With more than 175 million users, LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals as well as one of the top social networks overall. Are you using it to its fullest potential? While Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest have been monopolizing the buzz in the social media marketing world lately, LinkedIn is a powerful platform that often gets underutilized or put on the back burner.
But the truth is, LinkedIn can be extremely useful -- especially when you're aware of all the little hidden tricks that don't get nearly enough exposure as they deserve. To help you master LinkedIn, below is our ultimate list of 35 awesome tricks you may have been overlooking.
We've divided these tips into three main categories -- optimizing your LinkedIn presence, using LinkedIn for professional networking, and using LinkedIn for business and marketing.
Optimizing Your LinkedIn Presence
1) Claim your vanity URL.
Make your profile look more professional and easier to share by claiming your LinkedIn vanity URL. Instead of a URL with a million confusing numbers at the end, it will look nice and clean like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pamelavaughan. Do so by going here and clicking "customize your public profile URL" down on the right-hand side.
2) Create a profile badge for your personal website.
If you have your own personal website or blog, you can promote your personal LinkedIn presence and help grow your professional network by adding a Profile Badge that links to your public LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has a few different badge designs to select from, and you can configure your own here.
3) Make your blog/website links sexier.
Instead of using the default "My Website"-type anchor text links in your LinkedIn profile, you can change the anchor text to make those links more appealing to people who view your profile. So if you want to increase clicks on the website links you can display on your profile, change the link's anchor text to something more attention-grabbing than the standard options LinkedIn provides. For example, if you want to include a link to your blog, rather than choosing LinkedIn's standard "Blog" anchor text, customize it to include keywords that indicate what your blog is about, like "Internet Marketing Blog." Each profile can display up to 3 website links like this, and they can be customized by editing your profile, clicking edit on your website links, and selecting "Other" in the drop-down menu to customize the anchor text.
4) Search engine optimize your profile.
You can also optimize your profile to get found by people searching LinkedIn for key terms with which you want to be associated. Add these keywords to various sections of your profile such as your headline or summary.
5) Install applications.
Did you know that LinkedIn provides a variety of different applications you can use to improve your LinkedIn profile? Browse the Application Directory, and consider adding the SlideShare application or linking your blog to showcase your presentations and blog articles on your profile. The Events application is also a great way to see what events your connections are attending and find other popular industry events to attend.
6) Rearrange your profile.
LinkedIn enables users to reorder the sections of their profile in any way they prefer. When in edit mode on your profile, simply hover your mouse over the title of each section. Your mouse will turn into a four-arrowed icon, at which point you can click then drag and drop to another position on your profile.
7) Take advantage of "Saved Searches."
LinkedIn allows users to create up to 3 saved searches. After conducting a search, clicking the “Save This Search” option allows you to save a search and easily run it again later. You can also choose to receive weekly or monthly reminders via email once new members in the network match your saved search criteria. Just click on the “Saved Searches” tab on the Advanced Search options page and select one of your saved searches to run again.
8) Extend the life of your questions.
Perhaps you're using the LinkedIn Answers feature to grow your knowledge of industry-related topics. If so, you may have noticed that, after a period of time, the opportunity closes for users to answer questions that are posed in the Answers feature of LinkedIn. To extend the life of the questions you ask and enable more time for users to provide answers, click on the "My Q&A" tab within Answers, click on the question you'd like to revive, and click "re-open this question to answers," which will open it up again for 7 more days.
9) Quickly turn your LinkedIn profile into a resume.
Job seeking is one of the most common -- and beneficial -- uses of LinkedIn. Were you aware that LinkedIn enables you to turn your profile into a resume-friendly format in seconds with its Resume Builder tool? Just choose a resume template, edit it, and export it as a PDF that you can print, email, and share.
10) Find a job with LinkedIn's job board.
Now that you've generated that awesome new resume from LinkedIn's Resume Builder tool, you can use it -- and LinkedIn's Job board -- to help you land an awesome job. LinkedIn allows you to search for jobs by industry and location. It even suggests jobs you might be interested in based on the information in your LinkedIn profile.
