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How to Use LinkedIn Effectively (Beginner Quickstart Guide)

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Read Time: 17 min

Whether you want to advance your professional career or generate leads of professionals, LinkedIn is the place to be. As a professional, you need to know how to use LinkedIn effectively. Learn how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile, what to post, and how to engage other LinkedIn members.

What is LinkedIn?What is LinkedIn?What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn members use the social platform to get jobs, attract leads and clients, or recruit talent. (Image Source: Envato Elements)

What is LinkedIn? It's the largest social network for professionals, with more than 850 million members. Members gather on the site to create a professional online presence for themselves, as well as for their businesses and organizations. Use it well, and LinkedIn can help you find a job, get clients, establish your thought leadership, and generate leads for B2B products/services.

In my case, after I began using LinkedIn purposefully, I saw the following results within the two months:

  • I attracted three new potential freelancing clients (one of which turned into a paying project).
  • I was invited to job interviews (including one for an unpublished vacancy).
  • I received three job offers (after completing the recruitment process).

I got all this despite the fact that most of my posts were getting only around 100 views. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to use LinkedIn effectively, whatever your goals are.

It All Begins With Your LinkedIn Profile: 5 Power Tips 

Success on LinkedIn begins with a compelling and effective profile. Your LinkedIn profile is like your online resume. At the same time, it goes way beyond just showing your work experience, educational background, and training. It adds social proof and so much more.

LinkedIn is always adding new features to help you leverage the platform for your professional goals. Get our top advice on how to make a great LinkedIn profile:

Also, keep these tips in mind:

1. Have a Clear Goal for Your LinkedIn Presence

Your goal guides everything you do on LinkedIn, from what you include on your profile to the posts you publish. And so before you do anything, get clear on exactly what you want to achieve on LinkedIn. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is it to find a job?
  • Attract potential clients?
  • Get more speaking gigs?

Whatever your goal is, choose one—just one—and use it as your North Star moving forward. 

2. Fill in All the Fields

how to use LinkedIn effectivelyhow to use LinkedIn effectivelyhow to use LinkedIn effectively
Complete all the sections and fields in your LinkedIn profile to get the best results. (Image Source: Envato Elements)

LinkedIn gives you a wealth of features you can and should use to showcase your expertise. Your LinkedIn profile can be so robust that it can serve as your online resume and portfolio. Leverage all the functionalities available to you by completing all the fields and sections in your profile. 

Consider all the different parts of your LinkedIn profile:

  • profile picture
  • cover image
  • headline
  • intro
  • contact info
  • featured (Creator mode only)
  • activity
  • about
  • experience
  • education
  • licenses & certifications
  • skills & endorsements
  • recommendations
  • accomplishments
  • interests
  • causes

3. Turn on Creator Mode

Switch on Creator mode to get access to even more tools and features that'll help you reach your goal. These include:

  • Topics. You’ll be able to display the main topics you usually post about as hashtags in your profile introduction. This makes you more discoverable to other LinkedIn members. It also attracts members who are interested in those topics. These topics can overlap with your content themes (more on that below).
  • Featured section. This section, where you showcase your original content, is highlighted and displayed higher up on your profile. You can use this to display your resume, video resume, and samples of your work, including a LinkedIn article, posts published on other sites, videos, documents, presentations, and images.
  • LinkedIn Live Video and LinkedIn Newsletter. With Creator mode on, you’ll be able to stream live videos from your account. You can also publish and promote a newsletter to show your expertise and build a bigger following. 

4. Know Your Keywords

People discover you on LinkedIn by using the platform’s search engine. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What words and phrases are they most likely to use when they look for someone like you?

Choose a primary keyword you want to rank for. Use this primary keyword on your headline and About section. Use secondary keywords in your About section. Also sprinkle keywords through the Experience section, either as job titles or descriptions. 

Learn more about finding the right keywords for your LinkedIn profile and resume:

5. Create a Page for Your Freelancing or Consulting Business

If you're self-employed as a freelancer or consultant, make a page for your business on LinkedIn. Then, when you list your freelancing or consulting under the Experience section, link to that page. This way, if someone clicks on your business name from the Experience section, they'll see your company page. This gives you the ability to provide more information about your services. A LinkedIn company page also has features that aren't available on your profile. For example, you can create events, list products, and see analytics.

