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On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, CFA Society Chicago hosted a webinar entitled LinkedIn Strategies. Jeff Feeney, CFA, moderated the discussion with guest speaker Kathleen O’Holleran, vice president and consultant at Lee Hecht Harrison, Inc.

O’Holleran started the webinar with a survey amongst the webinar attendees noting the familiarity and usage of LinkedIn. The poll showed that 70% of participants noted they use LinkedIn a minimum of 1 – 2  times per week, with the top common uses being to see what connections are doing (64% of respondents noted this among common uses) and looking for a new job (47% of respondents).

O’Holleran gave a brief overview of the evolution of LinkedIn and how it has come to be used. Today’s version of LinkedIn allows users to expand their own professional reputation and brand. There is an increasing focus on companies purchasing sites on LinkedIn to have a stronger online presence. Recruiting for new professional positions is now very common on LinkedIn, and more and more customers are using it to check on who they may want to work with or from whom they may want to purchase services.

Given that LinkedIn is now used to enhance a positive social media presence, O’Holleran provided tips and updates on how to create a personal profile to support one’s personal brand. The first step is to identify what one’s personal brand is, such as what you do well. Some users will want to convey a technical expertise and in turn use technical language such as Information Technology terms, or specific language of their business. Others may want to focus the personal brand more on business development and concentrate the LinkedIn profile on building partnerships and increasing top line numbers. Others may want to convey a positive operations message using language noting efficiency and cost savings.

If using LinkedIn, there are some traps a user will want to avoid such as having their profile looking dated or poorly presented. A less active or connected profile will appear weaker. This can give the impression of dated thoughts and resistance to new things, creating an overall negative image.

O’Holleran also described the algorithms that help people get identified on LinkedIn. These algorithms look for a complete profile. The size of a person’s network is equal to their own personal connections plus the amount of 2nd level connections plus the size of a person’s groups. Activity level also plays a role in this in order to identify who is using LinkedIn the most. O’Holleran encourages joining LinkedIn groups of organizations that you belong to, follow, or want to be associated with. As a reminder anyone can follow CFA Society Chicago’s LinkedIn page, however only members of the Society can join the Members Only Group.

O’Holleran identified what people want to see when they view a LinkedIn profile noting your top headline is very important. You can include a lot of information in this section and it often captures a broad overview. Adding personal achievements will also strengthen one’s profile. Scrolling through a profile becomes “hard work” for some so it is best to get a substantial amount of information conveyed in the first 10 seconds of viewing the profile. Users with pictures are 21 times more likely to be viewed.  An attractive banner also helps as it is better than text and keeps it attractive and colorful. The recommendations section is helpful as well. When requesting recommendations from people to add to your profile, ask people to be specific about particular items you’ve been good at or achieved. 

O’Holleran advised that your LinkedIn profile should not necessarily mirror your resume. Information about you in LinkedIn is much more about your personal brand, while your resume is often more about your technical expertise and education.

If you are using LinkedIn to look for a job, O’Holleran noted there can be good words or phrases to use, such as identifying you are seeking new opportunities. You can also use the “Open To Work” photo frame to go around your personal picture. If a user is switching careers it can be a little more challenging to focus on the new field you want to go into if you have minimal new connections, but LinkedIn can be of assistance in broadening your network.  If you are looking to apply for a job, sometimes the question will come up as to whether to do it through the company website or through LinkedIn. O’Holleran advised that if the company is listed on LinkedIn, it can help to follow the company and then apply through LinkedIn. This can create additional notifications at the company about your presence and interest. O’Holleran noted that recruiters typically would not look for Board Directors on LinkedIn. However, in some cases they may look for some specific expertise or roles, such as an Audit Chair.

O’Holleran commented on some good ways to increase your network and to effectively use LinkedIn to connect with others. One good method is to search to see who your connections know in places where you want to work or associate with, and then use that to make broader connections.

Many users who use LinkedIn for broadening networks frequently post their own content or repost helpful articles. You can pull material from your own work or review your feed and share the articles with your connections. You will also be able to double back to see who is sharing or liking your posts, monitor responses and follow up on connections. Some users may want to send a specific article to specific connections and comment along the lines of “I was thinking about you when I saw this” in the messaging.

O’Holleran was asked whether it may be worth it to pay for the premium version of LinkedIn. She noted that many things can be done without the premium license, but she suggests building a premium profile and activating a one-month free trial with LinkedIn Premium to see the types of benefits it provides. The premium license does allow LinkedIn Learning which is very good training if you are looking for this. Premium also gives you opportunity to send five messages per month to people you are not connected with, which can be of value, and gives you more information about who has viewed your profile.

Overall, this was a very helpful session to give more insights into ways LinkedIn can be used for networking and connections.