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A big misconception about LinkedIn is that it’s only for job seekers. If you’re happy in your current post, there’s no need to give it much attention.

“Although this may have been true in the past, it is certainly not the case today,” says Carol Kaemmerer, a personal branding consultant and author of LinkedIn for the Savvy Executive. “LinkedIn is where many people will form their first impression of you. It’s where they look for evidence that they may be able to know, like and trust you – all prerequisites for doing business with you.”

You need to devote time to telling your business story on the social media site in a way that helps you stand out and be memorable. That means getting past a second misconception: Less is more. We hear that phrase about selling and the importance of knowing when to shut our mouth as well as in writing, where verbosity can get in the way.

“But on LinkedIn, less is not more,” she writes on C-Suite Network. “This is because LinkedIn is a search engine in search of keywords. One of the primary determinants of whether you appear on page one of the results of someone’s search is the number of times the keyword being searched for appears in your profile.”

It’s common to keep our LinkedIn profile small – modesty is a virtue, right? In fact, we keep all the sections where information is invited brief. But she argues you need to write to the margins – use every available word. The About section has been allowing 2,600 characters. Each job in the Experience section can contain 2,000 characters of description. That may seem like too much. But if you want to rank high in searches for the services you or your company provide, write to the margins. “The search algorithm benefits people who are connected in some way on LinkedIn with the person searching (this correlates with having a large LinkedIn network) and people who have used the keyword being searched for many, many times,” she notes in another blog post.

But beware: Another misconception she warns against is that your strategy should be to get thousands of connections. The search algorithm works better when you have more than 500 connections. But once you have reached that threshold, she urges you to focus on nurturing those relationships rather than focusing on finding more. Grow those connections into friends, creating a true network of people whose expertise you trust and in turn trust you.

Don’t play small on LinkedIn. She stresses that the portrait of you should be up-to-date, not taken 10 years ago – the best version of you now. Headlines and sections should be filled out by you – to the margins, of course – rather than left to the LinkedIn default version. “Your About section should be about you – not about what you go, but who you are. Share something that helps people know you,” she writes. Use logos, particularly if you play a prominent role in the organization.

She suggests checking your messages icon daily, because some people are using LinkedIn rather than e-mail to connect. Check your notifications icon, which highlights posts by people whom LinkedIn has selected for you to hear from. “If someone who is important to you has posted something, take time to read their post and respond with a Like and a comment. (A Like by itself shows little engagement and gets you little notice.) Make sure your response adds value to the person who posted, to others reading your comment, and to yourself,” she writes.

The network icon should be checked weekly. It includes connection requests, opportunities to follow company pages and newsletters and events. Your time is precious, so don’t follow up every opportunity. And she also recommends creating your own posts regularly, on a schedule you can maintain.

LinkedIn is the prime social media site for work. Use it wisely.

Quick hits

  • Whenever someone says you can’t do something, what they really mean is that they can’t do it, argues self-help author Mark Manson. People put limitations on themselves to protect themselves from the disappointment of failure. They believe they’re helping you by sharing those same limitations (and will feel threatened when you challenge those limitations or prove them wrong).
  • When you find yourself disagreeing with someone, Harvard professors Francesca Gino and Julia Minson suggest focusing on what you have to learn from the other person rather than proving your point.
  • Communications consultant Carmine Gallo in his newsletter points to research that PowerPoint is a poor decision-making tool because it lacks sentences with subjects and verbs and so is harder to grasp. Start with the written word – reports, as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos required of his team – and then supplement that if required with PowerPoint.
  • Sometimes all you need for exceptional results says Atomic Habits author James Clear is average effort repeated for an above-average amount of time.

Harvey Schachter is a Kingston-based writer specializing in management issues. He, along with Sheelagh Whittaker, former CEO of both EDS Canada and Cancom, are the authors of When Harvey Didn’t Meet Sheelagh: Emails on Leadership.

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