Remember that your LinkedIn profile will always be a work in progress. You’ll think of ways to optimize and improve it as you get more responses and engagement on the platform.

Strategic Posting on LinkedIn

Now that your profile is complete, your next concern is what to post on your account. As I’m writing this, you've got several options: 

  • Photo. If you want to stand out on any social media platform, every post you publish must have a visual. A photo or other type of image is the most common type of visual you can share. Always include one with a text post. The recommended size is at least 552 (width) x 276 (height) pixels, with a maximum file size of 5 MB.
  • Video. Online, video has become the most popular type of content, typically garnering the highest number of engagement. Video also helps your audience connect with you faster, because they can see more of your personality. LinkedIn limits the duration of the video you can upload: 15 minutes when uploading from desktop and 10 minutes from the mobile app.
  • Job. If you’re on LinkedIn to attract talent, then a job posting is a terrific way to reach the most suitable candidates on this professional platform.
  • Poll. A poll or multiple choice survey is another type of content you can post on LinkedIn. Aside from getting feedback from your connections, a poll is also an excellent way of reaching a wider audience. That’s because every time someone in your network responds to your poll, their own connections get notified.
  • Document. This is a little-used feature, but you can share documents on your LinkedIn posts. As of this writing, the supported file types are DOC, DOCX, PDF, PPT, and PPTX. You can upload a document from your computer, Dropbox, or OneDrive. It’s a good way to share a checklist, special report, presentation, or even your resume to LinkedIn members. 
  • Articles. LinkedIn allows you to use the platform as your very own blog through articles. Articles are longer than posts and won’t get lost in the platform’s busy home feed. They’re searchable both within LinkedIn and by search engines (if you’ve set the visibility to public). Every time you publish an article, your connections and followers see it on their news feeds. It may also appear on their notifications.

What to Post About on LinkedIn

What about the actual content of your posts? One helpful tip I’ve come across is to keep one question in mind:

What do you want to be known for?

For example, if your goal on LinkedIn is to get a job as an editor, then you'll want to be known for being an experienced and skilled editor. This means your posts should be about topics related to editing. These could include writing, common writing mistakes, editing as a job, how to become an editor, life as an editor, and so on.

If you’re a freelance graphic designer and your goal is to attract potential clients, then you’ll want to be known as a great visual communicator. Your LinkedIn posts should then be about graphic design trends, examples of effective visuals, relevant tools, and resources … you get the idea.

In short, identify a handful of content themes that are consistent with what you want to be known for.

After you’ve published several posts on LinkedIn, scroll through your posts. Can people tell who you are and what you do just based on your posts?

Let’s take a peek at my posts. Can you tell what my content themes are? (Hint: Look at the red ovals.)

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You can post on LinkedIn about any topic as long as you relate them back to one of your content themes.

As you can see, I relate even a lifestyle-type post about drinking coffee back to being a marketer—one of my content themes.

Having content themes can help you figure out tough questions like,

“Should I post personal stuff on LinkedIn?”

I’ve seen many debates about this. Some people have even gotten hateful comments after posting personal topics.

I say you can post personal stuff—as long as you make sure it supports your goal and is aligned with what you want to be known for. Relate it to one of your content themes. Again, my post about drinking coffee is an example of how you can do this.

The Best Day and Time to Post on LinkedIn, and How Often 

Is there an ideal day and time to post on LinkedIn to get maximum views and engagement?

Some experts seem to think so. The consensus from most, like the Influence Marketing Hub, is that weekdays between 7-8:30 am and between 5-6:00 pm, possibly also around 12 noon are the best times to post. This makes sense if you consider that LinkedIn members are professionals. Those would be the times they're commuting to or from work or taking a lunch break.

With that said, one of my most successful posts was published on a Saturday.

Many factors go into a successful LinkedIn post. The day and time of posting is just one of them, so I say don’t stress out about it. Post when it makes sense for you to do so. 

