When it comes to social media, women outnumber men on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But more men than women use LinkedIn—and they use it differently.
“Women tend to promote themselves—and their successes—less,” reports LinkedIn data scientist Rachel Bowley in a 2017 article. Men have larger LinkedIn networks than women and promote only their higher-level roles, while women write shorter profiles and include 11% fewer skills than men.
With over 500 million people using LinkedIn, including 92% of recruiters, isn’t it time to start really utilizing this connection tool?
Promotional advice for women in business
These steps will help you get the greatest benefit from LinkedIn:
Create a profile that represents you. In a blog last year, LinkedIn’s Jane Fleming refers to the profile page as “the foundation for your personal branding.” Some suggestions:
- Use a professional-looking, current profile photo. Smile. Use a background photo for additional branding.
- Communicate through your headline how you want to be seen professionally.
- Craft a unique story for your summary. Don’t just list your work history; show connections how your expertise can help them.
- Update the skill section—the more skills, the more profile views and opportunities—and add work samples to the media section.
- Add volunteering experience or publications.
Look to connect with others. Branding consultant William Arruda recommends a “connections strategy” to build your network in an article for Forbes. So once you’re ready to show the world your profile, get busy taking names.
- Sync your profile with your email address book.
- Always send a (personalized) connection request after you meet someone.
- If you haven’t met, tell them why you’d like to connect.
- Don’t ask for work or pitch a product when you’ve just connected.
Arruda points out that the more you connect, the more frequently you’ll show up in searches and the more full profiles you’ll see.
Join the club(s): LinkedIn groups are your audience. You have access to a huge number of people who are interested in the same topics as you, according to Arruda. Find groups that are populated with your target audience. Then:
- Introduce yourself.
- Provide regular status updates.
- Like, comment on, and share others’ posts.
- Share content from other sites, adding your own commentary.
Groups are not the place to pitch your business; they’re for sharing knowledge and stories.
Find your best advocates. Try something radical: Contact some former bosses and ask for recommendations. Anyone can endorse you with just a click, but personal recommendations help elevate your status.
LinkedIn offers the following advice: “The best recommendations come from people who value your work…managers, colleagues, co-workers, customers, and clients.”
Give-and-take is the name of the game. Turn around and write recommendations for other people—it’s a great way to nurture connections and be remembered.
Start writing. As you expand your network, explore LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform, where you can write longer pieces to promote your service, product, or area of expertise.
With these steps, women in business can use LinkedIn more effectively—and that means gaining more exposure and building their professional image.
“It can sometimes feel selfish or egotistical to invest time in marketing ourselves,” Fleming notes in her post. “However, when we neglect personal branding, we don’t just sell ourselves short—we also miss a big opportunity from a marketing perspective.”
Build your LinkedIn platform by connecting with other professional women at one of AMA’s Women’s Leadership Center live events.