How to get started on LinkedIn

If you are just getting started with your business and think you should be on LinkedIn, you are right. I have been asked recently to mentor a couple of solo businesswomen through the process of creating a profile on this global networking site.

It can seem a bit daunting but probably the most difficult part is deciding that you are going to make yourself visible. Assuming you have got past that barrier, (took me about six months but that’s not a guide – just a confession), here are some steps to get you started.

Before you begin you will need:

  • A recent, hi-res, close-up professional picture of your face – think passport with panache
  • A written list of all your achievements, job record, awards and qualifications
  • A strong password (I would not recommend signing in via Twitter or Facebook as this can create security cracks.)

Once you have joined and signed in, you will be invited to create your profile:

1. Position

This will show up every time you connect, comment or show up in a search, so make it count. Remember, LinkedIn is more aspirational than historical so it’s okay to talk about what you are going to be rather than the traditional what you have been.

2. Summary

This is your chance to let people know your story. It’s not about bragging; it’s about making what is unique about you clear to others so they can make an informed choice. Remember, your career is an offer you make to the world. This is your offer.

3. First or third person?

You may feel more comfortable writing about yourself from the outside, but speaking with your own voice and using ‘I’ is more direct and sounds much more like a personal conversation, so it is easier to make a connection. If you are still worried about sounding too self-absorbed you can write about what you believe in, what you would like to change or support in the world. This puts the focus on your capabilities and passions.

4. Keep it short and snappy

People spend an average of 20 seconds reading stuff on the web (this figure varies depending on the type of site, but be aware it is a Very Short Attention Span or VSAS) so keep both your sentences and your content short: about two well-spaced paragraphs.

5. Call to action

End your summary with a line on what the reader can do next, for example, visit your site, email you or read your blog. Contact details are on your page but the reader might have to look for it or scroll back, and the likelihood is that they are not going to do that. Make it easy for them to get in touch or read your book or whatever it is you would like them to do next.

6. Completing

You can go back and edit and add to your profile at any time. LinkedIn will prompt you to complete areas and suggest all kinds of improvements. For now, you can save what you have done and start connecting. Happy linking!

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