Every year LinkedIn changes dramatically and 2021 has been no exception, with massive changes to how our LinkedIn profiles look, a roll out that began in November. But there have been changes and updates all year and this article reflects these.
How the 77 Tips work
This checklist has been set out in sections that each relate to a separate aspect of the platform.
It covers everything you need to know to make LinkedIn work for you – whether that’s becoming known in your industry; developing as a thought leader in your business; generating leads for your company; widening your network of peers, colleagues and leaders; or enhancing your profile to boost your chances of being spotted when a potential client is searching for someone with your skills.
Here are the topics covered:
- 5 Important Changes to LinkedIn in 2021
- Company pages
- Direct messaging
5 Important Changes to LinkedIn in 2021
- Providing Services is no longer a section to ignore.
The Services section sits in the top section of your profile, making it highly visible. From here you can add a short About section, list your services, request and display client reviews and send and receive requests for proposals. It also has an impact on how easily you can be found in searches.
- Choose wisely about turning on Content Creator
The upsides of switching on this function are that your Activity section shows 6 of your most recently published posts, and your follower number and nominated hashtags display in your Intro section. The downsides are that your follower number displays in the intro and that your Connect button changes to Follow. It has been reported that any improved visibility of your posts – the intent of this new feature – takes two months.
- Understand the latest profile changes and implement them on your profile.
In late 2021, LinkedIn revamped our profiles which changed how a number of sections display and slightly reorders them. Update your profile to take these into account. There’s a brief overview of the changes here: https://bit.ly/2YOY0Dc
- Planning an event? Use LinkedIn’s ever-improving Events feature to promote it.
LinkedIn has made Lives available to most company pages which is an excellent place from which to host an event. The event page has its own URL and news feed, you can invite 1000 connections a week whose attendance is added to their Highlights section, and if it’s a Live, the resulting video drops neatly into the Video tab under Posts on the page.
- Newsletters allow you to send value-added content direct to subscribers’ inboxes.
The newsletter function began rolling out in earnest in the 4th quarter of 2021, resulting in a deluge of invites arriving in members’ mailboxes. That unfortunately meant many invites to good ones were turned down simply because of the sheer volume. If you want to produce a newsletter, wait until the flurry has subsided or until they become available on company pages which, we are reliably informed, is not very far away.
- Company pages have undergone significant change and are more useful than ever.
From LinkedIn Lives to product and service pages, LinkedIn company pages are now more valuable to businesses large and small than they have ever been before. If you have not looked at pages in the past 12 months, take another look at what’s available – you will be pleasantly surprised.
- Update your profile image to include the cover video.
LinkedIn now makes it possible to include a short video in the Introduction section to your profile. When someone visits your profile, it plays on mute for 3 seconds. Record this in portrait mode and include captions.
- Make your profile banner eye-catching and information rich.
This adds visual interest to your LinkedIn profile, helping you stand out. When you include a tagline, web address and relevant background image to your cover, it grabs attention. This is valuable and important real estate that is often overlooked.
- Ensure your profile image doesn’t hide an important part of your profile banner.
Profile photos sit at the left of your banner so don’t place critical information where it will be hidden.
- Cover image words need to be BIG.
The dimensions of the cover image change, depending on the device being used so always look at how it will display on both desktop and mobile to ensure the text can be clearly read. The size ratio between profile image and cover image also changes; on mobile the cover image becomes smaller than on desktop.
- Claim your personal LinkedIn URL.
Having a personal URL allows you to use it neatly and tidily in your marketing without a multi-digit suffix. The result is then your version of www.linkedin.com/in/lynnairejohnston rather than www.linkedin.com/in/lynnairejohnston-a9b16343.
- Update and complete your contact information so people can easily find you.
LinkedIn allows you to add a physical/postal address, an email address, your phone number, three websites, your Twitter handle and a range of instant messenger platforms including Skype. Include as many as you have.
- Write a meaningful, impactful, attention-grabbing headline.
This should not be your job title. A good formula is what you do, who for and the benefits they gain. Headlines can be 220 characters long so there’s plenty of space to include any key words that help you to be found in searches.
