Congratulations on joining LinkedIn! Okay, I know, perhaps you’re still thinking of joining, so you’re looking out for the best resource that’ll prepare you to launch out as a LinkedIn beginner.
Whether you’re still considering it or you’ve already opened an account, this article is for you. This article will teach you how LinkedIn works and how to make it work for you.
In this article, we’ll cover;
• How LinkedIn works. • How to properly set up your account. • Answers to some frequently asked questions LinkedIn beginners ask.
But, first things first, what is LinkedIn? Why should you be on LinkedIn? Why should you invest so much time on LinkedIn growing your network and connections?
What is LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a professional networking platform on the internet. It’s a place where professionals gather for purposes such as job search, industry connection and networking, brand promotion etc.
Why You Should Be on LinkedIn
People are constantly searching for products and services; and they are consistently looking for qualified people who can serve their needs.
You’ll agree with me that; finding someone who can service your need is different from finding a qualified person who can service that need. In the same light, people are looking out for ways to validate “professionals”.
Unless you have a personal site, there’s no better platform that can help you showcase your value as a professional.
Other social platforms have their positives; but, one of the strong points of the LinkedIn platform, is that it gives you the leverages of networking, collaboration, and career growth.
You have access to a pool of similar people in your industry across over 200 countries. At the moment, LinkedIn has over 700 million users. That means; if you utilize it properly, you’ll get value for your time.
Why People Join LinkedIn
People who are on LinkedIn; join in, to fulfil one of the following purposes:
Sales and prospecting
Gain career insight
Build a professional network
LinkedIn is set up to connect professionals with aligning goals:
• If you’re job hunting, you’ll meet with an employer. • If you’re looking to grow your brand, you’ll connect with your target customer. • If you’re joining to make sales, you would be able to build your profile to show that you’re a thought leader in your industry, and using your service is the most reasonable decision for your prospects.
Jobseeker, brand promoter, sales rep, business owner etc. Whatever category you fall into, there’s someone on LinkedIn seeking out your service.
People are accustomed to researching professionals online (LinkedIn when it comes to career-related researches). So, it’ll tell very little of how updated you are with 21st-century tools if they go on LinkedIn and don’t find you; worse, if the information they find about you is nothing to write home about. Which is why you’ll need to optimize your LinkedIn profile to connect with your target audience.
What is the best way to get started? Do you just go ahead and create your account then set it up?
How Most People Start Their LinkedIn Journey
If you’re reading this after joining LinkedIn, let me guess how your LinkedIn journey started;
• Heard about LinkedIn and how amazing it is for career development. • Got convinced about joining. • Opened an account. • Quickly set it up. • Voila! You’re done and ready to have fun. • Breaking news! You find out that it’s not actually as fun as you envisioned. • You get stuck. Conclude that it’s not working. Then you leave, come back once in a while to scroll through the pages of LinkedIn. • Oh, I forgot to add; feel pressured by the achievements and accolades people share on their timeline.
If I just described your LinkedIn journey (okay, maybe with some minor difference), I have some good news for you;
You’re not alone.
Your LinkedIn story is about to change after reading this.
If you’re yet to create an account and you’re reading this, I have better news for you; the person I described above doesn’t have to be you, you won’t have to go through this path. You’ll learn a better approach that’ll help you appreciate LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Beginner: How to Get Started for Effective Results
Here’s how to get started on LinkedIn for effective results;
LinkedIn Beginner’s Step 1: Planning Your LinkedIn
Before creating your LinkedIn account, you need to answer the following questions;
What is your goal on LinkedIn?: What do you plan to achieve with your time on LinkedIn, what will be the benchmark for success? (Landing a job, gain professional networks, getting more engagements (for people who are building their brand), making sales, etc.). You may have to revisit the section on why people join LinkedIn to refresh your brain.
Who’s your target audience?: After deciding on your LinkedIn goals, the next step is to determine who your target audience is. For example, someone who wants to land a job will target recruiters, hiring managers, employers, human resources personnel, CEOs etc. While someone like me that runs a career brand; hoping to serve job listing opportunities to recruiters on our website, while providing the latest job vacancies for job seekers, will target both job seekers and employers.
