Let's get right to the point. If you're a business professional, or a business, you need to be on LinkedIn. There are all sorts of statistics to back that up.
There are currently more than 400 million people on LinkedIn. Two new members join LinkedIn every second, and 40 percent of LinkedIn users check LinkedIn on a daily basis. The average CEO has 930 connections.
"Not using the power of LinkedIn could mean missing out on the next dream job or even the next best employee for your company," said Sandy Zeiszler, owner of MoxzClicks.com, and a Twin Cities-based LinkedIn consultant and trainer who wrote "Unlock LinkedIn to Get Hired," a step-by-step guidebook for job seekers. "Having a completely optimized and current LinkedIn profile is key for all business professionals, no matter where you are in your career."
JoAnne Funch, president of LinkedIn for Business, and a Twin Cities-based LinkedIn strategist and nationally known trainer and speaker, agreed.
"We're all being searched for online. This is simply how the professional world works these days," Funch said. "Your LinkedIn profile will show up high on all major search engines. That should be reason enough to pay attention to manage your online reputation."
So how can job seekers maximize the potential of LinkedIn? Start with a professional profile picture. Not a selfie or party photo, says Zeiszler. If you don't have an image your profile will lack professionalism and seem incomplete. Next, consider these quick tips from Greg Albrecht, a Twin Cities-based LinkedIn trainer and managing partner and founder at M&A Executive Search:
Connect to key influencers by joining groups in your profession and sharing info and answering questions on LinkedIn Groups.
Set up an automatic search on the Jobs drop-down to send you alerts for jobs being posted in your area of expertise and location.
Strive to connect with 500-plus contacts to increase your ability to connect with decisionmakers, and for networking opportunities.
Share updates weekly to get your name out there and to promote your profile.
To really stand out from the crowd on LinkedIn, craft a good headline that describes how you deliver value in your role. Then, follow these tips from Funch to add the right content to create a robust LinkedIn profile:
Video: Add a one- to two-minute video of yourself so people can get to know you. This gives you an opportunity to share what you are passionate about and why you would be a great hire. Speak to the employer about how you'll solve their problems or why you're the solution to the position they are trying to fill.
Multimedia: Enhance your profile with images, certifications, awards and recognitions, or other achievement-based information that goes beyond written profile information.
Graphics: Add a graphic header to the top of your profile that exemplifies your personal brand. This adds color and interest to your profile and is an opportunity to share something meaningful. One idea: Add a quote you live by.
Recommendations: As consumers, we read reviews to determine whether we will buy or not. The same holds true when hiring. "If you have six glowing recommendations vs. a candidate with none, it could be what edges someone out of consideration," Funch said.
By the way, if you are a military veteran, LinkedIn will give you a free premium subscription for one year. Looking for a new job but don't want your connections or employer to find out? LinkedIn recently rolled out a new feature called Open Candidates that privately signals to recruiters that you're open to new job opportunities.
Employers can also use LinkedIn to attract the next great hire and sell the company brand. By training employees to create dynamic LinkedIn profiles that tell their career story, employers automatically elevate their brand.
"Employers should think more like the marketing department in terms of attracting talent to the company," Funch said.
Employers should follow these additional tips:
• When writing posts or status updates, include images to catch the reader's attention.
• When reviewing potential candidates, look at the person's volunteer activity for signs of what the potential hire cares about.
• Look at the "skills and endorsements" to see the candidate's endorsements. Hover your cursor over an endorser's face; their name and title pop up, and you can see shared connections.
• Want to know how active candidates are on LinkedIn? Click the blue button to the right of their profile photo and click the down arrow until you see "view recent activity," where you will either discover they are not at all active or you will find articles, people and subjects they care about.
LinkedIn can be overwhelming. But it works — for job seekers and employers alike. Follow these tips for success.