- Use all three website listing opportunities offered in the Contact Info section.
Even if you have only one website, choose three different pages, list those URLs and describe what visitors will find there. There are 30 characters available for this. If you haven’t checked the websites you have listed for some time, do so to see if they need updating.
- Display the university you attended.
If you have a tertiary qualification from a recognised university or polytechnic, tick the box that asks if you wish to show Education in the top section of your profile. If you don’t have a tertiary qualification but went to a ‘good’ school, add its name. Connect to the organisation’s LinkedIn page (listed under Schools) to display their logo.
- No tertiary qualifications to display? Add your professional development courses.
Most of us have completed some kind of course or courses as part of our jobs or in our businesses. Instead of thinking of Education as being only academic, think of it as the different skills you’ve learned. List any courses you have done and the organisation that offered them.
- Add your location and post code.
LinkedIn claims that profiles with a precise location (city as opposed to country only) come up in more searches. If you work nationally or internationally, you’ll need to decide which is more important – that people know where you are located or that you are not confined to working in your local area.
- Use the About section to tell your story.
This section, which sits in position 3 on your profile, is an opportunity to summarise your career, showcase your skills, identify your points of difference and persuade readers you can solve their problems. Write it in the first person, not the more impersonal third. Use emojis and lists for visual interest and ease of reading.
- Add a call to action to your summary.
Make it easy for people to get in touch by adding those contact details you are comfortable sharing. Give them a reason for doing so by offering a free download, useful document, white paper or other helpful information.
- Use the Featured section to good advantage.
To give your profile visual interest, include media. This could be images, videos, documents, certifications, website links, posts and articles – anything that is relevant to your work. This helps you stand out from others in your field while also enhancing your own credibility and reputation in the industry. Update this often. Three items display in the new-look profile.
- Rearrange your Experience section and list it by skills or services.
Move away from the CV or resumé style of profile. Be creative and group your experience into sections that make sense for you. If you’re a business owner, that might be by the products or services you sell, or the audiences you serve. If you have multiple skill sets, list these and detail the work you’ve done, for whom and the results.
- Link to appropriate company pages.
More and more companies now have an official company page and linking to it displays the logo on your profile. This will mean ensuring you have the same name on your profile as the LinkedIn company page listing. If you have your own company, set up a company page even if it’s merely a placeholder.
- Aim to get 70+ on your social selling index (SSI)
The higher your SSI, the more the algorithm helps you to reach your audience through posts, the more you appear in searches and the better overall results you will achieve. You can see your SSI score at https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi
- Experience is more than just jobs.
If you have had governance roles with not-for-profit organisations, written a book or done something noteworthy outside your employment, add it to your Experience section. Leaving it to the Accomplishments section virtually guarantees it won’t be seen. Plus, you can include images, links or visual media.
- Don’t ignore the Accomplishments section just because it’s at the end.
The categories you can add include courses, honours and awards, organisations, publications, projects, patents and languages. You can add descriptions and URLs but not images.
- Add to your Recommendations. You can never have too many.
Every time you receive a compliment for a job well done, ask for a recommendation. Send a request by going to the person’s profile, clicking More under the cover image and choosing Recommend. Always send a personalised message with your request even if you’ve previously arranged for a connection to write one.
- Collect up to 20 5-star reviews in your Providing Services section.
The more 5-star reviews you display, the higher your social proof. LinkedIn is a very trusted website so reviews that appear here have credibility. In order to ensure you receive only 5-star reviews, make sure the clients you invite to review you have agreed before inviting them as you cannot remove the review. Any reviews less than 5-stars bring down your overall score.
- Tidy up your Skills section and turn on Skills & Endorsements.
Remove duplicate or similar skills so your endorsement numbers are higher. Delete anything not relevant to your work, especially skills LinkedIn has added automatically. Take out any skills with less than 10 endorsements or work to get them into double figures by asking people to endorse you.
- Set up a company page for your business.
Every company wanting to use LinkedIn in its marketing needs a company page, not least because it’s free, high-value online real estate. This should include all the contact and business information, plus an overview of what the company does, for whom and the points of difference.
