There are over 722 million members and 310 monthly active users on LinkedIn.
This makes LinkedIn the No. 1 social media platform created specifically for professional connections and opportunities.
Even though you have an account, unless you actively, and strategically engage on LinkedIn, you miss the opportunity to participate fully to accelerate your career growth and impact.
Only on LinkedIn do you get to see the incredible contributions of leaders across the diverse Africa and diaspora.
There are serious movers and shakers pulling together to push Africa’s development agenda in their respective sectors.
The privilege of being connected to leaders from all corners of the continent and across the diaspora on LinkedIn is that you receive minute-by-minute insights on innovations, best practices, and opportunities to learn from, celebrate, and contribute to common objectives.
Unfortunately, despite access, many leaders are sabotaged by Africa’s long-standing challenge - connectivity.
African leader, unless you are connected, and actively engaging on LinkedIn, you miss opportunities to accelerate your growth and impact.
Here is a step-by-step guide to leverage LinkedIn for greater influence and impact as an African leader:
1. Connect Strategically
Send Connection Requests to people that would add value to your network, and you to theirs.
LinkedIn allows you to search by name, title, company, job, and several other filters. Take advantage of this function.
As you click to request a connection, take the time to write a brief message stating why you think they are great, what you have in common and what value you would add to them, and or why you want to connect with them helps to increase the likelihood of them choosing to connect with you.
You can also connect with people outside of your immediate network.
Here are 3 ways you can connect outside of your circle:
1. Browse through your connections’ connections (2nd level connections) and send a connection invitation to their connections that share vision, values, strategic direction, interests.
2. Where a person of interest is tagged on a post, click their name, browse their profile to ensure compatibility with what you seek, and invite.
3. If you have heard of, seen, read, or met someone elsewhere, seek them out on LinkedIn and send them a request.
2. Fill in Your Profile
Invest time to fill in each section of your LinkedIn Account Profile:
Profile Picture – use a clear, high-quality professional headshot.
Don’t leave the profile picture section blank. People want to see whom they are connecting with.
Profile Banner – You can create a LinkedIn Banner on www.canva.com that represents your professional profile.
Banner ideas can include your business or employer’s logo, a quote, or an image that represents what you want to be professionally associated with.
Header Summary – Write a short sentence that summarizes in 20 words or less
1. What you do
2. Whom you serve
3. What solution you solve
About – Expand what you wrote in summary on your header into a more detailed narrative in the About section.
Use this section as your Professional Bio and brag bank, giving your connections a feel of who you are, why you exist, what you have accomplished, and what value you would bring if they were to engage with you.
Experience – Capture the positions, duration, and organizations you have worked under.
Include Internship, and Self-employed opportunities.
Consider searching for the organizations you have worked for on LinkedIn so that, if well profiled, you can link your experience with them, for prospective connections to learn more about them.
This is especially helpful where some of the organizations we may have worked for are not readily recognizable global brands.
Education – Write the name of the institution, the program you took, and start and end dates.
As you did with the organizations you have worked for, search for each academic institution on LinkedIn, if found, click to link as you fill out this section.
Licenses & Certifications – List all licenses and certifications relevant to the opportunities you seek to position for.
Capture start and end dates and link institutions where possible.
Volunteer Experience – this section shows the causes you support and the fact that you are willing to do so even if not engaged as employment.
Skills & Endorsements – List your skills, especially as relate to the opportunities you seek.
Feel free to also ask the LinkedIn connections familiar with your work to endorse you.
Generously endorse others whose skills you would also vouch for.
Recommendations – Request professional recommendations from people you have worked with.
Reach out to both internal (supervisors and managers) and external (clients and beneficiaries) recommendations first then, others (e.g. colleagues) that are familiar with and would give an honest and elevating recommendation.
Accomplishments – state all accomplishments relevant to the personal brand you seek to build, people you want to connect with, and opportunities you wish to access.
Fill in each relevant section (Honors & Awards, Languages, Publications, Courses, Organizations).
Interests – search for and click on companies, causes, trending hashtags of interest to you
3. Use Hashtags & Keywords
Use hashtags and use those hashtags as keywords in your posts, articles, etcetera.
The LinkedIn algorithm will match your unique profile with the hashtags and keywords you use with people, groups, companies, interests that share them.
4. Actively Engage
LinkedIn will only work if you actively work it.
These are 3 ways you can actively engage on LinkedIn
Comment Meaningfully - On posts that interest, address by tagging the person that posted them.
The person will take note of your contribution and is likely to keep you in mind for future posts and opportunities.
Tag Others – Where relevant, tag others in posts of interest to them.
This shows that you have them in mind, and are intentional about wanting them to win.
Post Insights & Developments – Post relevant insights and developments, whether yours, your organizations’, the industry, or a general area of interest, post developments.
Do this in detail (not necessarily at length), sharing title, relevant links, adverts, and images.
5. Search for Opportunities
You can search for People, Posts, Companies, Jobs, Courses, Events, Schools, Services, Locations, Connections, Industry, Profile Language.
The entire world is open to you on LinkedIn. Invest time and effort to connect, collaborate, and grow beyond your borders.
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