(By Megan Brimmer)
Whether you’re using it to land your next project, stay connected with old colleagues, or just to keep on top of the industry, LinkedIn is a great tool for any IT consultant’s arsenal. Here are 10 tips to getting the most out of LinkedIn.
- If you haven’t spent much time on LinkedIn, a good place to start is with your resume. Put a 3-4 sentence recap of each of the places you’ve worked, focusing on your achievements. Hard numbers that reflect your achievements, if you have them, are always good. Be sure to complete all of the fields LinkedIn prompts you for. Then if you’re a consultant, you can enter each of your projects in the projects section of your profile so that anyone looking at your portfolio can quickly see the details of your work. We’ve done this for all of our leadership team. For an example, check out Patrick Green.
- After you’ve put in your work experience, add in any publications or distinctions you’ve received. Bonus points here for adding in any additional languages you speak, hobbies or volunteer interests.
- Keep your profile up to date. When people are looking for experts in your field, you want them to find you. Make sure your summary includes words that sum up what you actually do. To see great examples of users who do this, do an advanced search for your keywords and, if it’s relevant, in your particular geographical area.
- Establish old connections. LinkedIn lets you import your contacts directly from your email (see the +person icon on the top right), which makes it really easy to connect with old colleagues you may not have communicated with recently. Be sure to upload a recent photo of yourself before reaching out to your connections. It might seem trivial or too personal, but you’ll have a lot more success connecting with people if they can see your face and remember you instantly. You can also find connections by company or location, or by scrolling through your connections’ connections. 500 connections is the magic number at which you look like a pro LinkedIn user. Only connect with your real connections though – having 1000 connections you’ve never met before doesn’t do you much good.
- Get recommendations. Ask and you shall receive. Reach out to old colleagues and ask to exchange brief recommendations. Honest reviews of your work are quick credibility builders for anyone looking at your profile.
- Add your skills. These are the basic buzzwords or topics you know about, towards the bottom of your page. Once you’re set up, your connections will have a chance to recommend you for these skills, and you’ll be able to do the same for them.
- Once you have your profile basics set up, head over to LinkedIn groups (under interests). These are where some good conversations take place. The key is to find groups within your niche that are small enough to focus on conversations you want to be a part of yet large enough to actually have conversations, rather than one company constantly promoting itself. A few we like at SCM Connections that drive good conversations are:
- You can also follow influencers and companies to stay in the know about what companies and people or brands are doing. If there’s a new white paper, blog or video that just came out, you’re likely to see it come up on your LinkedIn newsfeed.
- Use InMail to connect with colleagues. For an upgrade fee, you can send an InMail message to just about anyone on LinkedIn. And messages on LinkedIn are read up to 3x more than email messages, which works well for getting in touch with busy people.
- For a monthly fee, you can get even more out of LinkedIn by opting for a premium account. There are multiple types of paid accounts depending upon what you want to do, ranging from recruiting to job hunting. These give you increased visibility to LinkedIn users and can even put your profile towards the top of search results. Then when you’re done using the service, you can always quit your paid subscription and use it just when you need it.