What keywords are core to your industry/niche/profession?: If people want to search for you or your service, what would they possibly search for?
Be particular about the 3 points listed above; getting it right will determine if every other step you take will work out well or not.
LinkedIn Beginner’sStep 2: Setting Up Your Account
Sadly, most people rush over their account setup. One major reason is that, truthfully, the setup process to get an “All-Star” profile is kind of long and may turn out boring. More so, a lot of persons don’t know how to talk about themselves.
However, because you’re not like everyone else, you’ll have to take your time and set up your account to be strategic, compelling and unique.
Strategic because it’ll be set up to target a well-researched target audience.
Compelling because it’ll speak the language of the audience and get them to connect, engage, or require your service.
Unique because it won’t be like every random LinkedIn profile, it won’t just be a replica of your CV. You’ll use your account to create a perception about who you are and what you can deliver.
Tip: The idea is to hold back from sending connection requests until you’ve set up your account completely.
How to Set up Your LinkedIn Profile to be All-Star
For you to have an All-Star LinkedIn profile, you need to complete the following setup:
Your industry and location
Current work position (with a description)
At least two previous positions (you can use internships, volunteer experiences or industrial training to complement if you’ve not had much work experience)
Skills (there’s space for 50 skills to be included)
A profile picture (add a banner too)
At least 50 connections
Setting up Your LinkedIn Profile
There are 8 fields to fill to have a complete LinkedIn profile setup:
The introduction section comprises of your: • Full name • Current position • Education (You can choose to show this or not) • Location • Industry • Customized headline
Tip: You can add a banner by clicking on the pencil icon above your picture. Pick a banner of your choice then insert it. Click on save when you’re done.
This is your summary. More than anything, this should be a personal message to your profile viewers. Don’t just copy what you have on your CV. To write an engaging about, enter the conversation already in your visitor’s head. What is the conversation you ask? • What can I learn about this person… • What is this person about… • What more is there about this person that I should care…
If you can build your summary around any of these questions, you’re definitely going to end up with a strong summary.
Your background section consists of your: • Experience • Education • Licences and certifications • Volunteer works
How to fill your background section
Go to your LinkedIn profile and click the “add profile section” just towards the bottom of the first frame of your profile page.
Click on background
Click on any of the background section you want to add e.g. education or experience
Fill in your details. Click on save.
In order to prevent LinkedIn from notifying your network that you made changes to your experience, turn off your notification. You can turn off the notification by clicking the notification button to turn it from green to black.
Note: You must complete at least your work experience and education to date, else you won’t get an “all star” profile.
You have the opportunity of picking up to 50 skills. However, you should keep this simple and only pick the skills that are relevant to your purpose on LinkedIn. It’s also important to include your skills because that is the only way people can endorse you and improve your image in the public eye.
Have you completed any key projects, tasks? Have you received any awards or accolades? Do you have certificates in any professional course? This is the section to include those.
You can also add pictures to show proof.
How to include accomplishment
From your profile page, click add profile section.
Click on accomplishment. The list of different types of accomplishments that you can include will show.
Click on any of the accomplishments you want to add e.g. courses
Write the course name, the certificate number and the organization that certified you.
Click on save.
Note: You must complete at least your work experience and education to date, else you won’t get an “all star” profile.
I call this section LinkedIn testimonial page.
I believe that when the website developers were creating this site, they probably said to themselves; “Okay, people will come here and claim to be the best painter thing after Da Vinci. Let’s give them a chance to invite people they’ve worked with or for; to testify if their painting is really as good as they claim it is”.
I don’t know if my thought is correct, but one thing is sure, LinkedIn wants you to show proof of your expertise. Get people to attest for your works. Let the happy clients or colleagues speak for you!
To add a recommendation, you have to request for it or wait for someone who’ll willingly recommend you. The later doesn’t happen often, so you have to request for it, if it’s that important to you.
When you get a recommendation, your next step is to either approve the recommendation, revert it back to the referral for correction (because you can’t edit a recommendation), or reject the recommendation.
How to request for a recommendation
On your profile page, click the add profile section.
Click additional information.
Click request recommendation.
