Setting up a LinkedIn Account

LinkedIn focuses on professional networking, generating warm leads, and seeking and making business referrals. While other social networks are geared toward the “social” or more personal side of interacting with others, including making friends and playing games, LinkedIn zeros in on business interactions including accessing job listings, creating business opportunities and marketing yourself or your company. Individuals can set up personal accounts and join LinkedIn Groups while companies can create Company Pages or host their own Groups.

Your individual LinkedIn profile is your professional calling card online. Filling out your LinkedIn profile may take longer than most other social networks because it follows the format of a traditional resume. The more details you provide in your profile, the more effective it becomes. Having your actual resume on hand can speed up the sign up and profile editing process.

Your LinkedIn Introduction Card

LinkedIn profiles start with an “Introduction Card” that consists of many basic elements of a resume with additional multimedia including:

  • Name – LinkedIn specifies that you must use your true name.
  • Profile photo – LinkedIn recommends your photo be at least 200x200 pixels and states that profiles with photos get many more clicks and connections than those without.
  • Background photo – The recommended size for the background image is 1400 x 425 pixels.
  • Headline – This appears right below your name and in search results and can be separate from the title of your current position and highlight a specific expertise.
  • Current position – This is automatically populated based on what you’ve entered as your experience.
  • Education – You can add all your past education, however, sticking with post high school degrees is most common.
  • Location – LinkedIn shows your geographic region and not a specific city.
  • Industry – This is populated from the Experience section.
  • Contact info – You can include your email address, website, instant messenger and social media accounts, birth date, and customize the URL to your LinkedIn profile such as: http://www.linkedin.com/in/yourname
  • Summary – This statement can include your professional mission, motivation, and skills.

As you fill in your LinkedIn profile, you are shown the percentage of completion as a guide. Once your Introduction Card is completed, you can add more sections to your profile.

Additional LinkedIn Sections

The more information you add to LinkedIn, the more compelling it is and the more powerful a showcase it becomes for you. Other sections you can add after filling out your Introduction Card include:

  • Background
  • Skills
  • Accomplishments

In addition to a profile and background image, LinkedIn lets you upload additional images and files to showcase your work including PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and PDF files as well videos housed on YouTube. Adding visuals and additional content to your profile helps to set you apart from others in your industry.

Networking on LinkedIn

Once you’ve reached out to people you know on LinkedIn, you can message your Connections directly through LinkedIn’s email system. You need a Premium Subscription to contact someone not in your direct network using LinkedIn’s InMail.

The main ways to network on LinkedIn are through:

  • Connections: These are usually the people whom you actually know or have met and they can make introductions for you to their contacts when you make a request. When you first sign up for LinkedIn, you can sync your email account address book to add people you know to get you started.
  • Recommendations: Recommending someone else is a great way to strengthen your relationship with them. Ask others for a recommendation if they’ve worked with you in the past including clients, vendors and colleagues to enhance your LinkedIn profile.
  • Endorsements: Add skills to your profile that can then be validated by your 1st degree connections. When you visit a connection’s profile, you can also endorse them for their skills. This is a quick way to recognize someone else.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Join or start a Group on LinkedIn to communicate with other professionals on specific business-related topics.

LinkedIn also displays job listings, and if you have a Company Page, you can list your company’s job openings or advertise jobs throughout the LinkedIn network. Like Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn provides a self-serve ad platform.

Publishing on LinkedIn

There are a number of ways to publish content on LinkedIn. You can publish updates to your profile that are similar to Facebook posts that can be seen by your Connections with the most recent appearing on your Facebook profile. You have the option to sync your LinkedIn updates to automatically post to your Twitter account to expand your reach. To better manage your updates, you can use a third party tool such as Buffer to schedule messages that will post to your LinkedIn profile on specific days and time.

LinkedIn also offers a blogging feature where you can publish short or long form content using text, images and video. Your Connections are a built-in audience for your LinkedIn blog posts, and as with most blog posts, they can comment on what you’ve published as well as like and share your content on their own LinkedIn feed.

LinkedIn offers a 30-day trial of their premium account levels or you can opt for more limited tools by sticking with a free account.

Once you set up your personal LinkedIn account, you can create a presence for your business through a Company Page. LinkedIn is not only a powerful network for individuals but an ideal place for B2B marketing to reach companies, business owners and professionals.