New to LinkedIn? What to Do First

Try an experiment. Ask some friends why they participate in a particular social network. You’ll probably hear responses like this:

Facebook“To find old friends and maintain relationships,” or “Because my customers expect me to be there,” or “To be entertained. Sometimes I even learn things.”

Twitter“I get breaking news there,” or “I can link to my company’s blog and website from there,” or “I like to see personal tweets from famous people.”

LinkedIn“For business networking,” or “To look for work,” or “To make sure that my company is represented well.”

You’ll probably glean from your unscientific survey that the big three (you’ll probably add Instagram there if you’re a millennial) still dominate, and LinkedIn remains the “serious” business network.

LinkedIn: still good for business.

Know Why

LinkedIn launched with a formula that clicked with the business community. Like any website, it’s been tweaked over the years and new features added. Some of the changes have been useful. But everyone from one-person microbusinesses to major corporations have at least felt that they needed to be there, even if they didn’t know why.

You should know why, even before you even start looking through photos of yourself to use as your profile picture. It’ll make your site development work easier because you won’t feel like you have to do absolutely everything that LinkedIn prompts you to do. Do you want to promote your brand? Look for work? Find good job candidates? Simply establish a business network?

Personal First

Don’t be in a rush to get your business page up. Start with a Basic (free) account and build a professional profile for you personally. Search for everyone you’ve known in work situations, and do all of the things that all of the articles and blog posts tell you to do when you’re creating a profile and starting to engage with the LinkedIn community, like:

  • Select an appropriate profile picture. Keep it professional, but you can color outside the lines a bit to illustrate your profession.
  • Write a strong Summary, and make sure that the content that appears above the fold is strong.
  • Keep your presence fresh. Post updates, and respond to other updates.
  • Write as succinctly as possible. Our attention spans are shrinking, and if you want your audience to get to the bottom of the profile, you’d better make it snappy.

Down to Business

Start exploring your business options. Look at LinkedIn Premium levels, which you may want to consider if you’ve formulated goals for the site beyond simply building another network of friends and past/current co-workers.

LinkedIn offers four Premium plans. Each is designed for a specific reason for being there; you can sign up for a free trial of any of them. And you should, to see if it adds enough to what you already have to warrant the cost. The higher levels are pricey, though you’ll save if you sign up for a year.

The levels are Job Seeker ($29.99/month), Business Plus ($59.99/month), Sales Navigator Professional ($79.99/month), and Recruiter Lite ($119.95/month).

As you evaluate them, remember that you can do a lot with LinkedIn as a free user if you’re a power networker with a stellar profile and you’re willing to put in the time required for effective searches and frequent interaction with other members.

You’ll have to decide, too, if you want to create a Company Page. Like the Basic account, it’s free, but you must have a personal account and meet some other requirements. Don’t take this on unless you’re willing to put a serious amount of effort into it. Think of it as a company website without the need to hire a designer. Look at this page of FAQs to learn more.

There are certainly other opportunities for promoting your business on LinkedIn, like Showcase Pages and targeted advertising, if this is one of your reasons for joining.

LinkedIn is a terrific networking tool. Take your time exploring it, formulating your goals, and creating a presence there. The “serious” social network can serve you well.


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