It’s easy to dismiss the latest social network as a fleeting fad or a waste of time. Facebook is for fun, while X moves at lightning speed. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is where it’s at for those serious about furthering their careers. Follow these 3 LinkedIn Tips for Executives to make the most out of LinkedIn.
Fortune 100 companies from Intuit to Kraft use LinkedIn to recruit, and a quarter of members are senior executives. 60% of LinkedIn users are between 25 and 34 years old.
Here’s what executive-level candidates should consider when using LinkedIn:
1. Get familiar with your privacy settings
Many executives choose to err on the side of caution for the sake of confidentiality. They’re approached more often by recruiters, and may be accountable to board members or high-level investors. Whatever information you choose to upload to LinkedIn is public, but you do have control over who sees your real-time activity on the site.
Your privacy controls are found under Settings. You can choose to turn off activity broadcasts and this means your connections won’t be notified when you update your LinkedIn profile, write or receive recommendations, or follow companies (otherwise, these types of activities will appear in their news feeds). You may want to keep your activity feed public, however. That means if you post industry articles to LinkedIn, for example, your contacts will see the link. Sharing useful links demonstrates thought leadership and helps keep you on the radar of your connections.
Another setting to adjust relates to what others see when you view their profiles on LinkedIn. Members are notified when somebody views their page, so if you don’t want anyone to know that you’ve looked at their profile page (for example, if you’re vetting competitors, recruiters, or staff) then you can choose to browse profiles anonymously. This is done under ‘Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’. You may also want to hide the ‘Viewers of this profile also viewed’ box, or limit who can view your list of connections.
2. Build your network carefully
Once you’ve joined LinkedIn and set up your profile, the next step is to build your network. If you aren’t sure how to go about this, start with colleagues, friends, and even family if appropriate. Make a habit of following up with a LinkedIn connection request when you meet new people in the course of work.
There’s no magic number to aim for here, but 100 connections is generally a sound tipping point. As your circle of direct connections expands, so does your network of second and third degree contacts. If you have fewer than that, others may write you off as a networking amateur.
That said, don’t make the common mistake of sending requests to anyone and everyone. Only connect to people you know or people who have reputable profiles with contact lists that can help strategically grow your network. The higher your level, the more discerning you should be. Instead, build your network slowly and steadily, on an individual basis, and carefully vet any connection requests you receive.
3. Craft your LinkedIn profile strategically
Fully fleshing out your LinkedIn profile–headline, summary, work history, education, and contact information–is a must. Be strategic about every sentence and every word that you include. What kind of picture do you want to paint about who you are and what you do? Everything on your LinkedIn profile should tie into a cohesive story that communicates the value you deliver.
That means highlighting your most impressive achievements, both in your summary and your work experience sections. It also means demonstrating your career trajectory over the years. You didn’t start out at the C-level, so show how you’ve risen through the ranks and progressed to bigger challenges at every step of the way. Position yourself at an executive level by weaving key achievement-oriented terms and phrases into your profile to reinforce your professional brand, and even into your skills and interests sections.