If you’re not sure how to use LinkedIn, perhaps think of it as a research conference.
1. Be active
You’ll learn nothing and get zero connections if you sit in the corner of an academic conference. The same is true on LinkedIn. Any social media really.
If you are not active, you’ll get next to nothing out of it. So, if you create an account on LinkedIn, make sure you use it. Or at least make sure you give it a shot, before saying “It does not work”. And to me, giving LinkedIn a shot means:
- Log in daily.
- Like, share or create something new daily.
- Send connection requests.
- Accept connection requests.
If it were a conference… Logging in daily would be you being present on the conference floor. Walking around the booths, and posters. Liking, and sharing content is you attending talks and clapping at the end, or reading the actual posters congratulating the author. Leaving a comment or sharing with a comment is like asking a question of a speaker or presenter. Sending, and accepting connection requests is like going up to the speaker after their talk or seeing them at lunch and discussing their work. Or like someone coming to you after your talk to discuss your work.
2. Get the notifications
You’ll never get the key dates or submission deadlines if you switch of conference notifications.
So, if you are happy to give LinkedIn a shot, then you should turn on the email notifications. Yes, they are annoying. Yes, the clog your inbox. BUT… It’ll be a reminder to be active. At least until you’ve decided it is or isn’t something worth doing longer term. And it’ll make it easier to know what to comment, like, and share about.
3. Build your profile
That’s like the section at the end of conference handbook. Where it has all of the speaker bios, etc. Except, EVERYONE who wants a bio can. AND you get to put EXACTLY what you want in the bio. You wouldn’t want to be THAT speaker who had no bio, and no conference abstract? Who would know how to get in touch or what your awesome talk was on.
So, build your profile. Your academic LinkedIn profile should have at least three things:
- Title – Don’t let the default setting of your most recent job title be your LinkedIn title. Change it to something more relevant. It could be your topic of interest. It could be what you’re expert in. It could be that you teach or train as well as research. Think about people might search for someone like you. What terms would describe the role? If they fit as a tile, use it. And don’t forget to include your academic title in your name.
- Pictures – A head shot of you doing your academic thing. So, lab researchers, you can be in your lab coat, holding a pipette, fiddling with blue, red, and green liquid (okay that last bit is not needed, but you get the drift). If you can, a banner image of you speaking or presenting. Or maybe even your latest article or book. Something that promotes you as a speaker or author.
- Summary – complete that section. The LinkedIn algorithm uses some of the words there to help others find you in search. And that is also a place that Google uses to find you in search. Speak in the third person (it adds authority). Use your academic title (it gives authority). Cover:
- Data/statistic about your field.
- How to contact you (I know there’s a contact section, complete that as well as adding contact details in your summary).
- What you have done – But focus on what you’d like to do more of. Leave out what you are not interested in doing.
- Who you work with – Role titles are useful. They help people say “Ah, I’m one of those, this profile must be for me”.
- Who you help – Especially if you work with one group of people (e.g., managers) but help another (e.g., their direct reports).
- Your past clients or collaborators – Helps build social proof.
- Quotes – What others have said about you or your work (obviously get their permission first). Also builds social proof.
4. Ask and share
Just like you let people know about your conference presentation, you should also let them know about your LinkedIn account. So, ask people to connect with you on LinkedIn. Put it in your email signature. Start and end talks with your LinkedIn (and other social media channels) and invite people to connect with you. Talk about your LinkedIn on your other social media channels.
5. Create templates
Although most presentations have original content, they also have some content that is copied from previous. Maybe it’s the method. Maybe it’s the thank you. Maybe it’s the background. And just like you copy and paste that from last time, you can create templates for your LinkedIn interactions.
Each connection request should be accompanied by an introduction. Each acceptance should also come with some further information about you. In most cases, it is okay to have a templated response. Have a template that you can access on your computer, and on your mobile. That way, you can easily start the first part of the engagement process whenever you get the chance. Templates should cover one or more of:
- Why you’re connecting.
- What you’re interested in.
- How they can meet with you.
Dr Richard Huysmans is the author of Connect the Docs: A Guide to getting industry partners for academics. He, in collaboration with Jane Anderson, has built the only LinkedIn program for research translation. He has taken that approach and delivers high quality practical advice to the education, research and government sectors in the use of social media for academic and career progress. He is driven by the challenge of helping researchers make use of practical tools for greater impact. He knows social media and how make it work for research.
To find out more, call 0412 606 178, email (Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org) or subscribe to the newsletter. He's on LinkedIn (Dr Richard Huysmans), Twitter (@richardhuysmans), Instagram (@drrichardhuysmans), and Facebook (Beyond Your PhD with Dr Richard Huysmans).