When it comes to the optimum frequency of posting most experts, like the online media monitoring company Meltwater, agree that a cadence of three to five times a week seems to get the best results. 

And that’s great news because that publishing schedule is doable even for the busiest professional! (Unlike other social media platforms that require daily or even multiple posts a day.)

LinkedIn posts tend to have a longer shelf life than other social media posts. That is, I’ve noticed that a post can get views, comments, and shares for several days and then they begin to peter out.

You may be thinking:

“But Lexi, I keep posting on LinkedIn and nobody seems to be paying attention!”

Here’s the thing. Even though it seems like your posts are going into a black hole and nobody sees them, that’s not actually the case. Even though your posts have few views and little or no reactions and comments, some of your connections and followers are seeing them.

To prove it to you, here’s a direct message I received from a long-time connection.

how to use linkedinhow to use linkedinhow to use linkedin
People are paying attention to your LinkedIn posts even when your views and engagement may be low.

The post he’s referring to had fewer than 100 views and zero engagement. Jim himself didn't react or comment on that post. And yet, he did see it and it compelled him to revisit my profile.

Moral of the story: Don’t stress over so-called vanity metrics like views, reactions, and comments. They've got little to do with your actual results.

How to Network on LinkedIn

Now that you've got a great profile and are publishing strategic posts, your work is far from done. In this section, we go over other activities you need to do regularly to achieve your LinkedIn goal. 

Be Social: React and Comment

LinkedIn is a social platform, so engaging others is an essential part of LinkedIn marketing. The easiest way to do this is by reacting to other people’s posts. 

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Reacting to people's posts is one way to be social on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn lets you react in one of six ways:

  1. Like
  2. Celebrate
  3. Support
  4. Love
  5. Insightful
  6. Curious

Pick the one that’s closest to how you are feeling about the post. But don’t stop at reacting.

An even better—and more appreciated—way of engaging a LinkedIn member is by commenting on a post. Make it brief and relevant and, as much as possible, end with a question. That sparks a conversation with the member and the other people who see the post.

This isn't based on science, but I’ve noticed that the more I comment on other people’s post, the more views my own posts get. Maybe this is why some experts recommend that you comment on at least five posts per day. Try it for yourself and see what happens.

Reacting and commenting on posts are just two ways to be social. There are more ….

Adding Connections

What is LinkedIn - professional social networkWhat is LinkedIn - professional social networkWhat is LinkedIn - professional social network
Learn how to use LinkedIn to build your professional connections. (Image Source: Envato Elements)

Start by connecting with people you know in real life:

  • schoolmates
  • current and previous co-workers
  • family members
  • friends 

When you meet someone new, such as in a networking event, make sure to follow up by making a connection request on LinkedIn. Send a message to remind them how you met.

As you get more active on LinkedIn, you’ll receive connection requests from people you may not know. Should you accept? That’s entirely up to you. Keep reading to find out how you can expand your network without necessarily connecting with total strangers.

Giving and Getting Recommendations

Recommendations on your LinkedIn profile are like testimonials given by former employers, clients, and co-workers. You can start getting recommendations by asking for them. It’s like asking clients for a testimonial you can add to your website and other marketing materials.

Every time you get a testimonial outside LinkedIn, ask your client if they can paste the exact testimonial on your LinkedIn profile as a recommendation. Most people would be happy to do this.

Another way to get recommendations is by giving them first. Post unsolicited recommendations on other people’s profiles without expectations of getting one in return. Most folks will reciprocate by giving you a recommendation.

Joining Groups

Many LinkedIn members don’t connect willy-nilly with others unless they’re somehow connected. But what if you’re total strangers? How do you connect? By joining the same group!

With your goal in mind, think of which groups make sense for you to join. If your goal is to find a marketing job, for example, where would marketing hiring managers be hanging out? Use LinkedIn’s search tool to find appropriate groups. Join the ones that not only have a significant number of members but also has a fair level of activity. If people aren’t having conversations in the group, then it might be a stale one and not worth joining.

When you request to connect with someone you haven’t met, you can say that you’re both in the same group. This makes them more likely to accept your request.

