, for different job titles, areas etc)
You can search for remote jobs only (woop woop!) but don’t let that put you off applying for jobs that don’t list it if that is what you want — get the job first, then discuss flexible work arrangements.
Don’t be afraid to be honest — especially if you are currently out of work. You will be surprised how many people you are connected to are willing to make introductions or let you know about opportunities.
Don’t forget to use LinkedIn for your interview research as well — what are the company’s main focuses at the moment? What role is your interviewer in? (yes — they will see that you have looked at their profile, but they will only be impressed that you are doing your research and they will probably expect it!)
Ask people who have worked with you to leave you a recommendation (and offer to do the same in return) — we all know no-one is going to say bad things about each other in such an open forum, but often colleagues will point out strengths you may not have thought of or even realised you had!
I am freelancing or I have my own business…
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for freelancers and business owners as it works perfectly for networking in your industry to find your next client or customer. One of the most powerful tool on LinkedIn for you is the Services section.
On your profile page this section is right at the top, next to your job preferences (this feature is still being rolled out but it seems to be very widely available in the UK now). This is the place to list the services that you or your business provide. The benefit of listing it here is that potential clients can search by services, so it is a great way of clients finding you without having to do any work!
When you complete this section it will also appear in the search results underneath your headline, saying “Provides Services:” and then it will list what you can offer. It also allows clients that you have no connection with to message you, which would not normally be possible without this feature.
If you feel your business would benefit from its own page (normally better suited for service business than products) then bear in mind that you cannot publish articles like you can for a personal profile, so a page works best when you have a website to direct people to.
· Don’t set up a page for your business unless you can see a real benefit and you can describe who your customer on LinkedIn would be.
· Make sure your profile headline describes clearly and concisely what you or your business offer e.g. “Freelance business administration support” “Wellbeing education for small businesses”
· Make the most of your featured sections to highlight work you have done or link to an article you have written on LinkedIn or your website.
Top tips for everyone
A good profile picture is a necessity. This doesn’t have to be done professionally, a good smart phone will take a good enough photo if used properly (we all love a bit of soft focus or background blur!). Also think about where your picture is taken and try to reflect your personality in it — are you a cool city person, independent coffee shop lover, or do you love the outdoors? Think of a background that will show a little bit of “you”, not just a plain magnolia wall.
Don’t forget your banner. This is a second opportunity to showcase your personality or your offer if you are providing a service.
Make your headline count. When you appear in a search, this, along with your name and picture is what people see. The default setting is your current job title, but you can edit this to something more generic if you need to sell yourself, “Eg Award winning Architect” or “Industry leading education specialist”
Keep your profile up to date — make sure you have all your roles on there and any voluntary experience. Rather than gaps in your timeline, if you took time off to have kids, just be open about it. “Career Break”, followed by a short explanation, is a good professional way to describe it.
Always include your volunteer experience. This is particularly relevant for mum who have taken a “Career Break”. We all know you didn’t sit around in coffee shops for a few years. Tell people what you got up to. If you are helping to set up a Coworking Hub in your area, don’t forget to add us into your volunteer experience.
Use your “About” section wisely — it sits very close to the top of your profile, way above your experience. Make sure it is easy to read using bullet points — if you write a long essay no one will read it.
Did you know you can personalise your URL — so that you’re not just a collection of letters and numbers? On your profile page in the top right hand corner click on “Edit public profile and URL”.
Make sure you follow us at Military Coworking Network. Obvs!
We could go on and on all day with more tips, but hopefully I’ve covered the basics!!
If you have any questions regarding how to use LinkedIn, or you would like some feedback on your profile, just give us shout out in the Military Coworking Community Group, where there are lots of other people probably wondering the same thing!