- Add followers.
You can invite 100 connections per month to follow your page, and for every one who accepts, you can invite one extra person. Unused invites at the end of the month do NOT roll over to the next month. You need around 500 followers to begin to get traction on your page’s posts.
- Replace the default company page banner image with one that represents your brand.
If possible, have it match the cover image on your profile so there is continuity between the two. Elements you could include are a tag line and/or web URL. LinkedIn recommends the image be 1128 x 191 px.
- Include your logo. Without it your profile won’t display it, either.
The designated space for the logo is a square, which makes it difficult if your logo is long and thin. An alternative is to have a second version of your logo that is ‘stacked’, with one line above the other so it looks squarer.
- Add images, documents and videos.
This is free online real estate so make the most of it by including media (videos, images, documents etc) that represents your business in the best possible way. These are added by way of posts as you would on your profile.
- Post regularly on your company page.
While followers of your company page will be the most likely to see posts from there, if you share posts through your own feed by commenting on the post they will be more widely seen. Have other team members do the same. Post two to three times a week, every week to build momentum.
- Separate your company page from yourself.
If you are a business owner, you may be seen AS the business. Make it clear that you are not just the business by publishing posts from the page that are different from your personal profile posts. This could be as simple as talking about the business in the third person and yourself in the first.
- Create and run events from your company page.
New functionality for Events in 2021 means it is easier and more effective to create events on LinkedIn, to invite attendees and to promote them. LinkedIn Lives are now also available through company pages and I predict we will see a higher use of these than in the past.
- Posting quality content regularly is the best way to build a following.
Consistent posting is rewarded by the algorithm which will distribute your posts more widely. Conversely, disappear after a few weeks or months and when you reappear you will be starting from scratch again. Another reason to show up week after week is that it helps you build an audience of followers who see your name as being synonymous with quality content.
- Use all the different post formats available.
There are four main types of posts: text-only, video, image, polls and document. Interchange them so there’s plenty of variety for your followers and connections to see. Articles are also good to include once a month or so to build credibility and a reputation as an expert in your field.
- Polls offer the opportunity to conduct mini surveys.
Through a short question (140 characters max) and up to 4 answers (each 30 characters max) you can find out what your audience thinks of a certain idea. If you choose your poll topic well and get a good response, you can write a post-poll piece about the results.
- Posts can now be up to 3000 characters long.
In 2021, LinkedIn increased the maximum post length from 1200 characters to 3000 and many people increased their post length, too. Research shows that the optimum character count for any type of post is 1470 because the longer reading time is noted and rewarded by the algorithm.
- Document posts generally do well in terms of reach and engagement.
The best format is the square Instagram-style carousel. Your documents need to be visually appealing and not text-heavy. Remember that they are likely to be viewed on a mobile device. Doc posts also need an introduction.
- Only post videos that have captions.
Many people can’t listen to a video if they are in an office, travelling or don’t have headphones. Give them the opportunity to see your text instead, via captions. There are plenty of apps that help with this. The one we use is rev.com which is cheap and easy to use.
- Be professional in your videos.
LinkedIn is a business platform so your videos should be about your business or at least business-related. There’s no reason you can’t be personal in them, though. If you’re videoing yourself be warm, friendly, personable and professional.
- Choose carefully whether to turn on Creator mode.
Creator mode is designed to help those who post content regularly. But turning it on does a number of things you need to consider first. It changes your Connect button to Follow, it displays your number of followers and it adds the hashtags you nominate to your introduction section.
- Encourage engagement on your posts.
Posts perform best when they receive likes and comments within the first 24 hours of publishing. Have a small network of colleagues who are willing to engage on your posts and send them the post once it is uploaded using the Send button underneath the post.
- Text-only posts can be made more visually appealing by adding emoticons.
This is extremely useful for bulleted lists and can include 📍 💠 ▶ ◼ 🔎 📌 etc.
- Adding a link to a post no longer represses views.
For many moons LinkedIn penalised posts containing links. This is no longer the case, at least not to the same degree. Now your best strategy is to include the link when you upload the post because editing it after posting within the first few hours to add the link restricts views.
