LinkedIn: 5 tips for creating an effective online presence

The University of Edinburgh recently launched a brand new Digital Footprint MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) which focuses on the different dimensions of a digital footprint, including developing an effective online presence. As part of the MOOC I recorded a video with my top 5 tips for creating an effective online presence using networking platforms such as LinkedIn and I thought I would share my tips with you on this blog.

1. Small things can make a big difference

First off there are some small tweaks you can make to your LinkedIn profile which can have a big impact on your profile:

  • Make sure your profile has a professional-looking photo (a head and shoulders shot of you looking into the camera) as you’re more likely to be found in searches. It doesn’t need to be taken by a professional photographer but it should look professional. Definitely no selfies, cut-outs from group photos or photos from social occasions!
  • Include your name on your profile but leave out any titles and qualifications you have – your qualifications are listed on your profile anyway so you don’t need to include them in the name field.  Again you’re more likely to be found in searches.
  • Add a short summary statement at the top of your profile – keep it brief and write something along the lines of an ‘elevator pitch’. Think about the key things that you want other professionals and potential employers to know about you and summarise this in a couple of sentences.
  • Customise the url to your public profile – when you join LinkedIn you will be given a url for your profile but you can customise this and then use it on job applications/CVs.
  • Add relevant skills and languages to your profile – look at profiles of professionals working in your target sector to see what skills they list on their profiles and include any languages you have too.

2. Collect endorsements and recommendations

Once you’ve added skills to your LinkedIn profile you can start to collect endorsements from your connections and this can enhance your profile – make sure you’ve checked your endorsement settings so you can receive endorsements from colleagues. Once you have endorsements your skills will be listed on your profile in order of endorsements so your skills with the most endorsements will be listed first. You can re-order this list if you want to highlight specific skills so bear that in mind too.

Recommendations are a little different as this is where your connections write short statements about you and your skills/abilities which will then appear on your profile. If you’re able to get a couple of trusted connections to write a short recommendation this can add more depth to your profile. Consider asking work supervisors/managers to write a recommendation for you.

3. Grow your network

Don’t worry if you don’t have many connections when you joined LinkedIn – everyone has to start somewhere. When you sign up connect with people that you know and grow your network from there. Connect with classmates, friends, family, work colleagues and others who you know and then go from there. Once your network starts to grow you can review it and disconnect from people if you need to later on.

4. Use professional groups

LinkedIn groups are a great way of growing your network, finding out about what’s happening in a particular sector, finding out about job opportunities, researching career options and potentially getting useful advice from other professionals via the group discussion forums. LinkedIn has a huge range of professional groups covering a wide range of sectors so have a search for groups that are relevant for the sector(s) you’re interested in.

5. Use the alumni tool

The LinkedIn alumni pages are a great way of researching alumni career paths, getting inspiration and ideas for potential job roles and employers and you can search using different criteria including location, employer, sector and degree subject studied. Search for your university on LinkedIn and then from the university’s LinkedIn page click on ‘see alumni’ to start exploring.

And finally

I mentioned the University of Edinburgh Digital Footprint MOOC and if you’d like to find out more about this and take part (it’s free and all the materials are accessible all year round, so why not!) then you can register and take part here.


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