Most schools have a peripheral understanding of how to promote themselves on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter but are completely stumped when it comes to LinkedIn.
Maybe you’re one of the many who have been left scratching your head after creating a profile, or maybe you’ve been avoiding the process altogether.
Whatever the case may be, LinkedIn remains one of the key social media networks for schools, and if you aren’t an active part of this community yet, now’s your time.
Here’s our crash course on learning the basics of LinkedIn.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn currently houses over 562 million users and continues to steadily increase this number with as many as 2 users added per second, according to Smart Business Trends.
This fast-growing social media site is designed with professionals, jobseekers and businesses in mind.
Why Use LinkedIn?
The power of LinkedIn specifically lies in the power of networking. With networking connections, leads and tips being created… opportunities to grow your network of contents by quite literally, “Linking” yourself to the vast community of professionals across fields.
You can join groups, collect information, uncover events in the area and add your own professional contributions to the fold.
All members of this website who get what LinkedIn is trying to do are there for the same reason: creating a business network.
You won’t find this type of condensed business-focused environment on any other “big dog” social media website.
Step 1: Setting Up Your LinkedIn Account Properly
When you first join LinkedIn, you set up a profile as you, yourself, the person that you are – not the school or university that you represent.
“Your LinkedIn Profile is like a supercharged resume that lets you showcase your experience and expertise” – Constant Contact
You will then upload a photo, fill out your information and set out to build your network of friends, family, co-workers, professionals and more.
Setting up your account properly is one of the most important steps in your LinkedIn journey.
In fact, according to Smart Business Trends, only half (50.5%) of all LinkedIn users have actually completed their profiles.
Yes, you read that correctly – 1 in 2 users aren’t anywhere near getting the results that they would like, just because of less-than-average profiles. Don’t be those users. Here’s what you should do:
- Upload a professional photo – we’re in an age of visual stimulation so a professional photo matters now more than ever. Your photo should be of a high-quality image resolution, up-to-date and professional (i.e. you’re not holding a beer or wearing a bikini… or holding a beer while wearing a bikini).
- Create a professional headline – your headline is one of the first things people see when they come to your LinkedIn page. Use a headline that accurately reflects your professional experience, like “Marketing Manager at Name of Your School”, clear and articulate is best.
- Create a summary – this is where you tell prospective candidates or other connections who you are, what skills or experience you have and why you are a valuable connection.
- Additional information – if you have other online profiles, like a website, blog, Facebook Page or professional Twitter handle, link them here.
Step 2: Building a Network
Now that you’ve established an identity on LinkedIn, it is time to build out your network.
Go slow. It may be tempting to send out mass invitations to any and everyone you know. Resist. It is important to connect carefully and mindfully on LinkedIn.
You want to present value to those you are networking with and conversely, you want them to provide you networking value right back.
This connection starts with a personalised invitation.
When you invite someone to connect with someone, LinkedIn will automatically draft you a default invitation for you. Whenever possible, replace this with a personalised message.
Taking the extra time to really explain why you want to join their network shows you that you are actually a valuable connection rather than someone who is strictly looking to build out their profile.
Some LinkedIn users gets dozens of requests a week – if they don’t know why you’re connecting, they’ll reject you.
- First, connect with the people you know, trust and value on a professional level. Co-workers, business partners and other professional connections are a good place to start.
- Second, connect with family and friends that are trusted connections.
This can be a good way to expand your network outside of your own industry, but again, make sure these connections provide you with specific value.
Step 3: Become Socially Active
Many professionals fall into the trap of creating a profile and stopping there. To really take advantage of LinkedIn as a networking tool, it is essential that you join the social aspect of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is built with the ability to post content to your personal profile for your network to see. You can share valuable articles and news stories written by others, though it is even better if you share your own valuable content – like a blog post or a video.
Key Point: Value is important in these posts, as these are displayed directly on your profile. Funny jokes, sports rants, pictures of your kids and more don’t belong here. Keep that stuff to your personal Facebook page.
LinkedIn posts should be strictly professional and, in some way, communicate the value you present as an industry professional or the value that the school you work for presents.
Step 4: Create a Page For Your School
A School page is, effectively, an extension of your LinkedIn personal page. As you’ve probably already noticed, LinkedIn is primarily structured for individual-to-individual connections, as your profile creates a picture of you, the individual, rather than a specific school you represent.
However, building out a page allows you to paint a picture of your school. If your school doesn’t already have a page, and you’re authorised to create one, do.
Through this page, you can post job openings, highlight events and services and engage with followers – all as your school name and brand.
Set up your page by going to Interests, then selecting Companies. From there, you’ll see Add a Company on the right side of the screen. Follow these prompts, employing a similar strategy that you did in setting up your personal profile, using a high-quality logo for the picture.
Step 5: Join Groups
Groups are discussion forums on LinkedIn that share some common understanding. This is a great place to continue your social networking that we described in Step 3, sharing valuable content with targeted groups.
You can search for groups to join based on keywords pertaining to education or even start your own group.
LinkedIn also gives you suggestions for groups that may be applicable to you, so get exploring!
Step 6: Explore News Updates and Events
LinkedIn is a great way to stay up to date with industry happenings in your area and around the world.
In the News Updates category of the site, you can personalise your preferences to connect you to top news stories within your field of expertise or interest, displayed in LinkedIn Today as a news digest.
This can be a great resource to you in building your own content, or for redistribution on LinkedIn.
You can also take advantage of LinkedIn Events, which allows you to search for events based on industry, location and company to find events you may like to attend for further networking. Events that you post will also show up here.
Take a Deep Breath, and Dive In
If building a social profile seems overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s natural.
Understanding the inner workings of a new website takes a little time and exploration. Use this basic framework as a guide for getting your profile up-and-running, but the real fun part is actually building those connections and learning the network yourself.
Should you come across any problems building your LinkedIn profile or have any questions for us at all, we’d love to help!