- Writing only promotional posts is not best practice.
A good rule of thumb is to upload one promotional post for every five value-added posts. That way you are showcasing your knowledge while helping others instead of merely touting for business which is off-putting to many on LinkedIn.
- Use 3–5 hashtags at the end of each post.
Choose a mix of highly popular (100,000+ followers) and your own such as your company name. Make hashtags relevant to your post.
- Don’t tag people in posts in the hopes they will comment.
This strategy doesn’t work; it only irritates those you’ve irrelevantly tagged and if they do not respond, your post will be penalised. Do, however, tag people who appear in photos you post. Or tag people and then send them the post to comment on.
- Articles still have a place in LinkedIn publishing.
While articles are more time-consuming to produce and rarely receive as many views as posts, they are nonetheless important for topics that require more than 3000 characters or are complex. They build into a library which increases your credibility. Aim for at least one article per quarter. Furthermore, articles remain archived on your profile and can be added to Featured while posts have a shorter lifespan.
- Polls currently receive the highest number of views.
Research indicates that they receive 450% more views than a one-image post. Both text-only and document posts perform best. This is because of the time viewers spend reading them and reflects the algorithmic formula ‘dwell time’.
- Posts attracting comments in their first 24 published hours are seen by more people.
Engagement is the key to posts performing strongly. Comments are the most useful, shares are the least. Authors who reply to comments quickly see greater reach of their posts.
- Commenting is the most valuable form of engagement and is a win-win.
Commenting on another person’s post makes you a good LinkedIn citizen, gets you noticed by other people and, depending on what you write, demonstrates your own knowledge of the topic under discussion. Don’t write comments that are less than 5 words long as they do not help the post gain traction and don’t do much to enhance your credibility either.
- Hijacking posts is frowned on.
Making comments unrelated to the post and promoting your own business will not endear you to other LinkedIn members. By all means add to the conversation but not at the expense of the original poster. They have the option to delete your comment and also report you to LinkedIn.
- Sharing doesn’t work so be creative instead.
The algorithm doesn’t promote shared posts very widely. If you want to share someone’s post or article a better plan is to write a post about it yourself and include the link. That way you’re being credited with the post and it gives you an opportunity to add your take on the issue under discussion.
- Send your post to others for their engagement
LinkedIn has added a Send button at the end of posts which allows you to direct message your post to people you would like to comment on it. This is important if you have tagged someone in the post because they are more likely to spot a DM than a notification. LinkedIn penalises posts where the tagged person does not respond.
- Respond to comments on your posts smartly.
The faster you can reply to comments people leave on your posts, the better your post will do. For most effect comment within the first 24 hours. After that, if the post is doing well, respond to comments just as often as you can.
- Connect with people who comment on your posts if they are not part of your network.
Second and third degree connections will often comment on your posts if you have a wide reach. Visit their profiles and see if they are an appropriate connection for you. If so, send them a personalised message thanking them and asking to connect. This is an excellent way to grow your network.
- Build your visibility and credibility by commenting widely.
When you comment intelligently and persistently on posts of those outside your network, they notice and are likely to invite you to connect. This is a great strategy for coming to the attention of thought leaders and industry heavyweights.
- React to a post instead of just liking it.
LinkedIn offers six variations on liking a post. They are the blue thumbs up, hands clapping (applause or congratulations), heart (or love), a lightbulb (insightful) and a questioning face (curious), a purple hand (support). Any of these is counted as a like, and they display alongside the person’s face under Reactions immediately below the post.
- Don’t like what you see in your newsfeed? Change it.
The more you interact with posts, the more LinkedIn will send you similar ones. So, if a post annoys or upsets you, don’t comment on it. Instead, go to the […] menu at the top right of the post and choose from the options listed to discourage the algorithm from sending you more posts like it.
- Connect with generous commenters.
When you spot someone who’s regularly commenting on posts you’re interested in (or your own), invite them to connect if it’s appropriate. You can then reciprocate on each other’s posts which benefits you both.
