You read all sorts of adverse comments online about the pro’s and con’s of LinkedIn, some of the negative I have come across are normally from people that have limited experience using LinkedIn or worse still not even been connected. LinkedIn is a valuable source of professional information. At the very least, LinkedIn provides searchers with a wide-ranging summary of your education and qualifications, your work experience and your achievements, whether personal or professional. When others view your profile, your headline and introduction should encourage them to further research your skills and expertise.
Because your LinkedIn profile is a symbol of your professional brand image, it is essential to make use of every possible strategy to maximise the perception that others have of you. The following ten tips will help you to build the framework of an impressive profile.
1. Make your headline compelling. Like a newspaper headline that is designed to grab a reader’s instant attention make sure the reader will want to find out more about you. Remember, the headline will appear when your name is researched, so include your most appropriate keywords and phrases that differentiate you from anyone else with your name. Think of the main keywords you want to be known by. Copy all the keywords and skills from your resume to your profile to ensure it will be more easily found in search results.
2. Include a professional photo. No ifs or buts, unless you are a professional lion tamer or you enjoy dressing up in drag your photo must be professional and congruent with who you are. Note: Professional does not mean only suit & tie, it can also be smart casual as long as it is a professional standard that works. It’s a fact of life that others will judge you by your appearance and demeanour, so a professional head shot makes all the difference. Although you can select who may see your photo, choose ‘Everyone’ so that even those searchers not ‘connected’ with you are able to see what you look like. Don’t use a company logo – it’s too impersonal keep that for groups, as well as being against the LinkedIn end user agreement. A pleasant head shot encourages searchers to find out more about you.
3. Use your profile as a resume. The traditional CV is facing extinction. Reveal to the reader the ‘why’ of who you are followed by the ‘how’ of what you do. Prospective employers can review your suitability, including your qualifications, previous experience, and skills, so it’s important to make sure that your profile is complete and detailed. Let your connections know what you’re available for, such as career opportunities, consulting offers, new ventures, job inquiries, speaking engagements and reference requests. Even if you’re not actively seeking a new job, it’s helpful to be flexible about your interests in case an interesting opportunity turns up. Note: Keep your personal presence and contact, this is not an excuse to stop building your relationships in person. Research shows that over half of job vacancies aren’t even advertised, so keep your connections strong.
4. Make the most of your experience and education. Your education description should include details about your studies so readers gain a deeper understanding of your background and experience. It’s up to you how much you want to include. If you describe your current position keep it to a few concise points that explain exactly what it is that you do. If you don’t want to disclose too much information, then omitting the description related to a position is perfectly acceptable. Just remember to use your target keywords in your description to help searchers.
5. Your contact information. Click the Contact Info button to get to your website, email, Twitter and Skype. At the very least, include your Twitter and up to three website links. Select ‘Other’ when setting up your website links so that you can use custom text to describe them rather than letting LinkedIn label them.
6. Ask for recommendations from previous colleagues, clients, customers and employers. Why? They help you to win jobs, find clients and partners, build your reputation and make your network more valuable… Take the time to write a personal invitation and specify what you would like included in the endorsement. This could include projects you’ve shared, details about your working relationship and comments about your value to the company.
7. Ensure your status updates are current and useful. Personal statements are a no-no if they look unprofessional. Share useful links, ask questions that could lead to the solution of a problem or mention a person or situation that could be helpful to some of your connections. You may have attended an industry update or a great course. Share with readers about it and encourage them to ask questions.
8. Add social media feeds to your profile so that profile readers can see what is happening within your social media. Again be professional.
9. Generate web traffic and help your search rankings by adding website and blog links to the ‘Additional information’ section. Rather than using one of the default options, choose ‘company website’ to add valuable links and keyword phrases. Note: I don’t recommend giving random testimonials to people you have not met or conducted business with as this destroys the credibility of you and the whole system.
10. Join LinkedIn Groups. These provide an opportunity to connect with the members of your target markets and industry peers. Search for quality groups and participate in those that have a visible group leader and genuine regular discussions. Focus on a few quality groups for the best results. By asking and answering questions, you will position yourself as a resource and build relationships and credibility within the group. It also contributes to positioning you as a thought leader.
LinkedIn is a valuable business resource. There are many websites that will tell you more about how to make the most of its features. By keeping your profile up to date, you will maximize your opportunities and visibility.