Type the name of the person you want to recommend you. Click next.
Select your relationship with the person and your position at the time. Click next.
LinkedIn will provide a default recommendation message. You can go ahead and customize that message, telling the person the exact skills you want to be recommended for.
Your default LinkedIn URL is a combination of letters and numbers, you’d want to change it to something customized to your name i.e. https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardokiasi
How to customize your LinkedIn profile URL
From your home, click to view your LinkedIn profile.
Click on the “Edit public profile and URL” that appears on the top right column.
Click the pencil icon that appears next to your URL at the right column side of your screen.
Type the customized URL you’ve chosen in the text box that appears.
Tip: If you can’t see this on your phone, then you have to switch to a desktop to do it. LinkedIn URL can have 5 to 30 letters or numbers.
LinkedIn Beginner’sStep 3: Gaining Connections
Caution: If you’re new on LinkedIn, don’t start sending connection requests until your account is completely setup. Even if you have some connections; but after reading this, you discovered your profile is not set up properly, go through everything in step 2 again and optimize your account.
As a LinkedIn beginner, you won’t enjoy LinkedIn until you have a good number of connections to engage with. The question now is; how can you gain connections, since you’re just new on the platform?
Not to worry, I’ll show you how to get your first set of LinkedIn connections, and even as you progress, you can use the same method to expand your connection.
How to Gain More Connections on LinkedIn
In this section, I’ll cover the 4 ways to gain more connections as a LinkedIn beginner. The fastest and safest way to get your first set of connections is by importing your offline networks to LinkedIn. You can do this by;
Importing contacts from your email and phone number.
Making a public post on other social platforms that you’re already active on; announcing that you’re now on LinkedIn, and anyone can connect with you through your link.
You can post something like;
Hello guys, I’m now on LinkedIn attach your user name or URL Connect with me; I can’t wait to explore LinkedIn with you.
3. Using LinkedIn suggestions.
LinkedIn has a suggestion section called “people you may know”. LinkedIn makes this suggestion using details such as your imported connection, school, past employments, people with similar profile information etc.
Go to your LinkedIn home, click on my network section of your account.
In the My Network section, click People You May Know.
When you see people you may know especially the ones from the same school as you, click the connect button.
Clicking the Connect button immediately sends a default LinkedIn connection request.
To get connection suggestions, you’ll have to link your email and phone number to your account.
You can include your email address and have LinkedIn auto-connect it for you. By allowing auto-connect, LinkedIn will match your mail contact with the users’ email on their database then make network suggestions for you. The same thing applies to the phone number.
Other Ways to Grow Your Connection as a LinkedIn Beginner
Joining LinkedIn groups in your field
Following company pages
Importance of Having Strong Connections on LinkedIn
The more connections you have;
The easier it is for you to rank
LinkedIn uses your connections to suggest people you may know.
Expanding your connection will give you more opportunities for visibility and engagements.
Tip: The LinkedIn algorithm works in a way that if someone searches, not everyone on LinkedIn will appear. Most of the search results will be liked by people connected to the searcher. So, the more people you’re connected to, the more your chances of being found.
Caution: Don’t be desperate for connection, and start bombarding people, what you need is just the first set of connections to kick start your engagement. As time goes on, more people will be connecting with you and vice versa.
That brings us to the next question, how do you stay engaged on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn Beginner’sStep 4: Engage
People come to LinkedIn and see the high activity, and feel like they can never measure up. Well, you need time to study how your connections interact and how to align with them.
Here are ways you can stay engaged on LinkedIn and also get engagement;
• You may not have something to post daily, but you can engage with other people when they post. • Like, comment, or share. When you like and comment on someone’s post 3-4 times, by the time you make your post, they’ll reciprocate. • When people share achievements, celebrate them; it’ll mean a lot to them and they won’t forget you for making out time to appreciate them. • Use specific hashtags to communicate: My friend Greatman hardly writes a post on LinkedIn without using the hashtag #LinkedIinFam. Over time, that has helped him keep in touch with the community of people that uses that hashtag. • Invite people to comment on your post by mentioning them. This is a great way of showing the persons you mentioned, that you value their contribution and wealth of knowledge. When they respond, your post will also be seen by people in their network, thereby gaining more visibility; and the more people see your post, the more likes you may get, and if more people like your post, then it becomes visible to the people on their network too. As a result, you’ll have engaging content.
