Posted on: August 18, 2022
There are many ways to grow your professional network, but in my experience, LinkedIn is by far one of the easiest paths to take. More than 830 million people use LinkedIn, and they flock from over 200 countries and territories. This isn’t rocket science.
But LinkedIn also has a lot of untapped potential. Social media platforms like Facebook lay claim to billions of users, meaning that LinkedIn can still expand its user base and current offerings. Not only that but there are many LinkedIn users who don’t access the platform on a daily basis, as they would with Twitter or TikTok. In many cases, LinkedIn pages go unchanged for months or even years. Some even lack headshots, which is a personal pet peeve.
I only bring up LinkedIn’s potential because I believe it will play a more and more pivotal role in the world of work. In my PR business, I see the power of LinkedIn on a daily basis. I’ve come across new prospects and paying clients on the platform. It is a place to not only grow your network with new connections and followers but also differentiate yourself from everyone else who does what you do—or close to it. For thought leaders who are experts on a particular topic, LinkedIn is an opportunity to tout that expertise. It is a one-stop-shop for thought leadership, PR, business development, branding, advertising and personal connecting.
In the old days, the art of connecting was on display in person. It played to our social sensibilities at the bar or over a cup of coffee. While those forms of connection are still important today (especially in a post-pandemic world), professional networks like LinkedIn can approximate traditional networking and empower people to reach brand-new audiences worldwide. You’re not confined to the cafe next door or the bar nearby—the world is literally your oyster.
If you’re not using LinkedIn, you’re missing out on new connections and followers. You’re allowing potential career opportunities to go to waste. Most people understand that networking is important to career success, but many fail to harness the full power of LinkedIn. Whether it’s a matter of anxiety, laziness or general lack of know-how, now is the time to reach your networking potential.
It’s important to check your LinkedIn feed every day. Keep your profile updated on a regular basis (and, yes, find a picture that flatters you). Look at it this way: Why do you “need” to look up TikTok videos or memes on Twitter, but you don’t need to check in on your professional network? Doesn’t your career pay the bills, after all?
For LinkedIn users new and old, it all starts with your “About” section. This is where you tell your professional story. This is your brand. Ask yourself: What am I about? The goal is to make yourself personable and relatable, while also conveying a sense of competence and professionalism. Bring up details about your childhood or educational background that have made you the professional you are today. Look at yourself like a business owner providing services to clients. Own your personal business, your brand. Provide examples of your deliverables, such as “content creation” or “data analysis.” Go into specifics about your areas of expertise. Don’t be too shy to promote yourself. If you won’t, then who will?
The “About” section is prime real estate for showing that you are an interesting person with an interesting story to tell. The idea is to give other people the talking points they need to repeat your story to others. Never forget that “word of mouth” is the most powerful form of marketing. However, you should be careful about sounding too much like a telemarketer. Try to avoid commonly used (and overused) expressions like “bottom-line-oriented” and “success-driven.” That should go without saying.
Here’s how my “About” section begins: “I’ll never forget the thrill I felt at age 25 when a story I’d pitched landed on page one of the Wall Street Journal. There was even one of those cool pencil drawings to go with it.”
My hope is to pull people in without typical business jargon. Make your LinkedIn profile authentically you, and that authenticity will manifest itself as charisma. People will be drawn to you.
As LinkedIn grows, we should all strive to grow along with it. Come visit the gold mine. Stay a while. Grow your professional network, and your career will reap the rewards!
This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in June 2022.