11) Get endorsed.
Back in September, LinkedIn launched a new feature called Endorsements, which enables users to endorse their connections for skills they’ve listed in the Skill & Expertise section of their profile -- or recommend one they haven’t yet listed. These endorsements then show up on your profile within that same Skills & Expertise section, as you can see in the screenshot to the right. Okay, so you can't guarantee your connections will endorse you for those skills, but because it's so easy for LinkedIn users to do (all they have to do is click on the + sign next to a particular skill on a user's profile), you'll find that many of them will do it anyway. Just make sure your profile is complete and you've listed the skills you want people to endorse you for. It will definitely give your profile a bit of a credibility boost.
Using LinkedIn for Professional Networking12) Use OpenLink to send messages to people you're not connected to.
Aside from the exception of group members (more on that in number 17), LinkedIn only allows you to send messages to people with which you share a first-degree connection. But did you know some people let you send them messages anyway, even if you're not connected? The ability to be part of the OpenLink network is only available to premium account holders, but it allows them to be available for messaging by any other LinkedIn member if they choose to be. OpenLink members will appear with an icon that looks like a small ring of dots next to their name in search results and on their profile.
13) Check in on "Network Updates."
Found on your LinkedIn homepage, Network Updates are kind of like your Facebook news feed. Check these periodically for a quick snapshot of what your connections are up to and sharing.
14) Be identifiable.
Find out who's checking out your profile by allowing others to see who you are if you view theirs. When you click the information under "Who's Viewed My Profile" on your profile page, you'll be able to view users who have looked at your profile, stats on your profile's number of views, and its appearances in search recently. To change this, go into your settings and click "See what others see when you've viewed their profile."
15) Export connections.
Want to transfer your LinkedIn connections to another contact management system? LinkedIn enables you to easily export your connections. Just click on "Contacts," "My Connections," and then scroll down and click "Export Connections." You have the option of either exporting as a .CSV or .VCF file.
16) Easily find email contacts on LinkedIn.
Speaking of connections, the LinkedIn Companion for Firefox is a great plugin that helps you identify the LinkedIn profiles of people who are emailing you. It also enables you to easily access other LinkedIn features via your browser.
17) Leverage the perks of LinkedIn Groups.
Did you know that if you're a member of the same group as another user, you can bypass the need to be a first-degree connection in order to message them? In addition, group members are also able to view the profiles of other members of the same group without being connected. Join more groups to enable more messaging and profile viewership capabilities.
18) Take advantage of advanced search options.
LinkedIn's Advanced Search feature provides a much richer search experience. For example, say you want to find out if you're connected to anyone that works at a specific company. Type the company name in the company field in Advanced Search, then sort the results by "Relationship" to see if you have any first or second degree connections to any employees.
19) Share your LinkedIn status updates on Twitter.
Ever since the LinkedIn/Twitter breakup at end of June, you can no longer automatically sync your tweets to publish on LinkedIn (or even selectively by using the hashtags #in or #li in specific tweets). But don't fret -- the opposite is still possible! So if you're ever posting an update to LinkedIn that you'd like your Twitter followers to see as well, you can easily syndicate that update to Twitter by checking off the Twitter checkbox before clicking "Share" in the LinkedIn update composer.
Using LinkedIn for Business/Marketing
20) Optimize for the new Company Page design.
Now that the new LinkedIn Company Page design has officially rolled out to everyone, it's important to optimize your Company Page so it's set up for the new layout. We've published an entire ebook about the layout changes and how to set up your page so it accommodates the new design, but at the very least, make sure you take advantage of a couple of the bigger aesthetic changes by adding a cover image, and making sure the images you've uploaded for your Product and Services Spotlights are still displaying well in the new design.
21) Post Company Status Updates (and target them!).
Make the most of your LinkedIn Company Page by publishing company status updates for all your page followers to see. This will give LinkedIn users even more reasons to follow your Company page and grow its LinkedIn reach. To learn how to enable LinkedIn Company Status Updates, read this post.
