When you think about LinkedIn with your company hat on, you likely think it’s for marketing execs. And when you look at LinkedIn through an HR lens, your thoughts immediately go to talent acquisition, not talent development.
It’s time for a mindset reset. If you think LinkedIn is only a place for sourcing leads or staffing a department, you’re stuck in 2003. Today, LinkedIn is replete with features to help your talent learn, grow, and advance in their career. A broad array of skills is required for success, and many of them can be mastered and developed through LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows career-minded professionals to deliver a powerful first impression, learn best practices, expand their network, hone their technical and leadership capabilities, and expand their thought-leadership—that is, when they know how to use it.
Not long ago, many companies banned access to LinkedIn and other social media internally for fear that employees would waste company time or use LinkedIn to find a job elsewhere. Today, forward-thinking companies see LinkedIn as a tool for engaging and retaining their staff. In fact, more than half of my work as a public speaker and trainer last year was focused on helping people use LinkedIn to rocket their career internally and deliver greater value to their team and their company.
As an ambitious L&D professional, you can advance your career by amping up your own LinkedIn savvy and fully understanding the impact of this unique social media tool. The best way to tap LinkedIn as a talent development resource is to become your company’s LinkedIn expert. Here’s how:
Step 1. Get Your Profile in OrderEven in companies with robust intranets, employees use Google to learn about their colleagues and leaders. So it’s essential that you deliver a powerful first impression—one that’s in line with your real-world personal brand. The good news is that your LinkedIn profile is likely to show up at the top of a Google search, so you need only focus on that profile. To maximize it, spend your time on the big three:
- Headline: Your headline needs to be more than your job title and company. It needs to make people want to know more.
- Headshot: Your headshot should be taken by a professional photographer, and about 60-80 percent of the frame should feature your face, looking directly at the camera so that you’re making eye contact with the viewers.
- Summary: A summary that just describes your current job will be ineffective. The summary is the place where you tell your story and get people to want to learn more about you. It will probably be the most-read version of your professional bio. In addition to the facts—your career progression and accomplishments—you need to share your values, passions, strengths, and other things that will allow readers to connect with you on an emotional level.
You can’t maximize the value of LinkedIn if your profile is mediocre. So make it the stellar digital version of the stellar real-world you. Once you have, it’s time for Step 2.
Step 2. Build Your Networking StrategyLinkedIn represents the largest community of ambitious professionals with members approaching a billion. That makes it the perfect place to build your network. To fully experience the community aspect of LinkedIn, be sure to:
Establish your connections strategy. Ignore the LinkedIn advice to only connect with people you know. But that doesn’t mean you need to accept every connection request you receive, either. Come up with your own criteria for adding people to your connections. You might choose things like “they work in talent development” or “they work is the biotech industry.”
Join groups. LinkedIn groups are digital professional associations. They’re the space where you learn and grow. You can benchmark processes, learn best practices, and keep the saw sharp in your area of expertise when you become an active participant in groups that will help you move your career forward.
Step 3. Build Thought-Leadership and Engage on a Deeper LevelThis is where the magic happens. LinkedIn allows you to share your expertise and interact with other professionals. The LinkedIn blogging platform gives you the opportunity to share your point of view and engage in meaningful discussions that will help you grow your career while you deliver greater value to your colleagues, your manager, and your organization.
If you aren’t ready to write your own content, commenting on others’ content lets you express your point of view and become part of the conversation. Sharing content you find elsewhere on the web, including the content created by your company’s communications department, allows you to provide value to your connections and fellow group members. It’s one of the most powerful ways to nurture your network.
Ready to become your company’s LinkedIn expert? Determine where you are with your LinkedIn profile and networking strategy with this LinkedIn quiz.