Dec 18

Getting Value from LinkedIn

Running a small business is hard work. In addition to actually plying your skills, there’s a bunch of administrative effort that you probably either never expected or underestimated before you launched your business. So, why would you add engaging in a social network like LinkedIn into your workload?


LinkedIn is a business-focussed social network that is designed to “connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful… by access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do”.

The trouble with social networking is that the “best” or most poplar social network changes every couple of years. For a time MySpace was important but it faded away as Facebook and Twitter¬†took over. Now it’s Pinterest and Tumblr. Tomorrow – it could be something we’ve never heard of.

Why bother with LinkedIn?

Here are three reasons.

1 – You never know who your next job will come from

LinkedIn is, at its heart, a network. Remember the game “Six Degrees of Separation” – LinkedIn can connect you to people you might not get the opportunity to meet in the real world. And those people might need your services.

2 – It’s educational

LinkedIn is a great place to learn what’s happening in your industry. You can follow companies and join group discussions about topics of interest.

3 – It’s a global job board

Lots of jobs are advertised on LinkedIn – both short and long term. Look at the job boards and follow discussions to hear about positions that are being formally offered or opportunities to offer your services.

What can you do to ensure that you get the most from LinkedIn?

There are a few things you can do to ensure that LinkedIn delvers the information you need.

1 – Keep your profile up to date

Spend some time to update your profile. Think about the words you use to describe yourself. If there have been shifts in the language and terminology used in your industry over time, update your position titles to match current terminology. For example, if you were a “Human Resources” consultant, you might find you need to use the words “People and Culture” in order to modernise your description.

2 – Use a catchy tagline

On your LinkedIn profile, there’s a section for your “Professional Headline”. Rather than using a generic job title, use words that describe you more accurately so that people can find you and recognise your skills. For example, I could use “freelance writer” but I prefer “writer + presenter + facilitator + journalist + consultant”. That helps people find me and understand what I do.

3 – Use a proper photo

Many people set up LinkedIn but don’t want to use a photo. Regardless of what people say, first impressions count. If you’re a serious business person, caricatures or pictures of a favourite cartoon character aren’t likely to portray you as a professional.

LinkedIn provide some advice on creating an effective profile. While that is focussed on job-seeking, it’s worth reading to give some guidance.


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