To thrive in an online world means taking control of your professional brand and one of the best ways to do this is to have a powerful LinkedIn profile. With more than one million Kiwi members, over 40% of the New Zealand workforce is on LinkedIn.
Making sure you have a great “professional brand” on LinkedIn can help you get ahead.
Here are 4 tips on how you can do just that from Julian Smith, Westpac’s Head of Corporate Strategy & Development.
SEE ALSO: LinkedIn: by the numbers
Understand you’ll be researched and take control
If you’re thinking of advancing your career or joining a new team or company, it’s almost inevitable that someone will conduct a simple online search to learn more about you. Chances are you’ve probably already “Googled” your boss, a colleague, or a competitor. If you have never Googled yourself, do it right now – you might be very surprised (and concerned) to see what shows up.
To prospective employers, recruiters and executive search firms,– if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you don’t exist. The more senior your role, the more critical this is.
The great thing about LinkedIn is you call the shots; you choose your own headshot, define your bio and decide what career and achievement history you would like to share. It’s a public version of your CV – so take control of it and make sure it represents you well.
Be a “LinkedIn All Star”
Complete as much of your profile as you can. If you want people to know about you and see you as “talent”– then you have to give them the information they are looking for.
Think of your LinkedIn page as your own professional website – showcasing you as the product. You will have by-passed websites when you are looking for something, because they were unclear, poorly presented or didn’t have the information you needed. Your LinkedIn profile is the same – a complete, well considered profile sends a positive message about your professionalism. An incomplete profile does the opposite.
As a minimum, you need:
- A good headshot of you in a professional context.
- A couple of sentences in your “summary” about who you are, what you do, and why you are good at it.
- A summary of your employment history including your responsibilities and achievements.
- How someone can contact you (if no one can contact you, you will never be head-hunted).
Recognise you are a brand
You may have impressive qualifications and a fantastic skill set but they amount to nothing without a great professional reputation. This is your “professional brand”, it’s what you are known for. Make sure your LinkedIn profile represents you well.
Contributing or sharing content and comments on your area of expertise will help you strengthen your brand and get your name in front of your network in a positive way. Share content that you think will be of value to your connections and aim to do this at least once a week to be “top of mind” – but don’t overdo it. People rapidly lose interest in material that is not of interest to them.
Build and support your network
Make sure you proactively build your connections on LinkedIn. Connect with colleagues, friends, family and professional associates. Think of your connections as your professional database of people who can help you (and vice versa) in your career.
Make it a habit to connect with people when you meet them for the first time and where possible, try and personalise your “connection request” on LinkedIn – it’ll set you apart and strengthen the relationship.
Lastly, support your network; it takes time for people to write and contribute valuable content. If you read something of benefit “like” or “share” it. Be responsive, if someone from your network reaches out to you with a request, help them out. You never know when you might need a favour in return.
SEE ALSO: LinkedIn: by the numbers
Julian Smith is Westpac’s Head of Corporate Strategy & Development. When he's not working, he can usually be found planting trees on a gorgeous 10 acre block in Matakohe, Northland, NZ (dealing with all that carbon foot print guilt!).