Leveraging LinkedIn

One of the most underutilised social platforms for career expansion is the wonder that is LinkedIn. It is a centralised hub that hosts your potential next client, employer, recruiter, thought leaders and HR professionals. It allows for colleagues across the globe to connect and share ideas, for head-hunters to effectively recruit staff; for thought leaders to share their opinions; for strangers to connect in business; offer career data on individuals and organisations to share their views.

It is then a natural arena for you to gain the correct visibility in your chosen industry. This can be done by publishing thought-provoking articles in your status or participating in groups where you can actively share your views. You can also engage actively in discussions and commentary that arises in content published by others.

You can also access people you ordinarily would not have access to by using centres of influence which in essence are people who are natural connectors and have power to both validate and vouch for you allows your network to expand. Using LinkedIn as a platform to initiate these relationships and leveraging centres of influence to expand your network is a strategic move.

You can position yourself as a thought leader, an industry expert or desirable candidate using the platform. I have noticed that many people don’t pay attention to their profile which is paying themselves and their career a great disservice. It is critical you cover a few basics with your LinkedIn profile in order to leverage its maximum potential as a career enabler.

The first is to have a profile picture. Not having a picture doesn’t evoke trust in people who may want to engage with you and may make others assume your account is dormant. People do business with people, so having a face to associate a name with helps establish connection. Make sure your profile picture is a professional headshot, not selfies or pictures with an inappropriate background. This, afterall, is a professional platform that many people in business will initially engage when looking to interact with you.

The second step is to use the correct terms and keywords to highlight your core skills and expertise in the headline section. The third is to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date. Your profile is a living curriculum vitae that allows you to highlight your accomplishments, publications that feature you, volunteer work, experience, skills and endorsements from your peers and education. As such be as comprehensive as possible in your inputs to your profile. Including granular details when highlighting your skills helps everyone engaging your profile know the capability you possess.

LinkedIn is a social media platform, as such, it works on the basis of interacting and connecting with others. This allows for networking outside of ordinary business hours. It is thus imperative you are proactive in creating and sharing content that is relevant both to your existing and desired target audience. It also aids in improving your industry expertise by following companies you’re interested in as well as potential clients.

In doing this you can learn trends that they face and challenges that impact them which you can offer solutions to. It also allows you to be able to keep a pulse on your industry and ensure you remain relevant in the ever-changing world of business. Do not neglect the opportunity to effectively leverage LinkedIn. Vumi is a South African-born career coach, international speaker and CEO of Hesed Consulting, a consulting firm specialising in career coaching, leadership acceleration, women empowerment, team dynamics, facilitation and training on the African continent.

In this article:
Vumile Msweli
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