The Whys, Hows and Whats of LinkedIn

“LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with more than 500 million users in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide,” said Jim Cahill, chief blogger and head of social media at Emerson (www.emerson.com/en-us). In a presentation at the Valve Manufacturers Association 2020 Virtual Valve Forum, Cahill offered ways to make the most of LinkedIn.


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The networking and content-posting opportunities on LinkedIn provide effective ways to connect more closely with customers and prospective customers, he said. Getting you and your experts directly connected with them on LinkedIn opens a path for communications that can build trust and loyalty.


“All your customers are likely to be on LinkedIn,” Cahill said, so it’s an effective place to provide them information about you, your products and your company. Customers and potential customers will find it easier to discover your company’s experts on there, too.

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In addition, the LinkedIn platform enables you to track the competition, industry news and topics that matter to you and your company, Cahill said. Customers also post and share, which may offer useful insights into their needs and plans.


While activity on LinkedIn benefits your company as a whole, it also offers opportunities for individuals. It is built on person-to-person connections, after all.

Your active presence on LinkedIn is a way to develop credibility, Cahill said. “It’s a great place to build your personal brand by sharing your interests and expertise.” It can help amplify your value in your industry while expanding that personal brand at the same time.


Cahill shared a few basics for making one’s LinkedIn profile strong and complete. In addition to filling in the education and work experience sections, be sure to tend to these four items:

Use a good photograph of yourself on your profile, preferably taken by a professional photographer, or a good-quality amateur shot—well-lit, in focus, etc. Your photograph on LinkedIn is basically your logo, Cahill said.

Add a background image. Select and upload a background image for the top of your profile page. This can help show who you are and what you do.

Create a relevant headline. LinkedIn’s default profile headline is your current job title. However, you can edit your headline to include up to 120 characters of concise and perhaps intriguing information about yourself.

Create a custom URL for your profile. LinkedIn assigns a generic URL that links to your profile, such as linkedin.com/in/your-name-12345. Cahill suggested taking the time to edit the URL to be meaningful. When logged in and viewing your own profile, click “Edit public profile & URL” at upper right. He recommends using your name and perhaps some relevant information, such as linkedin.com/in/your-name-valve-engineer. Cahill also recommended using this personalized LinkedIn profile URL as part of your email signature and on your business card.


LinkedIn is all about connecting with people. Cahill offered ways of making those connections by being a kind, polite and responsible member of that community, as well as offering value by sharing information. Some examples:

  • Personalize your connection requests. The invitation window offers the option to “Add a note.” Let the person know what you have in common and why you would like to connect.
  • Post quality content regularly—be consistent. Offering useful, non-marketing content makes you a valuable contributor to the network as a whole.
  • Be a guest blogger for industry blogs on subjects that relate to your area of expertise.
  • Be responsive. Answer questions and respond to comments in a timely manner.
  • Engage with others’ thought leadership: read, like, comment and share.
  • Share other people’s content more than your own.

Understand that your participation in LinkedIn builds your personal brand and effectiveness, while helping others, Cahill said, as you connect with them and share information and insights.

Barbara Donohue (bdonohue@vma.org) is web editor at VALVE Magazine (www.valvemagazine.com)