LinkedIn: The One New Year's Resolution You Can Keep!

Maximize the power of LinkedIn with these winning strategies from LinkedIn Partner Program Lead for Europe, Middle East and Africa Hilal Koc 03C.

By Hilal Koc 03C
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It’s that time of year again; most of us are making New Year’s resolutions. Most of which are tough to stick to. But here’s one that will be easy to maintain: Create a credible online professional presence on LinkedIn. No matter what profession you’re in, want to be in, or even if you are happily unemployed, people are Google-ing you, so you have two options. Let them find:

Know your audience.

Do you know who is looking at your LinkedIn profile?

1) Random links/pictures that may or may not be you, as well as a Facebook profile with a picture and more likely than not, an old employer

2) An accurate, up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a professional picture and account of your career aspirations

For those of you who want to take control of your online identity, I recommend the following essential 8 steps:

Unclick “Notify your Network?” This will ensure your network isn’t notified of every minor change/update to your profile. When you feel you are ready, it is a good idea to choose "notify your network" if you want others to see your updates in their newsfeed.

Choose a Great Photo. Simple but necessary. Profiles with friendly, professional pictures get clicked on 11x more than those that do not. They also elicit trust and honesty with recruiters and coworkers. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a headshot; it can be an “action” shot, but just make sure it’s a picture you’d be fine seeing on the cover of the Wall Street Journal.

Write a Headline That Rocks. Your headline doesn’t have to be your job title and company—in fact, especially if you’re looking for jobs, it shouldn’t be. Instead, use that space to succinctly showcase your specialty, value proposition, or your “so what?” The more specific you can be about what sets you apart from the competition, the better. Include keywords or the different aspects of your career, for example – “Entrepreneur, Advisor.”

These are example LinkedIn headlines.

Write a headline that rocks! Who are you? Let profile viewers understand your strengths.

Describe your Past Positions. This should be easy but I can sympathize that it’s more difficult than it looks. Here’s are a few tips that will help:

-Do a search for your current/past position(s) and use job descriptions for similar positions as inspiration.

-Feel free to look at old colleagues’ role descriptions from their LinkedIn profiles.

-Descriptions do need to be long or bulleted – whatever suits you and your industry. Just make sure you feel confident the reader – a recruiter or colleague – is clear on what your experiences are/were.

-Include numbers as much as possible to quantify your accomplishments and make it easier to read and relate to your experiences.

-Keep it brief – descriptions are not meant to be exhaustive lists of job activities.

-Add multimedia – a picture, Slideshare, or video is worth a thousand words! Add your company websites, projects you’ve worked on or articles you’ve written.

-Optional: Include a sentence or two about the company. This is particularly important if you’ve had experience abroad and the company is small/a start-up that may not be recognizable, or if you are looking to change industries/sectors.

hilal Koc 03C

Hilal Koc 03C offers advice on how to maximize the LinkedIn experience.

Now Write that Summary. I’ve left this to the end intentionally, as it tends to be difficult to summarize your experiences or goals in a few sentences. Ideally, the summary should be brief – no more than 1 to 2 paragraphs – walking a reader through your work passions, key skills, qualifications and your career over the years. Most importantly – use the first person, “I,” not your first name or last name – LinkedIn provides you the opportunity to be more personal and the summary should be written by you.

Request a LinkedIn Recommendation. Recommendations are critical in establishing credibility and differentiating yourself from colleagues and competitors. Recruiters certainly take them into account, too, and the beauty is that you have so much more control than hidden recommendations preferred by universities. Here are a few tips:

  • Review your connection list and start requesting brief recommendations sooner rather than later to give recommenders time.
  • Always make sure you provide your recommender a few bullets as to what you would like to highlight – especially if it’s been awhile since you worked together.
  • Don’t be afraid to cut a recommendation if you feel it is not well-written, it wasn’t solicited or if you don’t feel comfortable requesting revisions. You can easily hide the recommendation instead. Select Profile > Edit Profile and go to the position with which the recommendation is associated. Click Manage. Uncheck the box next to the recommendation that you want to hide, and click Save Changes.

Add the Finishing Touches. Be sure to add Volunteer Experiences, Certifications or Languages to differentiate you. Lastly, manage your Endorsements by choosing the skills you’d like to be known for first and identifying them on your profile.

Connect Away! LinkedIn provides algorithm-based recommendations for connections but you should definitely be proactive. Having fewer than 100 connections, even if it is early in your career, gives the impression you  are a recluse who knows very few people, are paranoid about connecting with others, or technology/social media scares you. None of these are good. Reach out to professors, past colleagues, professional acquaintances, or people you have networked with. A word of caution here: you should know the person you are connecting with. This means you’ve met in person, worked together, or connected over email to the point you would feel comfortable emailing this person again.

LinkedIn for Advanced Users

Stand Out logo

Now for the more advanced or for those actively searching for jobs and hoping to stand out to recruiters, I recommend the following  two additional steps:

Be a Groupie/Follower. LinkedIn Groups are a great resource—by joining groups relevant to your industry; you’ll show that you’re engaged in your field. But more importantly, you’ll instantly be connected to people and part of relevant discussions in your field—kind of like an ongoing, online networking event. You should also begin following companies that are relevant to your field or those that you are seeking employment with to stay on top of relevant updates.

Make Sure People Can Find You. Don’t forget to add your email address (or blog, or Twitter handle, or anywhere else you’d like to be found) to the contact information section of your resume. You’d be surprised how many people leave this off!

Ready to Learn More? Join the Webinar Tuesday, February 9!

For more information on your LinkedIn profile and how it can help set you up for success, I will be hosting a webinar exclusively for Emory alumni on Tuesday, February 9 2016.

For more details on how to join, please visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6777696808431620354

Editor's Note: Hilal Koc writes in her summary on LinkedIn: "I have 10+ years of experience working with leaders of all stripes -- from start-up founders to seasoned vets at the helm of established organizations -- to work through pressing challenges and pursue promising opportunities. I operate as an internal thought/action partner, advisor and external advocate by providing insight on growth & optimization, strategy and financial planning.

Highly adaptable and comfortable operating globally, I have advised companies in the US, Europe, Russia and India, and am now privileged to be part of the LinkedIn team. As part of our Marketing Solutions business, I focus on scaling the growth of our content, ads & adtech partnerships across Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

San Francisco native, London transplant by way of Istanbul, Buenos Aires & NYC."