I remember being told that there was this new social media platform in town and that the only objective of it was to replace recruiters and the long tedious exercise of applying your CV to HR practitioners who won't tell you why you'd been successful with the application. It was LinkedIn. And I can confidently say that my little birdie who told me about LinkedIn couldn't be far from wrong, from the recruiters and recruitee's perspective.
Two days later I opened my LinkedIn account, this was in October 2014. I then uploaded my favourite picture from Facebook, which, in the early 2000s, obviously was a selfie of me pouting. I then imported everything from my CV into the fields asked by LinkedIn. I then needed to do one more thing, I needed to follow all of the companies that I wanted to work for and then wait for them to follow me back so that I can have my interview. Now all I had to do was wait. And wait, and 2 years later I was still waiting. Clearly there was something wrong with either the recruiters, because my profile filled in all the blanks that LinkedIn asked of me.
It's safe to say that during those 2 years, no recruiter came my way because, well, I didn't have the most palatable LinkedIn account. So what needed to be done in order to be taken seriously as a professional in my field?
I first needed to understand the LinkedIn game before I could play it. LinkedIn is a professional social media network platform that connects professionals from across the world in different industries. The value-add about this platform is that it not only has it for job listings and a myriad of recruiters, it's also an opportunity to broaden your network authentically, receive and give testimonials about yours and your colleagues' work and update your CV as well as establishing your expertise and introducing people to your skills and thought leadership capabilities through blog posts and/or LinkedIn groups with their like-minded individuals.
However, in all of this you have to POSITION yourself correctly. LinkedIn is about perception, and how you consistently commit to it. It can be overwhelming at times to engage on the platform as a newbie, I’ve been there. Let me share 5 rules of engagement that curbed my experience and has now made it an incredible joyride, still learning on the way: 1. Invest in your Image
Your image and voice on LinkedIn will most likely not be the same as Twitter Facebook, where you’ll overshare about personal things, and update the world about your dating woes. The same goes for your images. Your profile picture doesn’t have to be you in a suit with your arms crossed and no smile to be deemed professional, however, do invest in a high resolution portrait picture that embodies your personality and invites not only recruiters and potential employees, but a professional network. You can reach out to Anthea Adams or Thandi Gula for this, they’ve incredible rates that won’t take you thousands of rands of pockets back.
2. "What do you do?"
Without a potential connection having to go through your entire profile or your account, LinkedIn has an incredible feature for you to provide a summary of what you do, and ultimately why you are on LinkedIn. Use this feature to your advantage, because it is your image, job title and executive summary that ultimately makes the first impression and first perception about who you and your work are.
3. Thought Leadership Positioning
Now let’s be clear, having a shiny image and a crisp executive summary doesn’t mean that people will now immediately come to your profile like a swarm of bees, invite them. This you can do through engaging with posts, and also through creating your own. This can be through posting images and status uploads, and one through a blog post. This is one of the most powerful ways to positon your brand as a leader in your market. People want to know how much you know about your market, and essentially be able to trust you about your thoughts an expertise on subject matters in your industry. Create blog posts atleast every two months if you’re starting out, and continuously market your thought pieces.
LinkedIn is all about relationship building, and finding ways to add value to your connections, and vice versa. Once you’ve made a connection, send a simple “Thank you so much for connecting!” or “Thank you for the connection, Much appreciated, I trust we will add value in each other’s lives. Best regards,” follow up note to initiate the relationship. This doesn’t mean that you’ll immediately work together, but you showing interest is a great first step!
As I wrap up this post, I’ve also just discovered a new application from Cape Town, South Africa called KnektMe. It’s the perfect app for the introvert who sometimes doesn’t know how to navigate their way at a tech event or a business lounger. KnektMe is a proximity based networking tool that uses Bluetooth to discover other users within a specific area. Don’t let your shyness get the better of you networking, and let’s continue to use technology to App(size) our careers!
Images by Thandi Gula Photography (left) and Anthea Adams Photography (right)