What Is Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI Score) And How To Increase It

If you are in academia and want to transition into industry, you need to take the LinkedIn SSI score seriously.

It doesn’t matter if you are a PhD student, a postdoc, or are unemployed. If you have a LinkedIn profile, you need to take actions to make it impactful now.

You might think that you can put this off until you’re actually ready to transition, but your profile is visible right now.

Hiring managers can come to your profile now and make decisions based on it. Decisions that can impact your job search down the line.

One of our associates recently shared the following story about their transition journey. 

I can’t stress enough how important it is to build your LinkedIn, 80% of the job search is done if you have a good LinkedIn profile. 

I went to several interviews, and I didn’t apply to any of these jobs. I was filled with recruiters in-mail. I am not exaggerating if I say that I would get an average of 15-20 in-mails per week. I also got my current role through LinkedIn. 

A lot of good companies recruit headhunters to find the best talent, so it’s their job to find you and you MUST make yourself visible for them to find you!”

Don’t wait until you are in desperation mode to harness the power of LinkedIn, start focusing on it now.

Your Biggest Obstacle To Getting Hired Is Obscurity (But Its Never Too Late To Overcome This)

If you are not ready to take your LinkedIn profile seriously now, you are better off deleting it. A study by Statista showed that having a “bare bones” LinkedIn profile is worse than having no profile at all.

Are you surprised by these data? You shouldn’t be. The job searching process doesn’t stop just because you’re not ready yet.

Internal recruiters and hiring managers spend most of their time looking for talent on LinkedIn. They can tell if you are ready for an industry job after spending a couple of seconds on your profile.

If your profile portrays you as an unqualified candidate, they can click a box and bann your profile from future searches. If this happens to you enough times, it will be very difficult to increase your profile’s visibility once you are ready to commit to your job search.

If, in contrast, you start working on your LinkedIn profile before you need a job, you will have a healthy network in place once you’re ready to transition and will transition sooner.

So, how do you get started? How do you increase your LinkedIn visibility and start building your industry network? 

You should start by increasing your SSI.

Increase Your LinkedIn SSI To Get Noticed By Employers

The Social Selling Index (SSI) is a LinkedIn tool available to everyone, not just to sales people. As a job candidate you have to sell yourself and your work, so you need to know how valuable you are. 

The SSI shows how your profile ranks compared to other professionals in your industry based on 4 categories:

  • Establish your personal brand
  • Finding the right people
  • Engaging with insights
  • Building Relationships

If you have never heard of the SSI, you should get started by finding out what your current score is. Just follow this link to check it out.

You will find your individual number for each category, each one can have a maximum score of 25. Adding these together will give you your current SSI out of a hundred. 

The higher your SSI, the higher your LinkedIn visibility.

You should aim for an overall score of 60-70. That’s when most PhDs start to tip off the scale in terms of employers, finding them, reaching out to them, offering them jobs, trying to get them on phone screens.

Below, I’ll discuss specific strategies that you can put in place right now to increase each of the elements of your SSI.

1. Establish Your Personal Brand

This is the first component that you should focus on because it’s the easier one to increase.

Essentially, it comes down to filling out as many LinkedIn profile section sections as possible, using keywords specific for the sectors of industry you are trying to get into.

To determine the keywords you should add to your profile, go through several job postings, put them into a word cloud software, and identify the skills that come up time and time again. Then, add those to your profile.

And I’m not talking about sprinkling 5 or 10 keywords on your profile and deciding that you’ve done a good job. I’m talking about getting 50 to 60 of these keywords into different sections of your profile, using both central and distal keywords.  

You can go very deep down the rabbit hole of optimizing your keyword strategy, but just by completing all the sections of your profile, including endorsements, recommendations, and volunteer section, you can significantly increase your personal brand score, up to 20 or more.

Remember that there’s the added bonus for updating your profile everyday. Don’t try to do it all once, doing a little everyday will have a higher impact on your visibility. 

2. Find The Right People

This component is all about having the right connection. How many connections do you have with employees in your target industry sector?

If your answer is 0, you need to start increasing that number now. So, determine your target position and start sending personalized connection requests to people working in that career path.

You must start connecting with people that are in the industry you want to get into well, before you need a job offer.

If you want to be a data scientist, you should connect with people working in the data science field. The more focused the sector and the more contacts you have within that sector, the higher your score for this component.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to broaden your connections. Don’t reject people just because they don’t work in your target position. 

Having connections outside your target industry is not going to hurt your score and it will increase your visibility because every time you connect with someone, you get access to their connections.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is very big on ratios. If you send 100 connection requests, but only get 5 new connections, the algorithm will rank your profile lower than if you get 60 new connections out of 100 requests. Hence, the importance of sending personalized connection requests every time.

After working with thousands of PhDs, I have found that this and the following component – engage with insights – are the hardest to increase, so make sure to give them special attention.

3. Engage With Insights

To engage with insights, you need to post on LinkedIn and interact with other people’s posts. This is called splashing around in the “LinkedIn pool.”

There’s a reason why the first thing you see when you access LinkedIn in the newsfeed. The algorithm wants you to be active, to engage with others.

As part of your strategy to increase your score, you can publish your own LinkedIn articles. For example, reviews of the field you want to get into.

You can also share relevant articles, but make sure to add some words of your own. It can be your take on the article, why you’re excited to share that article, or what’s interesting about it. Those extra words really add up.

You can also comment and start discussions in other people’s posts. People will appreciate your engagement with their post, it will make them feel validated and increase their visibility. 

As a bonus point, you can get new connections in your target field because people will be more open to your connection requests if they have seen you interact with their posts.

4. Build Relationships

The last component of your SSI is self explanatory. You increase this score by taking your relationships to the next step once you get a new connection.

LinkedIn knows how many messages you’ve sent, whether it’s regular mail or InMail. It knows how many messages you’ve received, and it knows the ratio between the two. 

If you’re only sending messages, but not receiving a lot, your score won’t improve as much as it would if you were getting answers to all your messages.

So, make sure to reach out to your connections and increase your level of intimacy to keep the conversation going and build meaningful relationships. 

The deeper you go with each connection by sending more and more messages back and forth, the more your score will increase.

Concluding Remarks

Your SSI plays a significant role in the visibility of your LinkedIn profile, So, you should start working on increasing it sooner rather than later. To achieve this, complete your profile, connect with people in your target sector, engage with posts on your feed, and build meaningful relationships. Don’t try to do everything in one day. Instead, spend 20-30 minutes everyday making small updates to your profile, connecting with new people, commenting and liking in the newsfeed, and following up with anybody who sent you a message. Once you reach a LinkedIn SSI of 60 or higher, employers will come looking for you.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist

Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of the largest career training platform for PhDs in the world - Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by 3 million PhDs in 152 different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published two bestselling books with Wiley and his methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

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