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Leveraging LinkedIn to Supercharge your Career
Launched in 2003 and acquired by Microsoft in 2016, LinkedIn has grown into one of the premier professional social media websites in the world. Of its current roughly 610 million users in over 200 countries, about a quarter of LinkedIn users — 146 million – are located in the U.S. Keep in mind that of the 326 million people in the U.S., about 157 million are employed. So one could deduce that most working people are on LinkedIn. And for those wondering how many of those 610 million are “regular users”, note that LinkedIn has 260 million “monthly unique active users”. That’s about 44%. There’s no way to know how many of the active users are in the U.S. vs. the rest of the world, but one could speculate that the percentage of U.S. users is likely somewhat higher than those in other countries. That means that probably at least half of all U.S. workers on active on LinkedIn every month. That is a HUGE potential network.
If the size of the network is not compelling enough, then consider its strength. Of the 610 million people on LinkedIn, 61 million users are senior level influencers and an additional 40 million are in decision-making positions. There are also 87 million Millennials on LinkedIn, of which 11 million are in decision-making positions. As of this year, 44% of Linked users earn more than $75,000 in a year. So networking on LinkedIn is just good business sense for most professionals.
So how does a professional make the most of LinkedIn? First, it is important to understand what is required to make the most of LinkedIn. To grow and nurture a professional network on LinkedIn requires time, tenacity, tact, voice and commitment.
Things to Do on LinkedIn
1. Build a network of contacts
Connect with people who are either in the same industry or industries, share similar interests or run in the same circles. Connect with those who offer insights into areas or topics about which you want to learn more. By connecting to such people, you find others who also fit that profile. Invite them to connect as well. But keep in mind that building a network on LinkedIn in a marathon, not a sprint. The idea isn’t to fill a network with warm bodies. The idea is to cultivate a cadre of people who can add value. For example, a woman who is CEO of a company in the area of lending for education might want to network with other women in leadership, with people in the fields of banking, lending, finance and education, and people who are involved in higher education.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn only allows a person to have a maximum of 30,000 connections, but a person can be “followed” by an unlimited number of people. So instead of connecting with every person who asks, choose connections carefully and ask people who want to see your content to follow instead. For example, space and aviation magnate Sir Richard Branson has nearly 16 million followers. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has over 20 million followers and former GE CEO Jack Welch has over 7 million followers. What these business tycoons realized early on is that 30,000 contacts is a drop in the bucket of people who want to ‘connect’ with them. So they cultivated their connections carefully – the key part of that word being cull – and speak to a broader audience by encouraging followers. That is an excellent philosophy, and a good one to use even for those who are just aspiring industry moguls.
2. Contribute posts and articles
For most people, writing is easy. Writing well is harder. And writing clearly, concisely and coherently takes work. Each area on LI has its own space/character limit. So it is easier to know from the get go just how much space there is before beginning to write. The most common way that people participate on LinkedIn is by commenting on posts. It is all well and good to “Like”, “Share” and “Comment” on other people’s posts. However, contributing original content is considerably better. For those who prefer to write shorter tidbits, posts can be up to 1,200 characters. Articles can be much longer, up to 120,000 characters. Posts get traction on other people’s feed, but articles do not. However, articles get SEO traction while posts do not. Consider that as you decide what you want to achieve.
There are also restrictions on most other spaces on your LI page. Here’s a list to help stay within the space allotments.
- First name: 20 characters
- Last name: 40 characters
- Your Headline: 120 characters
- About us/Summary: 2,000 characters
- A job/position headline: 100 characters
- A job/position description: 1000 characters
- Company name: 100 characters
- Company description: 1500 characters
- Website URL: 256 characters
- Page name: 50 characters
- Company leader description: 150 characters
- Employee testimonials: 400 characters
- Recommendation: 3,000 characters
- LinkedIn Publishing post headline: 150 characters
3. Network with LinkedIn Users wherever you go
At the next networking event, conference or trade show you attend, turn on the Find Nearby function to discover other LinkedIn users in attendance. To do that, turn on the Bluetooth capability on your mobile phone. Click on the My Network icon. It is located at the top of the screen. Click on Find Nearby status. This features the profiles of people within 100 feet or so who activated the Find Nearby function on their LinkedIn app. By doing that, you can view each person’s profile and learn a bit about them. This will make it much easier to introduce yourself and start up a conversation. It is also possible to send that person a message directly through LinkedIn to say “I’m at the event too.”
4. Leverage your QR Code to connect
Most people don’t even know that their profile generates a QR (Quick Response) code. The LinkedIn QR code is a barcode that pulls up your profile when scanned. To access your QR code, click on the icon that looks like four squares in the search bar. You will see options to scan or share a QR code. You can download your code and keep it open on your phone to make things easier.
Then you can show your QR code to someone you aren’t connected with and they can scan it using their LinkedIn mobile app. Your profile will appear on their phone so they can invite you to connect.
The QR Code can also be embedded in an email, added to a business card, added to a signature block, placed as part of a VR card on a website, etc.
5. Spread some “Kudos”
Thank someone publicly by using the “Give Kudos” feature on your LinkedIn mobile app. Go to the profile of the person you are thanking or praising. Click on the More box and then on Give Kudos. Here are the options:
- Thank you
- Going Above and Beyond
- Great Job
- Great Presentation
- Making an Impact
- Making Work Fun
- Outside the Box Thinker
- Team Player
- Inspirational Leader
- Amazing Mentor
The status update can be customized. Once shared, the kudos will appear as a publicly viewable status on your profile and will tag the recipient so they can see it. You can only give kudos to people you are connected with, and there is a limit of three kudos per week. So don’t squander a week by not giving any. This is a great way to thank a direct report for a job well done, a client for a deal, a colleague for going above and beyond or a boss for being awesome. It is also a great way to give a virtual pat on the back without having to write a recommendation.
6. Share your stories or wisdom with video
If you’ve got something to say and writing is not your thing, LinkedIn allows you to post video as a status update, and now there is even a live video streaming option. In the mobile app, look for the Share box at the top of the feed or the Post button and tap on the Video icon. It’s that simple. Either record a video in the app or upload a clip recorded earlier. The content doesn’t even have to include you or be about you. It can be clips taken at a conference, footage from a presentation, a video of how a task is done by a company expert, or any myriad of things you think your network would want to “see for themselves.”
Next week, we will look at the things to avoid doing on LinkedIn that might keep you from getting the most out of the biggest professional network in the world. Stay tuned.
Quote of the Week
“Among the social networks, LinkedIn can be one of the most useful when it comes to cultivating critical, lucrative business opportunities, since it has a high concentration of business decision makers.”
April 23, 2019, Smith, Craig, DMR Business Statistics and Fun Gadgets, 220 Amazing LinkedIn Statistics and Facts, By the Numbers, https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats/
 January 6, 2019, Linkedin by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts, Omnicore, https://www.omnicoreagency.com/linkedin-statistics/
© 2019, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.