When professional speaker and trainer Lavinia Thanapathy posted on LinkedIn that she had quit her job, she was approached by at least a dozen headhunters. But her story is not uncommon.

With over 875 million users, LinkedIn has arguably become one of the most powerful tools for ambitious individuals looking to climb the career ladder. But while many of us treat LinkedIn as a virtual depository for dumping our resumes, the platform offers a treasure trove of tools and opportunities for individuals to stand out.

“What’s unique about LinkedIn is that it’s not content creation for the sake of entertainment – it’s about creation for economic opportunity,” says Pooja Chhabria, head of editorial, content and creators at LinkedIn APAC.

But how does one create economic opportunity on LinkedIn? There is an art to using LinkedIn, and like any platform, it has plenty of tricks up its sleeve to encourage discoverability and opportunity. We ask the experts for their top tips, so you don’t have to do the hard work.

Start with your “why”

“Professionals who have been able to build a strong community through their content are the ones who have a clear purpose and have defined their niche,” explains Pooja.

Pooja Chhabria is the head of editorial, content and creators at LinkedIn

“For example, as a successful entrepreneur, your ‘why’ can help other entrepreneurs build their businesses. Or, as a full-time working professional, you want to provide guidance to students on how to kickstart their careers. Starting with a purpose will give you clarity on what you want to talk about and how to communicate your thoughts. By staying true to your purpose, you can find your own voice that is authentic, unique, and consistent.”

Avoid damaging your brand 

Brenda Bence, president of Brenda Bence International and executive coach, author and keynote speaker, has coached top executives from the likes of Google, Shell, and Deloitte. As a LinkedIn Top Voice, she also encourages users to curate a thoughtful identity on LinkedIn: “Pretend you are at an in-person networking event… how would you interact? Just like at an in-person event, you want to make good first impressions, and your LinkedIn account should do the same.

“Think of the brand you want to create – I define your brand as the way you want others to perceive, think, and feel about you.  Consider this:  what five descriptive words/adjectives would you want others to use to describe you as a professional? Keep those five words in mind and make sure your profile reflects them.”

Brenda Bence, President of Brenda Bence International and executive coach, author and keynote speaker

Importantly, she adds, “Avoid damaging your brand: your brand online and offline should be in sync. So, keep in mind how you act, react, look, sound, and think when communicating on LinkedIn should be consistent with how you do the same beyond the LinkedIn platform.”

Define your language 

This starts with the way that you write the About section on your LinkedIn profile. Lavinia suggests, “Your About section should be written for the person you are today and looking forward into the future, not the past. Only use enough from the past for credibility. Many people write their About section as if they are already dead and this is their autobiography. Make it current and make it readable and tell people what you do and what you want to do.”

Brenda adds that it’s important to ensure that your profile is “consistent in tone, manner and wording”. She advises:

  • “Use ‘I’ in your language (first person), not third person. You are ‘talking with’ someone, so you shouldn’t refer to yourself as ‘she, ‘he’, or ‘they.
  • Be sure to use active verbs when describing your work experience – ‘I lead,’ ‘I organised’, ‘I am managing’…
  • Demonstrate your results at work, as possible, with numbers and examples. Talk about your own personal growth stemming from each project you led or job experience you’ve had.
  • Maintain the appropriate balance between being professional yet personal/approachable. Again, use the language you would use at a business conference – friendly yet smart.
  • Spell check. I’ve heard of recruiters who automatically reject a candidate simply because there were typos in their profiles.
  • Get endorsements and use the skills section to highlight your superpowers.”

Make sure your profile is search optimised 

Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn is search optimised – which means that if someone Googles your name, your profile will most likely be one of the top hits. “Linkedin is very different to other platforms because at its core, it’s a database. It’s where people come to find and be found,” says Lavinia. “When I discovered this for myself, then I started to realise that its magic lay in being able to use it for my personal search engine optimization.

Lavinia Thanapathy is a LinkedIn Top Voice, keynote speaker and trainer

“Linkedin has extremely high domain authority so any search of most people’s names will turn up their Linkedin Profile in one of the first hits on their name. Now that you know this, you have to to think about how your want to appear to the world. Everyone who meets you is likely to google you. What do you want them to find? Make a list and put these wonderful professional nuggets into your Linkedin profile.”

She adds, “Your headline should contain all the words that that you want to be found for. Keywords are crucial as this section is heavily indexed for search by Google.”

Don’t worry about likes 

You might have noticed that you often discover posts from people you don’t follow because a connection has liked their post, or re-shared it. It’s easy to reach a wide audience on LinkedIn, but Lavinia cautions that we shouldn’t “worry too much about likes”. She says, “Going viral for the sake of going viral is just vanity. You are most likely just looking for a handful of new clients, leads or potential jobs. Quality over quantity on Linkedin works for most people. Some of my best clients have come from some of my least liked articles or posts.

“Linkedin is filled with powerful lurkers. People who have the budget and influence to give you your next job and they rarely connect or even press like on your posts. But they are there watching and reading your profile and your content. So don’t fret about your numbers. Focus on your goal.”

Switch on creator mode

Once you’ve defined your content strategy, LinkedIn’s Pooja suggests to switch to creator mode. She adds that more than 13 million users have leveraged on creator mode to “boost their profile, support audience engagement and help build a following.”

Here are the benefits of turning on creator mode:

  • “Get Featured: By turning on Creator mode, members will have the opportunity to be featured across the LinkedIn ecosystem. This is a great way to build an audience outside of your current connections.
  • Unlock New Tools: All members that turn on creator mode will automatically receive access to tools like LinkedIn Live and Newsletters, as well as newer formats such as Audio Events and new visual product features.
  • Optimise your Content Strategy: Creators have access to enhanced analytics specifically designed to help them optimise their content strategy. From total impression numbers to engagement statistics, to deeper single post analytics and audience analytics, creators can have insights into what’s resonating with their audience and driving conversations, all at their fingertips.”

Optimise your post

“Don’t edit your post within the first hour of posting. It messes with the algorithm and your post will flounder,” shares Lavinia. “Engage with the comments on your post especially in the first hour. Don’t be the first person to comment on your post. LinkedIn’s algorithm favours conversation in the comments so respond to comments promptly to nudge the algorithm.”

Pooja adds another hack: “Accessibility is another facet to keep in mind to make sure your content is inclusive for professionals with disabilities. Alternative text describes your visual media – providing context to people who have vision challenges, while closed captioning your videos enables them to reach people who may have hearing difficulties.”

And lastly, leverage on hashtags, advise both Pooja and Lavinia. “Adding relevant hashtags helps surface your content to members and hence expands discoverability for your content,” says Pooja. “Hashtags also act as keywords to provide clarity into the type of article you’ve written. Mentioning professionals from your network will also encourage them to join the conversation.”