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A beginner’s guide to LinkedIn

by Amanda Collins

“Are you on LinkedIn?”  

Have you heard this question before? 

LinkedIn now has around 774 million users across 200 countries. If you’re not utilising the world’s largest professional networking platform, then you’re missing out.  

This article can be used as a beginner’s guide to LinkedIn and will tell you how to make the most of it’s huge user base for business networking. It’s a great career tool, and it can help you connect with other professional, colleagues and even potential employers.  

Beginner's guide to LinkedIn

How can a LinkedIn profile help set you up for success?

What is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social networking website, like Facebook. Where it differs from Facebook, is its focus is on work, not play. So, instead of being a social network in the traditional sense, it is a professional network, designed to help people. Here are some top tips for your LinkedIn profile:

  • Connect with other people working in the same, or similar fields.
  • Discover professional opportunities and potential jobs/promotions.
  • Get industry updates and access the latest industry news, insight and inspiration.
  • Get noticed and promote their business, expertise or freelance work.
  • Stay in-touch with colleagues.

You won’tfind cute cat videos or outrageous snaps from last Saturday’s party on LinkedIn. People don’t generally share personal, nonjobrelated things on the site; the reason being is that your potential employer could be viewing your profile, and you don’t want them to see you as unprofessional.  

Keep LinkedIn’s tagline in mind: “The social networking site for professionals”. 

Why you should join LinkedIn

The simple answer is jobs, industry news and networking: a powerful professional trio!

Currently, LinkedIn has around 774 million users across the world. It is also a tool that recruiters like to use to search for new talent. You never know – if your profile stands out, you could be head-hunted for a new role.  

Setting yourself up on LinkedIn can really help you get ahead in your career. It’s simple to do, and easy to maintain. You can check in as often as you like – once a day, once a week, or even once a month.  

Learn to use LinkedIn

LinkedIn has more than 774 million users.

How to create your LinkedIn profile in 10 easy steps

1. Setting yourself up

  1. Head to the LinkedIn website at
  2. At the top of the first page you will see a ‘Join LinkedIn Today’ section. Here you will need to enter your first and last name, and your email address. Once you have done this click the ‘Continue’ button underneath your details.
  3. The next couple of pages will ask you to enter some basic information, like what country you live in, your current employment status, the industry you work in and a password for your account. Fill this in and make sure that you double check everything is correct before you click to continue.
  4. LinkedIn will then direct you to a page where you will confirm your email and allow the site to import your address book. By importing your email address book LinkedIn helps you to start making professional connections with people you already know.
  5. Next, head to your inbox, find the email from LinkedIn and confirm your address by clicking on the link in the email.
  6. You will be redirected to LinkedIn. Here you will find LinkedIn has matched the contacts in your email address book, with its members.
  7. Click on all the people that you want to add to your LinkedIn network. They will all receive a Contact Request from you. If they choose to connect with you, they will be added to your network.

2. Choosing a photo

This is an important step. Don’t leave your photo space blank. Statistics show that people who don’t add a LinkedIn profile photo, are much less likely to get noticed by Recruiters.

When choosing a photo, remember you want to look professional. Don’t post a picture of yourself in swimwear holding a cocktail on your latest holiday. Don’t pick an image that features other people, either. Choose a photo that will represent who you are as a professional.

Once you’ve uploaded your photo, you can move on to filling out your profile.

When choosing a profile picture, remember that you want to look your best for future employers and Recruiters.

3. Your professional profile

There are several sections that will make up your profile. As you fill them in, keep in mind what you want to get out of LinkedIn and tailor your answers with that goal in mind.

To add information to these sections, hover your mouse over them until a small pencil icon appears, then click on the icon.

4. Headline

Located at the top of your profile page, beside your profile picture, your headline gives you 120 characters with which to grab people’s attention.

If you don’t fill this in, LinkedIn will automatically take your job title and current employer details and pop them in the headline.

But your best bet is to fill this section in. It helps to grab attention, and make you stand out from the crowd.

Start with who you are: your professional title (Personal Trainer, Nursing Assistant, Food and Beverage Manager).

Move on to who you are targeting: (helps clients to increase their fitness and strength; who works to improve clients’ lives; helps with the efficient running of services).

Finish by providing proof of your expertise: (Nationally certified by TAFE NSW North Region, Accredited by Integrated Care & Management Training; Clients include Surry Hills Café).

For example:

  • Personal Trainer who helps clients to increase their fitness and strength. Nationally certified by TAFE NSW North Region.
  • Nursing Assistant who works to improve clients’ lives. Accredited by Integrated Care & Management Training.
  • Food and Beverage Manager who helps with the efficient running of services. Clients include Surry Hills Café.

Setting up a professional profile is well worth the effort if it helps you get noticed by potential employers.

