LinkedIn is loved by over 300 million users because it is a business-friendly social media platform but used right it can be so much more than just another social media site if you make yourself easily found. It all starts with your profile.
The first thing you need to appreciate is that your LinkedIn profile is more than a social media bio or online CV and standing out is about more than just keyword stuffing.
Whether you are updating an existing profile or starting a new one you need to get to grips with a few basics.
Most users are underutilizing their professional headline, populating it only with their job title. Ubiquity will not get you noticed so use this space to write something memorable.
“John Peterson, Account Manager” will be overlooked in search results in favor of “Jenny Wright, top billing account manager available for new opportunities” or “Travis Kent, a specialist in client retention & profit maximization.” This is your first opportunity to sell yourself and/or your business – use it.
Visuals are important and no-one will look at your profile if you don’t have a clear, engaging photo. Try not to recycle one from a wedding you went to 5 years ago, a solid headshot against a plain background taken on a smartphone takes 60 seconds and looks immeasurably better. Ensure you have a background photo that matches your message to create a strong visual first impression for visitors.
Summary and skills
The summary section gives you 2000 characters to play with and is your first proper chance to impress. Describe your achievements, top three skills, and qualifications. Keep it short but add some personality; it is important to stand out so describe what it is you can do for people not just what you do.
Your skills and competencies should be refreshed regularly and written to include the myriad ways they could be described. LinkedIn is built around data so the more detail you add the better the chance of being found.
Growing the network
Making connections sounds like a pretty basic part of using a social media network but with LinkedIn, it is about quality over quantity. With so many users adding content daily you don’t want to miss opportunities because it’s obscured in a feed full of irrelevant content. Connect with people within your industry, colleagues, ex-colleagues, clients and target clients. This way you’ll always be at the fore to make comments on the most pertinent posts and be seen regularly by key influencers in your industry.
Recommendations and endorsements are vital to be noticed and building your authority but it is the Goldilocks part of your profile that needs care and attention to get absolutely right.
Ask a handful of former and current colleagues, as well as clients, for recommendations but ask them to include specific information. Ideally you want a recurrent theme for certain skills that you wish to highlight but also for each recommendation to feature something unique. It is important that you reciprocate with equal consideration but not immediately – wait a few days otherwise, the quid pro quo is too obvious.
Write articles on the LinkedIn Publisher platform and get involved in industry relevant groups, as they are a powerful way to add new contacts and show up in more searches. Content is a key driver for network expansion but it’s not all about adding your own content. Just as effective at winning new connections is engaging bodily with the content of others.
The advanced tips to creating a killer profile rest entirely on visuals.
Any article you write on Publisher will appear on your profile so use header images that create a powerful connection with the topic and represent your message. You can extend this visual pull across your profile by embedding media such as videos, presentations, photos and PDF files directly into your summary. You can even share the presentations of others via SlideShare to increase visitors to your page.
Skills and endorsements can benefit from the visual touch too as each skill will have small thumbnails of the people who have endorsed you next to them. What you want here is a mosaic of faces rather than a recurring pattern. What this means is that if you ask your friends to endorse you for all of your skills they’ll all line up the same depending on when they endorsed you. E.g. thumbnails of Sarah-Joe-Alice-Cody-Prajeeth-Grace-Ben over and over.
You need to manage who endorses you, for what and when – at least for the first 12 endorsements per skill. When asking ex-colleagues, current colleagues or clients to endorse you ask them to endorse you for 3-4 specific skills and try to randomize the skills you are asking endorsements for from person to person to get a less structured order to the thumbnails. The point of this exercise is to ensure your endorsements look natural.
When you include these visual elements to your LinkedIn profile it instantly becomes more appealing and engages your audience better helping you achieve your business goals.
In the world of LinkedIn, all roads lead to your profile. It’s your job to ensure your visitors aren’t disappointed with the sights.