Messaging People

Messaging on LinkedIn is quite powerful. That’s because most members receive both an in-app notification and an email notification when someone messages them on LinkedIn. This means your message is more likely to get read and receive a response. 

Use it wisely, though. Don’t start a conversation by hard-pitching your product or service. Seek first to listen and understand the other person’s needs. If there seems to be a good fit between what they’re looking for and what you offer, then you can segue to a sales pitch.

Sometimes, you’ll find that a convo that began in a post’s comments just naturally migrates over to messaging. That’s another reason why commenting on posts is important!

Tools for LinkedIn Marketing

How to use LinkedIn - toolsHow to use LinkedIn - toolsHow to use LinkedIn - tools
A few tools will help you create stand-out content for your LinkedIn account. (Image Source: Envato Elements)

You don’t need much to get results from LinkedIn. Depending on the types of content you want to share, you’ll need:

Graphics Creator and Editor

As mentioned earlier, visuals are essential to make your posts pop on a person’s feed. Use a simple graphics creator and editor to create images for your LinkedIn posts. Go to Elements to grab eye-catching photos, fonts, and icons. 

Social Media Scheduling Tool

LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to pre-schedule posts. If you’d rather create your posts ahead of time and then drip them out based on a specific schedule, then you’ll need a social media scheduling tool. Examples include:

Video Editing Tool

If you want to post a video, you can take a video from within the LinkedIn mobile app. But this isn't ideal. You’ll want to do some post-production work on your video to add your logo, titles, and other elements. That’s where a video editing tool comes in. Your computer may already have a video editor, and that may be the easiest one for you to use. Windows comes bundled with the Windows Movie Maker, and Macs come with iMovie.

Other options include:

...and many more.

You can want to spice up your LinkedIn videos with B-roll (supplemental video), music, and special sound effects. You can find an extensive library of video assets at Envato Elements.

Live Streaming Tool

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If you want to stream live video on LinkedIn, you'll need to use a third-party application. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Video live streaming is a terrific way to stand out and reach a wider audience on LinkedIn. But you can't live stream natively through the LinkedIn platform. You’ll need to use third-party software that connects with your LinkedIn account. 

Examples of apps you can use to stream live on LinkedIn include: 

What about tools for automatically messaging and requesting connections with people? Some people swear by these tools. I find them to be sketchy at best. At worst, using them can get your LinkedIn account suspended. For those reasons, my recommendation is to just say no!

Create Impressive LinkedIn Posts

Posting on your LinkedIn profile is a major part of your LinkedIn success. Make sure your posts get attention and make an impact. Go to Envato Elements for unlimited downloads of photos, fonts, videos, graphics—everything you need to create an impressive LinkedIn presence. You'll get plenty of use from the unlimited downloads as you create three to five LinkedIn posts per week.

how to post on linkedin effectively - stock photoshow to post on linkedin effectively - stock photoshow to post on linkedin effectively - stock photos
You'll need plenty of stock photos, videos, fonts, and other assets to create effective LinkedIn posts.

And if you're applying for jobs on LinkedIn, you'll want to upload an impressive resume. Elements has thousands of resume templates for Microsoft Word and other apps you may be using.

By using professional creative elements, your LinkedIn profile and posts will stand out. On the other hand, cheap stock photos can hurt your brand. And relying on free visuals can limit your ability to show diversity.

Another benefit of sourcing assets from Elements is that you can use them to promote your business. One license covers both personal and commercial use, so you can use all your Elements downloads without worrying about copyright infringement.

If you need only a few creative assets such as a single resume template, then a better source for you is GraphicRiver. You pay only for each use of an item. 

Uplevel Your LinkedIn Strategy

LinkedIn is a powerful tool you can use to achieve personal, professional, or business goals. In this tutorial you learned the answer to the question: what is LinkedIn? You also discovered how to use LinkedIn effectively:

  • Start by creating or improving your LinkedIn profile.
  • Create and publish strategic content.
  • Be social and engage other members.
  • Observe the results you get and iterate as you go along.

Remember to get your content assets from Envato Elements, so you can project a professional image that attracts potential employers and clients.

Editorial Note: This content was originally published in February 2022. We're sharing it again because our editors have determined that this information is still accurate and relevant.

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