I have to admit I don’t use LinkedIn for what appears to be its intended purpose, ie. LEAD GENERATION. I tend to use it more as a phone book, a place to source useful reading, and general “find out what’s going on in industries I care about” tool. So, given the disclaimer that I’m not all about lead generation, but someone who finds benefits from using LinkedIn, you’re permitted to take the following advice with a grain of salt or a dash of sugar.

Here are my LinkedIn basic rules:

  1. Make your name your actual name: A few too many people, mostly freelancers think that they need to include their occupation as part of their name, for example, John SmithArtist. You don’t need to do that. Please stop.  Your name is enough. While it’s interesting that you’re an artist, once people look at your profile, they’ll soon learn that about what you do pretty quickly. If you’re concerned that you don’t have a Company to list, if you write Independent Arts and Crafts Professional LinkedIn will be satisfied. In the title section, simply write what you do, ie. Artist, Writer or Creative etc.
  2. Profile Picture: There is a popular meme that circulates periodically that features three images of Beyonce in different poses and in different clothes. While you’re probably not Beyonce, it is a useful guide to choosing the right kind of image. LinkedIn is pretty straight – there’s not a lot of real estate to express yourself, so a headshot of you (make it as professional as you can, but leave some room for individuality and YOU). Do NOT use an image of your and your kids (that’s for Facebook), or that sultry glamour shot (that’s for RSVP). Also, unless you’re a personal trainer, don’t wear a singlet.
  3. Stop “endorsing” people: unless you know and have worked with the person you’re endorsing (this is personal pet peeve of mine): Each day I have two or three endorsements from people I do not know, have never met and have never worked with. Why? I have no idea, though I suspect it takes just a click to do it. While I appreciate what you’re trying to do, I have no idea why as at today 41 people have endorsed me for QUALITATIVE RESEARCH.  Before the endorsement feature came in, to recommend someone actually meant writing a Recommendation which was like a written reference. These are/were much more valuable as it actually requires the writer to think about their relationship with the connection they’re endorsing and what it was they were recommending.
  4. Use the Summary section: to really talk about who you are and what you do.
  5. Add your projects to Experience: If you’re a freelancer or independent artist, there’s a good chance that you’ve spent the last few decades moving from project to project. Only a small percentage of the people I know actually have old-fashioned jobs that last for years. Most folks I know are project based workers. As your Experience grows, you may consider grouping like projects together, or even time periods. This will vary from person to person.
  6. How can Slideshare help to showcase your talents? Very few people I work with know or understand Slideshare. LinkedIn however, own this platform and the intergration is pretty seamless. Create a few interesting slides about you and your work, so that your profile stalkers can get a better sense of you and your creative work.

A new feature of LinkedIn that I’m very happy with is the Volunteer section as a discreet section. I have a lot of shuffling around of positions to do this week (taking quite a few positions from Experience to Volunteer).

How we used LinkedIn over time varies. Not everyone will need to have a LinkedIn profile, and you should think about it before you jump in. A few years ago I wrote a post for people thinking about taking the leap into a digital presence for their professional work. If you have a strong digital presence already (including up to date contact details), I’m not sure you need LinkedIn. But if you’re looking for the basic digital presence for your professional work, then I think LinkedIn is the way to go. I have a lot of LinkedIn updating to do this month. But I find that for the time-poor person, LinkedIn really only needs to be updated a few times a year – so it’s really one of the easiest social media sites to be a part of.

It’s really up to each individual and what they’re comfortable with sharing. Though for professionals today, having your CV online is more normal than not.

Do you have a LinkedIn presence? Are you getting out of it what you hoped?

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