LinkedIn 101: Beginners Guide for Professionals and Students

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has fast become the social media networking tool of choice for a variety of reasons. Businesses across the globe are tapping into LinkedIn as a business growth tool for networking, marketing, and building professional credibility. Whether you are a seasoned professional or student in this quick LinkedIn Beginners Guide I want to give you plenty of reasons why taking an active presence on LinkedIn is well worth considering for your future.

Why Use LinkedIn?

It is fair to say since launching on May 5, 2003, LinkedIn has carved out its own lane as a social media platform. Maintaining your professional interests, manage your professional identity, build and engage with your professional network, find new job opportunities and even seek out ideal candidates for new roles in your organisation. The network has over 500 million active users, including CEOs and mega influencers so from making business connections to grow your digital footprint, LinkedIn has a multitude of benefits.

Here are three reasons why some of the world’s VIPs are using the platform:

Networking Benefits

LinkedIn is one of the easiest ways to connect with other businesses and professionals. Need to know who your competitors are? Find them on LinkedIn. Want to get to know local businesses? Connect on LinkedIn. Need some professional advice or have something interesting about your business to share? Yep, LinkedIn.

The networking benefits alone are worth engaging on the platform. Your network is your net worth, and you can get to know a lot more people professionally via this platform than any other social network.

To share with you my favourite LinkedIn story from August 2015 when I received this message from a young man, Nikolaos Gkolfinopoulos  on LinkedIn:

"Hi Despina,

We haven't been introduced officially, so I am Nikos and it is really nice to be e-connected with you. Apart from the Greek origin we also belong in the same industry (Tourism) and as I understand we have additional commonalities in regards to issues such as the sharing economy.

I would love to have a coffee with you sometime if the time and our schedules permits that.

Kind Regards,
Nikos"

Nikos was in Melbourne at the time studying his Masters of International Sustainable Tourism Management at Monash University and after meeting with Nikos I found our time together so uplifting I did what I only know what to do best. Wrote about it in an article titled LinkedIn: Keeping Us Green, Growing and in Good Compan to inspire others on LinkedIn to reach out and help each other.

Nikos is now based in Spain and has carved out a very successful career in tourism now working as a Tourism Expert as a Silk Road Project Specialist at United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Fast forward to October 2018 and I had the great opportunity to work with Nikos at 8th UNWTO International Meeting on Silk Road Tourism Conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, and it all started from a simple message on LinkedIn!

Marketing Benefits

Data shows that LinkedIn is the #1 platform for Business to B marketers to share their content, with more than 94% of marketers using it primarily for distribution. That means all that excellent content you’re creating right now has a free home. We’re talking blog posts, slide decks, infographics, and other content that will help you promote your business.

And, the bigger your network, the more people will see it.

Credibility Building Benefits

Unlike Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn was built for professionals. It’s an outlet for you to build your image as a credible source in your industry. The best way to accomplish this is through posting thought leadership pieces and quality content that proves why you’re best in class.

LinkedIn 101: First Things First

Being successful on LinkedIn takes more than filling out a profile. Let’s cover the basics first in this quick LinkedIn guide beginners:

Build a Strong Profile
Your profile is the foundation of your LinkedIn persona. At the very minimum, you should have the following:

● Name and headline
● A profile picture (profiles with pictures get 21x more views and 36x more messages)
● Custom LinkedIn URL
● Executive summary and experience
● Educational background
● Skills (others will be able to endorse you for these skills, more on that in a minute)

LinkedIn measures your profile strength based on completeness. Look at their recommendations to make it as attractive as possible.

Make Valuable Connections
As soon as you complete your profile, start connecting! Set a goal to make 50+ connections within a week and continue to grow your network. The more people you have in your network, the more people that will see your content.

Research shows that only about 3 million users are sharing content (fairly low given their massive user base), so there’s lots of room for visibility here without getting lost in the noise.

Get Skills Endorsements
Remember those skills you listed on your profile? Other people can endorse you for those skills to prove your excellence, which in turn will build your credibility. The best way to get your skills endorsed is to give endorsements to others. They’ll appreciate it and will be glad to return the favour.

Building a LinkedIn Content Marketing Strategy
Now that we’ve got the basic LinkedIn tutorial out of the way, let’s dive deeper into content marketing. There’s really no point in creating and sharing content for LinkedIn if you don’t have your bases covered, like a good profile.

To be clear, content marketing isn’t like the aggressively selling that many businesses are doing on LinkedIn. When this happens, people start putting up their defences and tune out much of the conversations in their feed, but you can break through these barriers by creating helpful, insightful content they actually want to read.

Here are the three core pieces of a LinkedIn content marketing strategy that you should start putting into motion:

LinkedIn Blogging
LinkedIn has its very own blogging feature built into the platform. Publishing your content directly to LinkedIn helps you deliver value to your connections, and they can share it with their audience to help you expand your reach.

In addition, your connections receive a notification every time you publish something. You can drive traffic to your website, share insights, and make positive impressions with zero extra effort beyond writing the blog post.

Creating Shareworthy Content
Aside from blogging, you can create other valuable content that people are likely to share. An infographic outlining key industry insights. A behind the scenes video of your recent business event or an interview with an industry leader.

Every time someone shares your content, your name is attached (and so is your business!).

Amplify Your Content Reach
You don’t have to rely on the newsfeed to boost your content. Anytime you reach out to a connection, feel free to share your content with them. Include a call to action at the end of your blog post or other content encouraging others to like, share, or comment. This gives you an easy way to start a conversation and see where it leads.

Bottom Line: Should You Include LinkedIn in Your Marketing?

The quick and simple answer is a resounding yes! LinkedIn has loads of potential just waiting for you to tap into it. And even though it’s been around for almost as long as Facebook, there’s still plenty of room for growth and business development.

In Australia’s competitive business environment (honestly, in any industry), it’s hard to go it alone. Building valuable connections with other businesses gives you a symbiotic relationship that grows your own resources at scale and benefiting your local business community at large.

And who doesn’t like a win/win?

For more branding and business-building insights, head back to the Institute of Excellence blog.

Despina is a passionate digital marketer, social media maestro and tourism professional. With over 15 years working and growing small businesses she started her own boutique training business, Institute of Excellence with the intention to ignite excellence in business and people. As a Certified Victorian Tourism eKit Trainer, business coach, author and digital marketing professional, Despina is a passionate advocate for growing small business through shared experiences because every business has a very special gift, YOU!

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