Article | Getting Started with LinkedIn

You probably must have heard that recently LinkedIn was acquired by Microsoft, which prompted a lot of people to dust off their LinkedIn profiles to be ready for whatever revelation the tech giant has in store for the platform. But LinkedIn should be your key networking tool regardless of who owns it- with 433 million users, LinkedIn is currently the biggest social media platform for professionals in the world. In other words, this is where your future bosses, clients and business partners are. And we will help you join them with this ‘Getting started with LinkedIn’ introduction.

Why do I need a LinkedIn profile?

Every time somebody asks me this question, my answer is instantaneous: because without LinkedIn, you will miss out on being offered a job or finding a new customer base. Whilst in Germany, Austria and Switzerland an alternative networking platform called Xing has a much bigger market share, key international companies and the rest of the world use LinkedIn. That alone should get you seriously thinking about joining it!

Starting your LinkedIn journey

When you log into your account, you will be greeted by a simple layout with a user-friendly menu and a clean information feed providing you with recent updates from your network. There is also a small box sat in between menu and the feed, which includes a snippet of your profile analytics and three buttons for quick sharing of updates, photos, and article publishing.

Many people like to think of LinkedIn as “Facebook for professionals”, but the update feed should never be treated the same way. Remember that while Facebook is your personal social media, on LinkedIn, you are showing your business face. Photos of pugs, albeit extremely cute, will not do.

Let’s click through to your actual profile. Unlike any other network, LinkedIn requires you to fill in a lot of personal information to boost your profile to an all-star level. This mystical ranking tool not only reminds you what needs to be done to get your profile up to speed- but it also rewards you back by increasing your organic visibility in searches. Not to mention that a well-kept LinkedIn profile will work to your advantage when people visit it. You can read more about the benefits of taking your profile to the next level here.

First of all, before you start making any changes to your profile, make sure you turn off the “Notify your network option. To do so, go to your profile and scroll down to see the last box on the right-hand side panel – there will be a toggle switch asking you whether you want your network notified of any updates to your profile. Select ‘No’.

As said previously, LinkedIn is an extension of your CV. Having an updated CV can give you an idea of what you want to put into your online profile and what you can add extra to maximize on the LinkedIn features.

LinkedIn profile basics

  • Profile picture– Use a professional photo rather than a blurred selfie. The ideal photo size is 400×400 pixels.
  • Your headline – This is the title showing under your name at the top of your profile. I have seen users adding in their official job titles, as well as ‘Social Media Wizard’. Always use keywords that describe your job accurately because the headline is searchable and is attached to your name whenever you interact on LinkedIn users- make sure it sums up your job at a first glance.
  • Location and Industry – These two options will help LinkedIn classify you into categories when somebody searches for, let’s say digital marketers in Vienna. Having your current location listed on your profile also means people reaching out to you to offer you local opportunities.
  • Unique URL -Instead of having a random string of numbers and letters, you can customize your URL to include your name and surname.
  • Summary – This box containing a maximum of 2000 characters is your elevator pitch. Introduce yourself the way you would during a networking event. This particular section allows you to add media (presentation, video, links, visual etc.) so if you want, you can make it interactive.
  • Experience – This is where you will input your professional or work-related experience. You can either opt for chronological order or prepare a skill-based portfolio. The same CV rules apply here: be concise, provide results and statistics, use keywords, add media and space chunks of text so it is easier to digest. You can also upload media (video, link, document) and showcase your work visually.
  • Education
  • Languages – Aside from listing languages you can speak, it is also possible to demonstrate your language knowledge by having a duplicate LinkedIn profile in that particular language. To do so, click on the black arrow next to the ‘View profile as’ blue button on your profile and select the option “‘Create profile in another language”.

Go beyond the basics

Completing the minimum profile requirements above will be a start, but the more information you include, the closer you get to an all-star profile. To get to that level, you will have to be a bit more generous when it comes to sharing details of any additional education, experience, projects as well as causes you care about. Only 51% of LinkedIn profiles are completed, so going beyond the basics gives you a competitive advantage.

  • Volunteering
  • Publications– Extremely useful section for researchers and scientists.
  • Projects– If you finished a team project at work or did a small job and do not feel like including it in your work experience, add it to this section. Bonus: you can add team members as long as they are your connections on LinkedIn.
  • Skills and Endorsements– Your connections can endorse you for certain skills you have added to your profile, and you can endorse them back. More about endorsements below.
  • Interests
  • Awards
  • Certifications

Being active on LinkedIn

Once you have your profile filled in, start participating in the community! The most important reason you are on LinkedIn to start off with is to connect with people. You can connect with your current and previous co-workers, colleagues, friends, and schoolmates. The more people in your network the wider your circle of 2nd and 3rd-degree connections is, which leads to higher ranking amongst other specialists in the same field. Start by building a base of people you have already met and worked with, ask for references to improve your own profile and seek new potential contacts.

You should join groups of professionals within your industry – not only can you get insight on the type of work you do from colleagues abroad, but you can also explore work opportunities in international markets. This could also be a way of showing your expertise and earning credibility within your industry- by belonging to a specialised group, you dig deeper into your industry and create a net of things you have in common with other professionals. To find relevant select ‘Interests’ on the main menu and then ‘Groups’. LinkedIn allows you to explore groups from the same industry based on your profile’s information -this is why it is better to complete the profile before you start socialising.

Endorsements of skills are also a great way of keeping in touch with your network. Whilst endorsements are not as credible as references, they are an innocent poke aimed at your contacts to remind them of your existence. Chances are that the person you endorsed will visit your profile again.

Well done! You have just taken your first step towards owning an awesome LinkedIn profile.