5. Summary

Your LinkedIn summary falls below your profile picture and headline, and is vital in demonstrating your value to businesses. Here, you have 2,000 characters with which to sell your skills and expertise.

Your best bet is to divide your summary into five paragraphs. The below section details how to set out your LinkedIn summary with examples.

Paragraph 1:

Start with who you are and the work that you do.

For example:

“I’m a Personal Trainer with two years’ professional experience training a range of clients from athletes to stay-at-home parents.

“I have worked within the Harvey’s Gym chain, as well as freelance training clients in their homes, local parks and beaches.”

Paragraph 2:

Now you want to move into what your current work is.

For example:

“Currently I start my days at 6am, putting a group of executives through their paces, with a brisk 5km run and stretching session.

“After providing them with individual feedback on their progress, and answering any questions or concerns, I move on to Harvey’s Gym where I motivate groups of 30+ people to push their limits in high energy classes including Body Pump, Body Combat and Athletic.

“From here, I head out to the beaches where I take two afternoon and sunset yoga classes on the sand, encouraging clients to stretch out, build lean and flexible bodies, and find centre and calm.

Paragraph 3:

Next, you want to provide concrete examples of some of your work successes.

For example:

“Recently I coached a client with no exercise experience to run a half marathon over 12 weeks. They completed the race in just under 2 hours!

“I also helped a client who was looking down the barrel of shoulder surgery, to strengthen their muscles and gain back mobility, thus avoiding the need to go under the knife.

“Over my two-year career I have also helped my PT clients shed a total of 3,000 kilos, and that’s not including those in my Harvey’s Gym classes!”

Paragraph 4:

The next step is to them know a bit about you, and how you work.

For example:

“I am a creative, motivated and caring Trainer. I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all fitness approach. People are different, and every person should have a fitness plan that works with their style, physical capabilities and goals.

“I work to understand clients both physically and mentally, so that I can tailor make fitness plans to fit them and ensure they reach their goals.”

Paragraph 5:

Lastly, you want to add your relevant qualifications and contact details.

For example:

“I have a nationally-recognised Certificate IV in Fitness from Open Colleges.

“Currently, I combine freelance PT services with Harvey’s Gym work, and I can be reached at (include your email or phone number here).”

There are plenty of different ways you can make yourself stand out on LinkedIn. 

6. Experience

This is where you add your work experience. It’s best not to copy and paste from your resume, as you want to demonstrate your value in a unique way.

To do this, list a challenge you faced and how you solved it, as well as what you achieved.

For example:

Title – Group Class Trainer, Harvey’s Gym.

“I joined Harvey’s Gym when the company was struggling to fill its daytime group classes. Tackling this problem head on, I began to chat to gym members around the club, building relationships, helping them with a few of their training issues and telling them of the benefits of the daytime classes.

“Within two weeks class numbers shot up, and now seven months later, most day classes I lead have a wait-list.”

For more tips on how to create an eye-catching resume, see our blog: ‘How to write a resume.’

7. Education

Here you can enter your education experience. Include:

  • any tertiary or Certificate courses that you have completed towards your career. If it is not relevant to your job, then it’s best to leave it out
  • the institutions where you studied.

8. Recommendations

This section is where recommendations from your LinkedIn connections are displayed. It’s best to get one or two recommendations on here.

Below, you’ll see LinkedIn’s guide to requesting a recommendation:

  1. Head to your profile and click the down arrow to the right of the button near your profile picture.
  2. Click Ask to be recommended from the drop-down menu.
  3. Follow the prompts to request the recommendation.
  4. Click Send.

9. Skills

This section allows you to choose your areas of expertise from a list. Only select skills which you actually have, as this will make you look more credible. Try not to throw your net too wide, keep in mind what jobs you want to get, and focus on skills which match that job.

10. Endorsements

Connections in your LinkedIn network can endorse your skills. What this means is that they can go through your skills list and publicly endorse you for particular skills. 

Never be afraid to ask co-workers or Managers for a recommendation. You can also return the favour and give them a recommendation.

Great! Now your LinkedIn profile is ready!

So there you have it! Your complete beginner’s guide to setting yourself up on LinkedIn. Whether you check-in once a month, once a week or once a day, it is a great way to learn about job opportunities, network and stay in touch with the latest industry updates!

Interested in kick-starting your career?

Studying online can help you get the skills, knowledge and qualification that you need to get ahead. Check out Open Colleges’ partnership LinkedIn Marketing short course, which is perfect for people wanting to get the most out of LinkedIn. Whether you’re a marketer, a small business owner, or a job seeker looking to create a stand-out profile, this is the course for you.

OC also offer the 10904NAT Diploma of Social Media Marketing if you’re looking to obtain a nationally recognised qualification. This diploma has been specially developed to provide you with in-demand skills and knowledge when it comes to social media marketing.

What are you waiting for? Expand your horizons now and enrol with OC.

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