Been using Company Status Updates for a while? Why not step it up a notch and leverage the power of segmentation with LinkedIn's targeting options, which enable you to target your status updates to the Activity Feeds of specific users. Page admins can target their updates by criteria like company size, industry, job function, seniority, geography, or by including/excluding company employees. In fact, according to an internal LinkedIn study, examples have shown a 66%+ increase in audience engagement as the result of targeted updates.
Company Buzz is a helpful application that allows you to track what people are saying about your company and related topics on Twitter. Just install the application and customize your topics to view tweets, trends, and top keywords.
23) Add a video to your Company Page.
Make your business' Company Page more interactive by adding video. To do so, visit your Company Page as a page admin, click your Products tab and, on the "Edit" drop-down menu, click "Add a product or service." This enables you to create a new entry that features your video (or you can add a video to any existing product/service pages you've already set up). Currently, LinkedIn only supports videos that have been uploaded to YouTube.
24) Leverage LinkedIn Answers to its fullest marketing potential.
Besides the ability to ask questions, LinkedIn Answers also offers a great opportunity for users to share their expertise and thought leadership as well as link to content they've created that helps to answer others' questions. Have you provided a helpful answer (maybe one that was selected as the "Best Answer" by the user who asked the question?) to another's question lately? When you're on the question's page, click "Share This" beneath the question. You then have the option to share the question via LinkedIn message with up to 200 of your connections, bookmark it on Delicious, or grab the permalink to share in other ways.
But that's not all. LinkedIn Answers has a ton of other great marketing applications, including generating blog content ideas, getting a better understanding of marketing personas, gathering marketing campaign feedback, identifying industry influencers, seeking out guest bloggers, etc. Learn more about each of these marketing uses of LinkedIn Answers in this blog post.
25) Use LinkedIn Today to keep track of industry news.
LinkedIn Today is an awesome feature that provides you with the most popular stories that are shared on LinkedIn. Use it to stay on top of news occurring about marketing, the internet, computer software, etc. You can also sign up for email summary notifications of LinkedIn Today news.
26) Use LinkedIn to generate leads.
In an internal study of HubSpot's customer base, we found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost 3 times higher (277%) than both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%). So yes -- LinkedIn can help you generate leads. To get the most out of LinkedIn for lead generation, promote and share links to the landing pages for your marketing offers in your Company Status Updates, where appropriate in LinkedIn Answers and Groups, and on the Products & Services section of your Company Page. (Hint: Think of your offers as "products" themselves; see below.)
27) Created targeted Products & Services tab variations for your Company Page.
Company Status Updates aren't the only thing on your Company Page that you can target. Speaking of the Products & Services section of your page, were you aware that you can create different variations of this section to cater to different segments of your audience? This enables you to better target the content of this section to your various marketing personas, providing a more personalized experience for your Company Page visitors. Targeting options are similar to what's available in Company Status Update targeting, and you can learn how to set up your page variations in this step-by-step blog post.
28) Experiment with LinkedIn ads.
If you're looking to complement your organic marketing efforts with some paid advertising, LinkedIn ads aren't a bad choice to consider. We wrote about why B2B marketers might want to cozy up to LinkedIn ads, and one of the biggest benefits is ... you guessed it ... the targeting options! LinkedIn’s PPC ads let you target specific job titles, job functions, industries, or company size, to name a few options -- you know, the people who are more likely to need what you sell. And because they're relatively new, the competition is much lower than say, Google. If you want to get started with LinkedIn's advertising platform, here are answers to some of the top questions we've been asked about using LinkedIn ads.
29) Use Group Statistics for better targeting and marketing.
Another little LinkedIn gem that not a lot of users or marketers are aware of is the fact that you can access statistics for any LinkedIn Group -- even those you're not a member of! To access the Group Statistics for a specific LinkedIn group, find the group and click 'More' in the group's top navigation. Then click 'Group Statistics' from the drop-down menu.
