I’m going to let you in on a little secret on getting ahead in tech. Treat yourself like a brand. And, like any good brand, you need a web presence where people can go to learn about you. You need your own professional digital profile. This is where LinkedIn comes to play.
Linkedin has been the leading professional social network in the world since its inception in 2003, and it has only grown more relevant. When I was beginning my career in tech, I knew that the time I spent on LinkedIn was a worthwhile investment. With over 575 million users, any content you publish has the potential to reach a huge audience. Not only that, but upwards of 90% of all recruiters use LinkedIn to source jobs! So many women in tech aren’t taking advantage of their LinkedIn profiles, and their careers are missing out!
Don’t Just Use LinkedIn, Leverage It
While I appear to be really active on LinkedIn, I actually only need to spend a small amount of time on it each week to reap the benefits of its enormous user base. So many people never even fully set up their profiles, and even fewer actively maintain them. Your LinkedIn profile should be as polished as you are when you walk into a job interview. It’s all about showing who you are. I’ve written up a full breakdown of what to include in your LinkedIn profile in my best-selling book, The DevelopHer Playbook. Still, I want to recap here the sections I believe are critical in establishing yourself as a woman in tech.
The first thing people are going to see when they go to your LinkedIn page is your photo. You want to look your best for your photo, so make sure you’re wearing professional attire. You don’t have to pay top dollar for a professional headshot, but you should make sure that there’s good lighting, your face takes up about 60% of the photo, and your background is neutral/non-distracting.
Your headline is the 120-character summation where you can showcase what makes you unique. When people search for you or get a connection request, the first thing they see is your photo and headline, so make sure it stands out and accurately represents you. Be as specific as possible: instead of saying ‘Senior Engineer,’ for example, also list your areas of expertise, such as iOS, Android, Python, etc. Your headline might look something like this:
Senior iOS Developer | Speaker | Avid Hackathoner
Python Developer | Health Apps | Women in STEM Advocate
This section is your chance to tell your story. This is where you can craft your narrative and help people read between the lines. For example, I highlight events I have won, the types of projects I have worked on for different clients, and my specific areas of expertise. For me, this is Ruby on Rails, APIs, iOS, Voice, and InfoSec. I showcase all of the intangible skills I have, both hard and soft, and write about them in a style that truly speaks to the reader.
This is the LinkedIn section that acts as your portfolio. Here you get to share the multimedia that represents you and provides evidence to back up your reputation and brand. As I was learning iOS and completing projects on my own time, I featured them here. Today, if I am interviewed for a magazine or attend an event, I add an image and a blurb here. This is where you should show off your own work in tech, too.
Interests are an excellent way for people to learn something about you so that they can start a conversation with you. If people do their due diligence before reaching out, they’ll notice your interests and be ready with some conversation starters. I know this because it’s one of the things I do when I’m networking.
Keep An Active Presence to Remain Top-of-Mind
Maintaining and cultivating a reputation on LinkedIn may seem like a daunting or time-consuming task, but trust me, you can do this. I am one of the most active people on LinkedIn, and I spend less than 30 minutes each week! And that time is so worth it because the return on the investment is enormous.
Anyone at any level in tech can do this. To give you an example of how easy it can be, I was a top 1% Linkedin profile as just a junior developer, and I did this without spending much time on it! The key is that I’m consistent. I’ve had multiple opportunities come my way via LinkedIn.
Treat your profile as a living document. Revisit it often so that it is always up to date. I do this at least once a quarter. On top of that, I post and generate content at least once a week to my activity feed. When I first decided to do this, I had no idea what I would post about so frequently and actually hired a social media expert to help me. More on this coming soon, and you can also read about the process of working with a social media expert in my book.
You may be surprised at how many connections in tech you can make by dedicating even just 5 minutes a week to keeping an active and up-to-date LinkedIn presence. I promise that if you remain intentional and consistent with your posting, you will start to yield results. So, what’s stopping you?