How to professionally Up your LinkedIn Game in 2021

Hello my lovelies! 2021 seems to be another year of mostly home office and with WFH (Working From Home) comes even more focus on our virtual reputation. This is not only the case for those that are thriving on social media, but also for those in a perhaps less creative industry (such as finance). LinkedIn, in my opinion, is the most important social platform one should be on, professionally speaking!

Did you know, that LinkedIn has over 722 million members in over 200 countries and regions worldwide? With over 7 billion people living on this planet, that means every 10th person roughly has a LinkedIn profile! With the Covid-19 breakout in 2020, live streams have jumped up by 89% over the past year, over a billion (!) interactions happen on LinkedIn pages monthly and even the messaging on the platform has increased by 23%. Now if so many people are on LinkedIn to network professionally and interact with others, is that not a reason to get a profile?

In all seriousness, though, LinkedIn is great for professional use. I love Instagram, Pinterest, and all the social media apps, but these are far from professional for my use. LinkedIn, in my eyes, is all about socialising to like-minded people in the industry and similar ones. I barely write someone on LinkedIn if it has no business use for me, unless I congratulate someone on a new job position, their birthday or other achievement. On top of that, LinkedIn is a great platform for following companies, visionary people (I for example follow Christine Lagarde), sharing ideas, articles and other useful information. And, believe it or not, it is a very good search engine – especially when you are working in sales or looking for like-minded people (I’ll get to that). So without further due, here are some of the points I think are utmost important when using LinkedIn and how to Up your LinkedIn game in 2021!

A professional photograph and banner image are key!
Let’s start with the most important part in my eyes: the photograph and banner. LinkedIn is all about networking and connecting professionally. If people are looking for you, at your LinkedIn profile page or you are trying to connect to them but have no photograph of yourself (and they may not know you personally or remember your name) – chances are you will not be added. Also, I think photos are extremely important just by having a face to a name. Personally, I like to save these photos and add them to any new contact I save on my phone – this way, I already have a face to the individual when in contact with them before I have met them (virtually or in real life). Finally, on this point, make sure your photo is professional. Don’t take a selfie with weird objects in the back, dress nicely on the photo, and for girls, I recommend don’t show too much cleavage if you are working in the banking world (it’s just not as professional as you would like to think).
Good to know: You can now click on your photo and change the visibility (i.e. who can see your photo) – and I highly recommend on leaving it or putting it on “all LinkedIn members” if you use the platform professionally.
Now comes the banner – personally, and statistically speaking, it makes your profile just so much more interesting. Whether you add your personal logo as a banner, the logo of your work (ask for permission first!), or something personal is up to you. What I do recommend, is that if you keep it personal, keep it classy. You might love your dogs and cats but they may not be the best background and banner for your profile. Perhaps use a photo of mountains if you live in Switzerland, the city skyline you work in or something calming like a golf court if that is your passion. Again, make sure that you use your own images or ones that are free to use commercially.

Your LinkedIn Headline Section is the first thing anyone reads!
The headline section is right under your profile picture and is also what people see when they search for you (even before they click on your personal LinkedIn profile). Previously, you had 120 characters (similar to a Twitter tweet) to summarise what you do – now, you have 220! Use these wisely with keywords that describe your profession and how you can be of help to your network. For example, I have my job position, my last achieved certificate, my business expertise and the main markets (geographically speaking) I work with listed. This way, people know exactly with what topics they can approach me with and most likely get a good answer to any question they have.