Not only do LinkedIn Group Statistics tell you how many members are in a group or how active those members are; they also provide other key insights about the group's members such as locations, seniority, function, and industry. Use this data to analyze the makeup of a group before you decide to join, identify which LinkedIn Groups you should target in your LinkedIn ads, help guide you in the best ways to segment the variations of your Products & Services tab on your Company Page, or gather insights about your buyer personas to help you do better marketing outside of LinkedIn.
30) Create an industry LinkedIn Group (and subgroups).
Or you could just create a LinkedIn Group (as well as subgroups if you're so inclined) of your very own, like HubSpot did with our popular Inbound Marketers Group. Create a group based on an industry-related topic, and become a LinkedIn Group administrator. You can then use this Group to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, grow a community of advocates, generate new marketing content ideas, and even new leads! If you're interested in getting one started, check out our five tips for managing a LinkedIn Group first.
31) Email and poll that LinkedIn Group.
Generate leads from that group, you say? That's right! One of the perks of managing a LinkedIn Group is the fact that you can literally email the members of your group -- up to once per week. This email takes the form of LinkedIn Announcements, which are messages sent directly to the email inbox of the members of your LinkedIn Group. Whichever email a LinkedIn user includes on their profile will receive the LinkedIn Announcement. This is a prime opportunity for generating leads from LinkedIn, particularly if you've build up a robust Group of users. In fact, our best LinkedIn leads days are usually the days on which we've sent a LinkedIn Announcement. Here's how to get the most out of your LinkedIn emails.
In addition to emailing, you can also poll your group members. Just go to the group in which you want to publish a poll (it's up to group managers to decide whether everyone can publish polls regardless of group membership), hit 'Poll', enter your question, and schedule for how long you'd like your poll to run. (Hint: If you're trying to increase membership for your own LinkedIn Group, make use of the Twitter checkbox that allows you to share your poll on Twitter and get your group more traffic, activity, and membership.) Use polls to generate blog and content fodder, get feedback, conduct research, attract new group members, or get ideas for new marketing offers.
32) Collect recommendations.
Recommendations are a powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool. And you might already be aware of the LinkedIn recommendation feature that lets users leave recommendations for other users (a plus for professional networking, of course). But did you know you could also collect recommendations for your Company Page's products and services, too? That's right! Users can leave a recommendation for anything you feature within the Products & Services tab of your Company Page. And when you click on an individual item on that page, you'll see all the user-generated reviews of that product or service! What's really cool is, not only can you have your product or service reviewed, but you can also generate reviews of your marketing offers if you choose to list them there, as we mentioned in number 28.
Encourage your prospects and customers to use LinkedIn as a recommendation platform, and once you've collected some awesome recommendations, use them as testimonials on your website.
33) Recruit new talent.
Looking to fill a position or two on your marketing team -- or anywhere else within your company, for that matter? Then be sure to build out the Careers tab on your Company Page, which you can use to promote your available job openings. For more robust Careers tab customization options, you can also purchase a Silver or Gold Careers package which allows you to add a large, clickable cover image that can be transformed into a call-to-action. This image can direct users to a specific job, a list of jobs and opportunities located on your website, or examples of your company’s culture. Below this image you might see a list of jobs, people at your company, a summary section for your careers, what employees are saying about working at your company, and recent updates. The look and feel of this page depends on what information and images you choose to include.
Furthermore, if you're actively recruiting candidates with specific skills and expertise, don't forget about LinkedIn's Advanced Search feature!
34) Add the Company Follow and LinkedIn share buttons to your website/content.
Promote your company's LinkedIn presence and help grow the reach of your Company Page
by adding the Company Follow button to your website. Furthermore, consider adding the LinkedIn share button to your various content assets like blog posts, emails, and landing pages to extend the reach of your content to LinkedIn users. To build these buttons and more, visit LinkedIn's plugins page here.
Want to take advantage of some even more LinkedIn features and capabilities? Think about upgrading to a pro account for even more LinkedIn awesomeness.
What other LinkedIn tricks do you use to take the most advantage of your LinkedIn presence? Share them in the comments below!