LinkedIn is going nowhere - 3 top tips to use it effectively

With over 400 million users at the time of the sale, LinkedIn wasn’t exactly a small fry when Microsoft acquired it for a cool £18.5 billion – its biggest ever cash purchase. Now up to around 500 million users, it’s the single biggest network of professionals on the planet.

Now that it’s under Microsoft’s remit, LinkedIn is going to come to the forefront of business communications. Microsoft is currently rolling out LinkedIn contact information in Outlook, so that when you view someone’s contact card, you’ll see information from their profile and (if you’re not already connected on the business social network) have the option to connect with them natively within Outlook.

Further down the line, LinkedIn will be an essential integration within Dynamics CRM, NAV and 365. By not using LinkedIn, Microsoft wants you to know that you’re missing out.

500 million – the amount of users on LinkedIn.

I run all of TSG’s social media accounts (say hello to me on Twitter!) so it’d be hypocritical of me not to have a presence on them myself. I was a very early adopter of Twitter, I joined Facebook whilst at school, and got on Instagram as soon as I gave up on BlackBerry’s OS (sob). But, full disclosure, I only joined LinkedIn when the reality of graduating hit me; when I realised that I had to find A Proper Job™ instead of spending 12 hours a day in the library (no really, I did). LinkedIn seemed an obvious solution to the social media geek within me. Then – I hold my hands up again – I only found myself monitoring and updating my LinkedIn profile when I was jobhunting.

Even since joining TSG I’ve convinced myself that I need to focus on the TSG Company Page only; what does my profile matter? More than I thought, actually.

Myself and 11 of my colleagues – Account Directors, Product Specialists and Business Development Managers – attended a LinkedIn training course last week. Even as the designated “social media person” at TSG I was excited about the opportunity to learn and improve; and learn and improve I certainly did. Here are my key takeaways from my training:

1. Don’t neglect your profile

Some people see LinkedIn as a CV and nothing more. It’s how I saw it for a little while; a CV for the digital age. But it’s so much more than that. Sure, a key purpose of LinkedIn is recruitment and finding new jobs, but it’s not the only purpose.

LinkedIn is all about making connections – they could be colleagues, customers, suppliers, people you admire, people you used to work with…the list goes on. You can connect to these people for a myriad of reasons; keeping in touch, following a person’s updates, selling yourself, finding recruitment…that list is even longer.

When you connect to someone, you want to see who they are and what they do/have done. A blank or poorly-filled in profile isn’t going to tell them that. Use your LinkedIn to tell people your career story; where you came from, how you got to where you are now, your top responsibilities and your areas of expertise.

You also need a suitable profile picture, because people like to see that you’re a real person.

People with profile photos get 14x more profile views than those without.

Depending on the line of work you’re in, having a comprehensive profile will get you noticed, and can even bring in potential business. Are you a bricklayer in Newcastle? You’ll come up in search results in LinkedIn if someone is looking for that. Have a specialist skill in NAV development? People looking for those skills will find you.

2. Share, share, share – and like others’ shares

“But what do I share?” I hear you cry. Anything you like…within reason.

Remember that LinkedIn is a professional social network, so nobody wants to see pictures of your dinner, your rants about your commute, or every selfie you take.

When it comes to LinkedIn, there’s a ton of content you could share. It could be your business’ updates from its Company Page (as the owner of TSG’s, I’m of course a big advocate of this), which amplifies its reach by 10x. You could also share your company’s news, announcements and blogs directly from your page.

You could share interesting articles that you find that are related to your job, career or sector – or that you think your connections will find useful. You can share personal and business successes. Positive personal anecdotes and motivational posts are also successful on LinkedIn.

If you post 20 times a month, you’ll reach over 60% of your connections – and a significant number of their connections.

An important thing to consider when posting on LinkedIn is: what purpose does it serve? Does it help to positively promote yourself or your business? Will your connections find it helpful or useful? These are the best indications that you’re good to post your link, article or anecdote.

Don’t forget to interact with your connections too. While LinkedIn has come under fire for changing its algorithms in an attempt to push users towards paid accounts, it’s giving users the potential for reach through interactions. This means if you like your colleague’s post on LinkedIn, your connections will see that post with a little note to say you liked it – the same goes for commenting. For that reason, also encourage people to interact with your posts.

Posts with links (to websites, blogs etc.) get 200% more engagement than posts without.

3. Information gathering

LinkedIn is a treasure trove when it comes to helping you in your career and beyond. Not only will your connections (hopefully) be sharing valuable insight, you can go and find it for yourself. You can follow companies that are likely to share updates you find useful – for example, I follow the Chartered Institute of Marketing; I hold a few of its qualifications and I know it posts valuable content. I also follow TSG’s key partners that I cover – Microsoft, Sage, Nintex, LiveTiles and so on, to keep up to date with their developments and news.

Groups are also great for sharing useful information. Currently you can join 50 groups on the free version of LinkedIn, so choose wisely. Many groups on LinkedIn are dedicated to sharing news, information and generally helpful content. LinkedIn can be your hub for everything you need to know to be the best in your role.

There are over 2 million groups on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn isn’t going anywhere

Microsoft has invested a huge amount in LinkedIn, and it fits neatly into its strategy of connected, integrated experiences. The message from Microsoft is clear: LinkedIn is here to stay and you need to be on it, lest you miss out.