Finally, if you have people on LinkedIn that you learn from, do well to always engage their posts. This has 4 advantages;
It’ll make the person familiar with your handle and soon enough they’ll start engaging your post too.
It’ll help you familiarize yourself with the person’s network, and most times the person will have more networks than you do.
You can come in contact with people who share the same ideologies with you on their network because of the comments you drop. This can also help you gather more connections, and the important thing is that; they’ll be good connections, not just passersby. These are the types of connections that will leave a comment or like when they see your post.
Lastly, it’ll make the LinkedIn algorithm show their contents more to you.
A Short Story
Before I wrap up this section, I’ll tell you something that I recently learnt on LinkedIn.
On Friday 26th March 2021, just before writing this, I noticed that I had not seen any post from one of the thought leaders in my niche Liz M. Lopez.
So, I went through her profile to see if she has been online all the while, and yes she has. I quickly made a post appreciating her for all her contributions to our niche. Then at the end of my message, I complained that I’ve not been seeing her post and I didn’t know why.
When she saw my post, she replied, and her reply was an eye-opener. She said she didn’t also know why I was having that challenge, but if we start engaging our posts more, perhaps the algorithm will start showing our messages more.
There you have it, another reason why engaging other people is paramount to your growth on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Beginner’sStep 5: Grow, Measure, Grow
If you apply what you’ve learnt so far, you’re all set up for LinkedIn growth.
The next step is to measure your growth as you go. See what is working for you and continue; then abandon what isn’t working and learn.
Show up on LinkedIn daily. There’ll always be something for you to learn.
Set a growth target for yourself. LinkedIn is an investment in your career; the results will always be there long after you achieve your short term goal for joining.
Join LinkedIn groups that are specific to your industry. Learn from these groups and also contribute when you’re there.
Follow company pages. Most company pages have engaging audiences and it’ll be a good way to mix yourself with new minds. You can follow my company’s page on LinkedIn where we share career growth content and recent vacancies for entry-level and mid-level professionals.
Finally, asides from building your network with people you know, go further and connect with your connection’s connections. (I explained how you can do this in the previous section).
LinkedIn Beginner’s Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Different Types of Connections on LinkedIn?
There are 3 types of connections on LinkedIn:
• First degree connections: These are the people you’ve sent a connection request to, and they accepted, or the people that sent to you and you’ve accepted. • Second-degree connections: They are the first-degree connections of your first-degree connections. That is, the other people who have also sent connection requests to your first-degree connections that they accepted, or the ones they sent to that accepted. • Third-degree connections: These are the first-degree connections of your second-degree connections.
Most times, the LinkedIn algorithm only shows your contents from this network of people (1-3 degree connections). In very rare cases they show you contents from people not in your network.
What Should I Post on LinkedIn?
Before you start making posts on LinkedIn, think of your purpose of joining LinkedIn. Create a theme around your purpose of joining the platform; the posts you make will most definitely revolve around it.
It could be;
• A new thing you learnt. • How your day in the office went. • Something to inspire others. • News. • Your view on a trending topic. • Events you are looking forward to. • Latest achievements. • Poll to know people’s opinion on two different topics. • Etc.
You can share everything that will engage your network. But please, no nudes, and contents unconnected to your profession,
When is the Best Time to Post on LinkedIn?
According to Impactplus, the safest times to post are Tuesday through Friday from 8 am- 2 pm.
While this is true to an extent, there are some reservations you should take into consideration:
• The best time to post on LinkedIn is highly dependent on your network. When is your network most active? Sometimes you can come to LinkedIn and see a post; at the top, you’ll see posted 4 hours ago, you see another and it’ll say posted 5 hours ago; when you see something like that, you should take note of that period. • Most activities on LinkedIn happen during the workdays in a week (Monday-Friday) and during work hours (8 am-4 pm). Hence your best time will fall into the hours when people have time to take a break and share/respond to posts on their darling LinkedIn.