How To Use LinkedIn When You’re Not Looking For A Job

By William Arruda | Forbes | May 4, 2022

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful career growth resources you have when you know how to use it. Sadly though, many people still view LinkedIn as a tool for just one aspect of career advancement—job search. And it’s true, since LinkedIn launched in 2003, it has been a valuable resource for identifying and pursuing your next big gig. That’s why many people have a LinkedIn mindset that’s stuck in 2003.

If you’re living in 2003, the Concorde is still flying, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the governor of California and “Friends” is the number one TV show. It’s time to fast forward into 2022 and take advantage of the full suite of features LinkedIn offers. Mastering LinkedIn is not optional. In our new hybrid world of work, LinkedIn is essential for your career development. Here’s how to get the most from this social media powerhouse when you’re not in job search mode (which is most of the time!):

1. Ace your digital first impression.
First impressions last. Thanks to two cognitive biases we have—primacy and anchoring— someone’s first impression of you will have a long-lasting impact on how they perceive you and on your ability to build a relationship with them. Today, most first impressions are digital. When someone who doesn’t know you sees your name on a meeting invitation, they’ll type your name into Google and see what shows up. Often, professionals skip Google all together and go directly to LinkedIn; but even if they start at Google, they’ll end up at LinkedIn. That’s because your LinkedIn profile will show up at or near the top of search results. And that’s great news. When you focus some energy on just one social media tool— LinkedIn—you’ll be able to wow people who seek to learn about you.

Your LinkedIn profile is replete with the ideal features you need to create an authentic, compelling and differentiated first impression. Spend extra time on these four:

  • Headline. Your headline provides relevance and also helps you get found in searches.
  • Headshot. Your headshot makes you real in the virtual world. Use a high-quality pic that focuses on your face.
  • About. Your LinkedIn about will be the most-read version of your bio, so spend extra time to tell your story in a way that makes people want to know you.
  • LinkedIn Cover Story. Introduce yourself via a brief elevator pitch that sits right behind your headshot.

2. Stand out from the pack.
Some LinkedIn features are designed to help you showcase your secret sauce. Let’s face it, the world is competitive. That’s why differentiating yourself is critical. Make the most of these features:

  • Featured. This profile element allows you to showcase multimedia work like white papers, videos, images, etc. It’s valuable real estate near the top of your profile. So make the most of it.
  • Background. Your LinkedIn background can be customized to tell the world more about you—like your passions and accomplishments. You know the old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words. So add a thousand words to your profile without bulking it up.

3. Build and nurture your brand community.
Since it was founded, e-networking has always been a major focus of LinkedIn. And today, most networking is e-networking. So take these actions:

Connect with your colleagues. You’ve worked hard to build and nurture relationships with colleagues, employees, internal clients and managers in your company. These people will be important connections throughout your career. So you can always stay in touch with them—even if they leave your company, connect with them on LinkedIn. When they do leave, their current email address will no longer be valid, but their LinkedIn profile will remain a way to stay in touch.

Deliver value. Whether you’re supporting teammates or your followers, one of the best ways to give value to others is by sharing interesting content, expertise and insights. Always remember to brand what you share by adding your style and point of view.

4. Demonstrate your loyalty.
Want to be a superstar at your current company? Become a digital brand ambassador. When you share what your company posts to their LinkedIn page, you make it more valuable. In fact, LinkedIn data shows that only 3% of employees share their company content, yet that 3% accounts for 30% of social actions. And here’s the bonus. When you check out what your company is sharing, you learn about things outside your division or job function. You move yourself outside the normal hierarchy, and maybe you’ll even find a plum assignment in another part of the organization.

5. Amp up your skills.
We all know that if you’re not learning, you’re not standing still, you’re actually falling behind. Being a life-long learner is a mindset that’s essential for career success in our world that has sped up. LinkedIn gives you countless ways to keep the saw sharp, refine your expertise and impress your boss. With new skills, you’ll stand out to your boss, colleagues and clients. Here are three of the most valuable learning opportunities:

  • Your feed. Check it out daily. You’ll be directed to content that will be interesting to you that you may not have found on your own. It’s a great way to stay current.
  • LinkedIn groups. Groups provide the best way to connect with fellow subject matter experts and learn best practices. You can apply those best practices to your company and reinforce your personal brand attribute of “innovative.”
  • LinkedIn Learning. In addition to those less structured ways of gaining knowledge, LinkedIn has built one of the largest portfolios of learning content in the world, covering everything from project management skills to stress reduction techniques. This ever-growing library of learning can be your way of staying one step ahead of your colleagues.
By MIT Sloan CDO