Go more in depth in your About Section and use the Featured Section
The About Section is really all about you. Here, you can explain in more detail what it is that you do, what services you offer, perhaps what services or clients you are looking for, and even something personal. With personal, I mean add 2-3 sentences about what it is that makes you unique – your love for finance, poems, or chatting about the world over a glass of 2017 Sassicaia (shows you know and appreciate your red wines). This gives your contacts or anyone approaching you a first topic to speak about if they don’t want to start with the boring “Hey, how are you?”. Also, I like to add these personal statements to the persons contact in my phone. This way, when I see or speak to them again after a while, I can ask how they are improving or for example when they last played golf.
The Featured section on LinkedIn can be used to upload any documents, articles, or other materials that, well, feature you. Be it an article you wrote, a company document you wish to upload (again, request permission), or some of your work (such as your last photos if you are a photographer?). However, do use this section wisely (if you do) and I recommend not adding more than 3-5 features. No one wants to scroll through 100 documents.

Make your LinkedIn-URL unique
Now, this is something a lot of people do not know about. When you go on your LinkedIn profile and click the URL, you usually get a long URL that looks something like this: …linkedIn.com/yourname/example/12345
This is the standard URL given to your personal profile by LinkedIn. Now imagine pepping this up and creating your own URL with keywords that are important to your work.
How to change your URL on LinkedIn: On the top right of your LinkedIn profile page click “Edit Public Profile & URL”, then again on the top right, click “Edit your custom URL” – it is SO easy and SO useful (I’ll come to that)! Make sure that you add keywords in your custom URL that you want to be linked with. If you work in Private Banking your main markets are the US, Europe and Asia, add exactly that.
Now you think that this may not make a big difference, because really, who checks a URL once they are on a certain profile? Well, I do – but mainly because I want to see who knows their LinkedIn as well as I do ;) It does however help you tremendously when someone is searching for exact these keywords; especially on LinkedIn itself.

Using the Search function on LinkedIn
A lot of people I know use the Search function on LinkedIn to search for an individual – perhaps a person they met, they received an email from or a co-worker. That is perfectly fine and correct, but there is so much more to it. You may have noticed that if you type “John Doe” in the search function, it shows you individuals, companies, even restaurants with the name – all on LinkedIn. Now, if you are looking for a name that is rather popular but you don’t have a face to the name, looking through all these suggestions can become tedious. Or let’s make it more interesting: You are working in sales or some network-heavy industry and are looking to connect to new people. You can use the LinkedIn Search function to narrow down your search immensely by using the words “AND” and “OR”. Say you are looking for someone in the banking industry that works as an asset manager, has clients in the Middle East and Asia. Perhaps you are even looking for someone in a large company with thousands of employees with exactly those markets and job functions. You can then search for exactly that on LinkedIn.
Here is an example how to search for the above mentioned on LinkedIn Search. In the search function, type in: “asset manager” AND “Asia” AND “Middle East” OR “XYZ Company”.
This will narrow down your search immensely and makes networking SO much easier on the platform. Even better, if you made your own unique URL on LinkedIn and someone is looking for the keywords you used, you will well be listed at the top of the search list!

Connecting on LinkedIn the RIGHT way
I have received so many LinkedIn connection requests over the years of people that I do not know and that are barely, if at all, connected to my existing LinkedIn network. My thumb of rule is this: If I do not know you, have not seen your face (see the importance of the photo!?), we do not have at least a handful of mutual connections and you have not written me a personal message on why I should add you to my network I will decline the request. Simple as that. The importance really lies on the personal message. Whenever you send a request to a person to connect, you are asked if you want to add a personal message to the request. And I cannot state the importance of personal messages often enough. No one wants to be befriended with you if you are a stranger to them – even worse, if you have no photo, no banner, no headline, no nothing! Write people a short message how you got to know them or why you want to know them – did you see them on a webinar? Did a friend speak highly of them (if so, state the name of the friend)? Are you looking to speak to them about business matters, if so, which ones? The more precise you make your message, the faster you will get an approval – trust me!

So here you have it, a lengthy but hopefully helpful guideline to up your LinkedIn Game in 2021! If you are interested in how to best use LinkedIn Content wise, feel free to let me know and I can write another post about that. Believe it or not, there really is an almost “perfect” LinkedIn post. The algorithm is constantly changing on the platform but with a little know-how, you can make sure that your post is seen by the majority of your network!

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