- You can only send 100 invites a week, so make them count.
Have a solid reason for asking another LinkedIn member to connect with you. Perhaps you know or have met them, they’re in your network, they’re a potential client or supplier, or you could learn from them because they’re industry leaders. Just showing up in the People You May Know section is no longer a sufficient reason to connect.
- View someone’s profile before inviting them to connect.
This increases the likelihood of their accepting and also ensures you know something about them with which to personalise your invite. You can also be sure you want to connect and that the account doesn’t appear fake.
- Choose parameters for invitees.
If someone has no profile photo and an incomplete profile, they’re probably not spending much time on the platform so won’t see your posts or messages. Likewise if they have only a few connections and there is little or nothing showing in the Activity area on their profile. However, if you know them personally or want to connect with them for other reasons, there is no harm in this, although be aware they may not respond because they are not on the platform much or have a huge backload of unaccepted invites.
- Never send a connection invite without a personalised message.
Take the time to send a personalised message of invitation if you want someone to accept. The chances of success are much greater if you have explained why you want to connect, mentioned a connection in common or shown that you’ve visited their profile.
- Always follow up with a thank you.
If someone has agreed to connect with you it is only polite that you acknowledge this with a thank you. It can also open the door to a discussion or opportunity if you make it sufficiently personal. Voice or video messages make great thank you messages as does offering someone a link to your free resources (not sales material).
- Strike up a conversation with your most valuable connections.
While not everyone you connect with will want to hear from you personally, some will, and they’ll respond to messages. Forge relationships with these people by sending them voice, video or written messages that are useful and helpful. This builds trust and memorability.
- Never spam a new connection.
A LinkedIn connection is about building a relationship, not about touting for business. Connecting to someone simply to sell to them is a mistake and your connection will most likely react badly unless you just happen to be offering the very thing they are looking for at that very moment. The chances of that are slim.
- Check out the profiles of people who invite you to connect.
While LinkedIn is a much safer social media environment than other platforms, not everything or everyone is necessarily as they seem. Never feel obliged to connect to someone if you feel uncomfortable about doing so. The use of fake LinkedIn accounts is on the rise and it is in your best interests to have only real people in your network.
- People who follow you make good potential connections.
Check your followers to see who you would like to add to your network. Invite them to connect, follow them back, comment on their posts or take other action that brings them closer to you.
- On connecting, send an invite to follow your company page.
Strike while the iron is hot with new connections and, if it is appropriate, invite them to follow your company page. Unfortunately, these can’t be personalised which is why you should send it at this early stage. Reciprocate by following theirs.
- Use the direct message option to reach out.
While direct messages on LinkedIn are increasing in popularity and use, they have still not reached critical mass. If you want to personally reach out but don’t have a personal email address for them, send a DM instead.
- Don’t send sales messages to new connections.
This will not endear you to them and is a disconnect from the friendliness and professionalism of your invite and follow-up message. Instead, send them your free resources (Linktree is a good link aggregate and is free), a useful document such as a checklist or tipsheet.
- Personalise your message.
Always address the person by name so there is no hint of bulk messaging or, worse, automation. Everyone wants to feel special.
- Instead of sending a document, send a link.
Documents don’t display well on small devices so an alternative to a pdf file is a link. Or, send both but you may find the link is more regularly opened than the attachment.
While many of LinkedIn’s features and functions remain constant, they are regularly being upgraded. This means it is important to know what new features to take advantage of and what to bypass.
The late year profile-wide update is a case in point. While there is little new or better in terms of functionality, it is important to know how your profile appears to others and to make best use of what is now available to stand out from the crowd.
We regularly post information about changes to LinkedIn and if you are not a connection of Lynnaire Johnston, please do reach out to her. And if you would like to follow our Link∙Ability company page or our Word Wizard page, we post several times a week on each about better ways to use LinkedIn.
If you are looking for more information on company pages, we recommend the book Business Gold – Building Awareness, Authority and Advantage with LinkedIn Company Pages, the new best-seller by Lynnaire Johnston and Michelle J Raymond. It is available on Amazon and other major online retailers.