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Rajesh Gontu, Crosby MBARajesh Gontu is a first-year Crosby MBA student earning the Marketing Analytics Certificate. Before coming to MU, Rajesh worked as a software engineer at Altair, utilizing his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.  Since entering the Crosby MBA Program, he has served as a Graduate Research Assistant, conducting in-depth market research for ReadToHear LLC. He hopes to apply his analytics skills to a fast-paced multinational or startup firm. It goes without saying that he has a rock star level LinkedIn Profile. 

As we know, there are a ton of articles on what to do and what not do on LinkedIn. From “4 ways to become relevant on LinkedIn,” to “7 tips to Rank #1 on LinkedIn,” and “Five LinkedIn tricks to boost your site rank,” the lists are exhaustive. So how useful is an additional article on LinkedIn? Instead of writing, “6 reasons why you need to read this article about LinkedIn,” I will let that be a question for you to answer.


1. Personal Identity and LinkedIn Profile

In this professional personal branding site, the most important part is the LinkedIn profile photo. A survey from British social media consultancy, LinkHumans, reveals that adding a profile photo could increase the page views by 14 times. I heard that quite a lot of times. But what is surprising is this. An eye-tracking research study from The Ladders found that, 19% of the recruiter’s scanning time is spent on profile picture.

You can refer to this study by PhotoFeeler to understand what elements of a profile photo convey likeability, competence and influence. Next in prominence to the profile photo are the summary and headline which directly affect the rank in LinkedIn search. It is not only important to rank high in the search but also to be relevant. As informative as generic keywords are, they can be quite dangerous for anyone’s personal brand. Motivated, passionate, creative and responsible are among the most overused buzzwords in LinkedIn. It is just like deciding the name of a website or company, product etc.

If I have a laptop company and the domain URL is laptop.com I do not have a brand, though I may get millions of page views.

On the other extreme, if the URL is sibiscric.com, it is hard to find the site in a search, unless it is already a brand. The optimal keywords for the LinkedIn summary lie in the middle of this range.

Too generic or too specific: both are detrimental. Customizing the LinkedIn URL is like choosing your Twitter handle. I don’t see any reason why one should tweet with an illegible handle.

2. All-Star vs Expert. Is “Expert” good enough?

All Star LinkedIn Profile graph

I came to realize the power of All-Star only after I earned this ranking. Though the visual difference is less in LinkedIn, there is a huge difference between the profile strength of All-Star and Expert. My page rank, profile visits and connections all drastically increased after my profile strength changed from Expert to All-Star.

If there is only one thing I should say that directly affected my LinkedIn presence, I would choose this. Complete the profile.

3. Quality vs LIONs

The debate on quality versus quantity in LinkedIn is never ending in LinkedIn. To understand both the sides of the story, it is good to look at how LinkedIn searches. The concept of degrees in LinkedIn is similar to the concept of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. LinkedIn searches look only for the first, second and third degree connections.

Having more connections optimizes the rank.

Not only do you end up being in the top search and rank results, but also have a huge network that increases your outreach. LION stands for LinkedIn Open Networker. This title tells that one is open for new connections. Many people chose this designation to expand their network.

Joining a LION group is another way to reach a size-goal, but here comes the problem of quality. Accepting unknown contacts leads to many “unknown connections”. This only dilutes the network. It is like having a network of prisoners. The connection I just added is “Connection 1,634.” A number that doesn’t mean anything to me. Relying on quality means having meaningful connections.

You don’t always have to personally know the person you’re connecting to, but it helps if you have a goal when you send them a connection message, “I’m interested in your company, and I noticed you also graduated from the University of Missouri. Would you be interested in connecting?”

I guess the distinction between the two comes down to your preference. Do you want a network of names or numbers?

4. 500 is the magic number! Not quite

Magic is only magic until you know the trick. 500 used to be the LinkedIn magic number. Not anymore. Because of the LinkedIn publisher, anyone can see the number of connections anyone has on LinkedIn. The number disclosed in the “View recent activity” link is the sum of total connections and followers. If the person doesn’t have followers, it shows the number of connections.

For a detailed method on finding the number of connections a LinkedIn member has, you can refer to this.

While the size of your network does matter, having quality connections is more important to maintain your brand. The 500 benchmark matters more in certain professions than in others. Do chase the numbers, but don’t suffer in quality.

5. Engage

So far I have talked about the necessity of LinkedIn profile features and the importance of quality of connections. I have tried to follow all of them. However, engaging the connections is something which I have yet to master. Creating content, joining groups, participating in discussions, asking questions, answering queries etc. fall into the concept of engaging. While it can be used to position oneself as a thought master, it can also be used to develop a holistic profile.

At the very least, it is for reminding your connections that you are alive.

Like any other social media, it needs constant attention. You reap what you sow.