LinkedIn is the source for more than 80% of business leads, more than all other social media platforms combined. There is great value in creating an All-Star profile. Over 75% of its users feel that LinkedIn has helped them research people, companies, and groups. When creating your profile, you must be strategic. Let’s take a look at how you can build the best one.
Smile!… For Your Picture
Your profile picture is your first impression and gets you over ten times more views than not having one. You want it to be eye-catching and to show your personality, yet it should be professional in appearance. So, ditch the selfie and use a photo that portrays you in a true manner. Smile genuinely and people will be drawn to it, which will encourage them to continue reading your profile. Your photo should be current, well cropped, and highlight your face.
What’s in a Name?
A rose by any other name… This is the time to use your given name, not a “screen name”. Do not add keywords, key phrases, nicknames, humor, or anything else. You might very well be a rock star, but if you were not given the name John “Rock Star” Doe, do not include it in your profile name.
By default, this is your company and your position, but make it more. You have 120 characters to sell yourself, so use this opportunity to stand out. Your headline needs to be catchy, so people want to continue reading your profile.
When you set up your page, add an industry. Profiles with industries get 15x more views, which converts to your business growing.
You must provide contact information if you expect anyone to contact you. Yes, it is profile creating 101, but is often skipped. In addition to the basics, add a professional email address. BabyDaddy420@yomail.com is fine for your personal contacts, but the email associated with your profile should speak to your professionalism. If you do not have one already, create a simple email using your first initial and your last name. You can do this for free on Gmail or Yahoo. Be sure to open (if you have not already) and list your professional Twitter account here. Also include any other professional sites or blogs you may have and customize your LinkedIn URL.
LinkedIn allows you to customize your anchor text, so be sure to use keyword-rich titles. This will make URLs easier to read, and help people find you in searches. Making your anchor texts more engaging will lead to more click-throughs, which leads to more business.
This is the time to brag about yourself, so use the space wisely. Deliver a great opening statement, enticing the person to continue reading. Remember to use key words here so you come up in searches. Your summary should be over 40 words in length; this will help you to appear in search results. Write your summary in the first person (use the words “I” and “me”) and include any media to make yourself stand out. You can also include your contact information here, so viewers have a preferred way to reach out to you.
Obviously, you list your employers here, past and present, along with your experience. Be a bit more strategic than just listing them. Add the company name as they have it listed in LinkedIn, so their logo appears. This makes it look more professional, and also allows you to find coworkers more easily. Next, add your title, but consider how it will appear to future employers. Director of First Impressions may be a clever title, but will people really search for that? When adding the dates to your positions, include both the month and the year. Feel free to add detail to your job description, especially if the position requires a special skill or certification. Speak directly to your future employer and show them how well you meet their needs. Finally, make yourself standout by adding rich media.
This is like an online portfolio of your work. Add anything relevant and include links so viewers can find more information. And be sure to share the love by listing any team members who have contributed to the project. This boosts them up and shows future employers you are a team player.
Honors & Awards
List any and all relevant honors or awards you received. This is about two things: adding more credibility and having another chance at bonding with future employers who may have received the same award. Common ground is a great way to get the attention of a potential employer.
Your education gets noticed and gets you ten times more views. Be specific and only add education that is relevant to the field you are in. Pottery in high school was a blast, I’m sure, but unless you are planning a career in ceramics you can omit it. List the name of your school, the way they have it listed. Again, this will get the logo and the networking opportunities. The credential earned, and the area of focus should be listed, followed by the dates attended. You can list the month and year, or just the year. This is also an area to brag a little if you graduated with any special certificates or with awards. List any activities or societies you were involved with. You will be surprised how valuable a connection here would be. It can create an instant bond with a potential employer who might have been a part of the same fraternity or organization.
Here you can list any relevant certificates you may have received, including any continuing education certificates. This is a great way to show potential employers that you are dedicated to the advancement of your career.
Skills & Endorsements
This section may not seem to be all that important, but it is. You are ten times more likely to get viewed if you include relevant skills. Again, you want to be strategic when selecting your skills, and rearrange the order so they appear in the most relevant way. The most important skill should be at the top. People are more likely to endorse your skills in the order you list them. Endorsements will also help your search ranking.
You want at least 5 recommendations from current and past leadership, coworkers, and team members. These recommendations will appear in the order they are received, and the 2 most recent will be displayed under the corresponding position. You can ask for recommendations, but do not overdo it. If someone is not comfortable giving you one, do not take it personally. Many people are just not good at writing recommendations and would be worried they might do you more harm than good.
This section can be every bit as important as the others, so take the time to fill it out. Employers have said they view volunteer experience equal to educational experience. Add the charity’s name as they have it listed so you get their logo and connections. Really think through what you have done. Even if there is not a charity name associated, you may still have volunteered. Did you coach Little League on Saturdays? Put it here. Keeping a team together, being organized, developing a practice schedule… these are all applicable in terms of searching so do not sell yourself short.
List any relevant organizations you belong to and actively participate in. This is a great way to show your commitment to your career and another bonding opportunity.
When joining groups, they should be relevant to your field. You can only join 50 groups, so make them count. This is not the site to join groups you like on a personal level so keep it professional. Join as many groups as you can, only 16% of users have joined all 50 allowed. When requesting to join a group, be sure to customize the message. Do not just use the default message.
Follow all relevant news channels and companies you can. This will help you stay up to date with your industry, as well as add additional networking possibilities.
You can add interests, activities, and hobbies to your profile. This is another area to add keywords. I know these are your activities and hobbies, still, you want to keep them relevant.
A great way to boost your credibility is to add relevant articles you have written. This also allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your field. Include a link so others can read your articles.
This is your chance to get noticed. You should post an update a day. LinkedIn’s news feed is not as active as some other social platforms, so one post a day is enough to keep yourself in front of your contacts. It will take at least 20 posts a month to reach 60% of your audience. The optimum time to post is Tuesdays between 10-11am EST, so keep this in mind when posting. Share engaging content such as relevant news, relevant articles, relevant tips, etc. Also note that visitors can view your previous posts, likes, and shares in your Activity, so keep it professional.
Every time you make a change to your profile, it gets broadcasted to your connections and will appear in their feed. You can control this in your Profile Settings under Notify Your Network. I recommend that you normally leave this on, as it keeps you in front of your contacts. However, if you are going to be making a lot of changes, you may want to be considerate of your contact’s news feed and temporarily shut it off. Just remember to turn it back on when you are finished with your edits.
You can search for colleagues, hiring managers, jobs, and so much more. You can use this tool to research and grow your network. Using the advance features will allow you to be more targeted in your search. This can be helpful when researching company pages, as well as future employers. Use a variety of key words to bring up even more results.
Remember this is a community like any other, so be active. The more you put into it, the more you will get out of it. Provide relevant engaging content, and network, network, network. Leverage other social platforms and cross promote. List your URL on other sites and blogs, and even print your URL on your business cards and promotional material. You want at least 500 contacts, but you want them to be relevant contacts, those which engage with your posts and assist you in your career. As you expand your network, be sure to keep detailed notes and update your calendar with any meetings or calls. Stay organized and let LinkedIn work for you!