LinkedIn doesn't have to be taxing

Social media has changed the working world and given professionals the opportunity to develop their personal branding.

Whether it is for self-promotion, thought leadership or networking, these channels offer people a platform for connecting with a large audience.

While marketing and sales staff have been early adopters of social media - particularly LinkedIn - tax workers are also now advocating the benefits of having an active profile.

Research by Wolters Kluwer has found 83 per cent of UK accountants use social media, while for the fourth year in a row LinkedIn was rated as the most important website for professionals. This underlines the value being placed on the medium in today's digitally-connected world.

Why should tax professionals use LinkedIn?

There are over 330 million profiles on LinkedIn, a clear indication of how people recognise the need to have an online presence. Aside from being a great place to find new job opportunities, the channel also offers you the platform to create valuable connections with like-minded business people and companies.

LinkedIn is the world's largest online business networking tool, so finance professionals would be foolish to eschew the channel over unfounded concerns about maintaining a profile. It will not be too time-consuming, but could make a massive difference.

Typically, your LinkedIn profile will be the first search if someone looks for you on Google. This gives you a unique opportunity, as you can effectively control the first impressions that people will make by showing yourself off in the best possible light.

So how can tax workers develop the perfect LinkedIn profile?

Avoid buzzwords

What does saying you're a motivated, passionate and creative person actually mean? According to LinkedIn, these were the three most overused buzzwords on profiles during 2014. People prefer substance over style, so use your profile to detail previous examples of your great work. Banish pointless buzzwords from your profile immediately - they will actually make you part of the crowd, rather than help you to stand out.

Have a great photo and summary

Profiles with a photo are 14 times more likely to be viewed, underlining just how important it is to have a visually-appealing profile. Similarly, summaries with 40 or more words are more likely to turn up in searches. Use this space to talk about your accomplishments and give a couple of brief examples - such as any working groups you have taken part in - as this will add real gravitas to your profile.

Be a thought leader

Passive LinkedIn users will create a profile and wait for others to make connections. This defeats the purpose of being on the channel, as your personal branding will suffer as a result and you may go unnoticed. Publishing posts and adding rich media is a great way to gain visibility, while it also allows you to establish yourself as a thought leader within the industry. Research by Hinge has found two-thirds of accountancy firms think high-profile experts are beneficial to business development, so take posting seriously.

List your skills

Tax professionals have a high level of technical skills, and continuing professional development is a cornerstone of the profession. Don't be afraid to list all of your attributes and qualifications, as LinkedIn members with a skills section typically get 13 times more profile views. Including the industry you work in can also greatly increase your chances of being spotted and frame your profile properly. Connections will also be invited to endorse your skills - a great way to reinforce your talents.

Join relevant groups

If you specialise in a niche tax area, look for relevant groups to join. If you find there are none, why not consider setting one up? Groups are great for boosting engagement - your profile is five times more likely to be viewed if you are an active member of a group. This is a great opportunity to showcase yourself as an expert in your field, and one that should not be missed.