10 Secrets for Veterans Looking to Maximize Their LinkedIn Potential

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By now, you've likely heard that LinkedIn is a key self-marketing tool for success in the civilian sector. Around the world, at all hours of the day and night, individuals are sharing content, updating us on their activities and engaging with their peers on this professional social media platform.

There are many useful and important ways to use LinkedIn to its fullest, and most users aren't taking full advantage. Here are my favorite tips for being seen in the right way on LinkedIn:

1. Check Who's Looked at Your Profile. 

If you're applying for jobs, wouldn't it be helpful to see whether people from the companies you're pursuing are looking at your LinkedIn profile? Whether you use the free or premium version of the site, LinkedIn shows you information on who has looked at your posts and profile. If you notice that a lot of random, unrelated people are looking at your profile, that could indicate you need to refine your strategy.

2. Use the Speaker Feature to Pronounce Your Name. 

As someone with an unusual name, I love this feature. According to LinkedIn, "You can record your name pronunciation and display it on your LinkedIn profile for others to listen to. This will help LinkedIn members to correctly address you." By adding a recording of you saying your own name, you further personalize the experience of your profile.

3. Highlight Your Featured Work.

LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to feature your work. If you've recorded a video, crafted a SlideShare presentation of your background (including military experience) or have other samples of your work, add them to your profile. At the top of your LinkedIn profile (below the About section and above your Activity section), post evidence of your skills and talents.

4. Tag Someone to Make Sure They See Your Content. 

If your goal is to ensure a specific person sees your content, use the "@" symbol and then their LinkedIn username to tag them. This shows up as a notification in their profile. Use caution here, however. If your goal is to simply wave a flag in front of them and get them to notice you, this can be annoying. Use this tip to draw someone's attention to an article they might have missed, an update that relates to something you discussed or the like.

5. Connect with Your Past.

You might think that college friends, past co-workers and others you served with aren't relevant to your future, but think again. Where did those college buddies end up? Where are your high school football teammates working today? Whatever happened to that young recruit you worked alongside?

6. Guide Your Recommendations. 

The recommendations feature on LinkedIn is powerful. Recommendations give us a view into how you work, the kind of leader you are and how others perceive you. Don't leave to chance that people writing recommendations for you know which keywords and phrases are most meaningful to you. Instead, offer ideas and suggest which areas you'd like a recommendation to focus on.

7. Reorder Your skills (for Endorsements). 

Using the edit feature, rearrange your skills in the order that is most important to your work, and impactful to the people you want to find you. As you apply for new jobs, reorder your skills to place the most important ones for those jobs up top. Ask people in your network to endorse you for those skills.

8. Keep Your Photo, Career Experience and Skills Updated. 

There's nothing worse than when a recruiter visits your profile and it looks as if you're still active duty (when you said you'd separated), still working for your previous employer or your profile picture is outdated. Keeping your profile updated and current is good social media hygiene.

9. Add Your Contact Information. 

Recently, I visited the profile of a potential candidate for a client's company. When I went to contact them using their "Contact" information, all that was listed was their LinkedIn page URL. Yes, I could send them a message on the platform, but why not include an email address and/or phone number to make it easier to reach you?

10. Post Often. 

Simply creating a great LinkedIn profile and expecting the phone to ring isn't realistic. Instead, get active and let people know what you're up to, share information and insights, celebrate the success of others and more. 

Take 10 minutes every day to review your feed, comment, like and share posts from your network, respond to invitations to connect and answer messages. Once or twice a week, spend longer on the platform creating content, sending personalized invitations and responding in more depth to posts and messages.

Does LinkedIn take time? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes, if you use it right. Like any marketing tool, when you have a strategy, clear goals and system, LinkedIn will return results -- whether you're looking for a job, looking for new clients or looking to keep your job. 

What you put into LinkedIn is what you'll get out of it.

The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty" (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.

A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.

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