Your LinkedIn Profile: Advertise Yourself!
Are you making the best use of LinkedIn? You might think it’s only a website that connects jobseekers with companies looking for employees, but it’s actually a full-service social networking tool designed especially for business and professional people. If you’re looking for employment, LinkedIn is a must. A recent study indicated that 94% of recruiters use social media, chiefly LinkedIn, in their recruiting efforts. But in addition to facilitating job searches, LinkedIn can help you develop your professional network, connect with prospective clients, find vendors, generate business leads, and more. No wonder more than 300 million people use it!
If you don’t yet have a LinkedIn profile, it’s easy to set one up. First, decide what you want LinkedIn to accomplish for you. Are you looking for a different position? Want to spread the word about your company? Seeking local business connections? Having an objective in mind will help you decide how to “spin” the information in your profile and put it to best use. If you already have an account, how long has it been since you reviewed and updated it? Think of it as a free, online classified ad that’s working for you 24/7 while you’re going about your day-to-day activities. It’s worth spending some time to establish and maintain it.
Here are some tips to help you create an effective LinkedIn profile. Check out these hints from LinkedIn on the number of characters you can put in each section, the ideal pixel size for photos, etc., and then get started on creating your own online business tool.
Check Off All the Boxes
It shouldn’t make any difference what you look like, but the reality is that human beings relate to visual cues, so it’s smart to present the best possible image of yourself. A simple headshot is best, taken at high resolution in good lighting. Dress appropriately and conservatively, and remember to smile. You want to position yourself as a dependable, approachable, enthusiastic individual someone might want to meet in person. You might be able to accomplish all this yourself, but if you have any doubts, invest in a professional headshot.
Headline: Because LinkedIn is a search engine, it’s important to put some thought into the 120 characters that comprise your headline. Instead of just entering your job title, include some descriptive keywords to help people find you when searching. For example, instead of “Event Coordinator”, make full use of the available space: “Licensed Event Coordinator, Experienced Corporate Event Specialist, Convention Services Coordinator, Wedding Planner.”
Summary: If this part of your profile contains only text, you’re missing out on an opportunity to punch it up with high-resolution photos, infographics, and even videos. This is your chance to promote yourself with an “elevator pitch” that will encourage people to keep reading. Remember to include key words that LinkedIn visitors might be searching for. You have a 2,000 word limit, so don’t be afraid to include lots of details, including samples of your work, awards, volunteer activities, and community involvement. Be sure to end with a call to action: “Please contact me with any opportunities in these areas.”
Experience: This section can contain traditional elements found in a resume: where you've work(ed), positions, skills, accomplishments, etc. If you’re considering switching fields, highlight experience that will translate into other industries: leadership, project management, supervisory experience, etc.
Skills: When someone endorses you for a particular skill, it shows up in this section. Review this occasionally and make sure the skills listed there accurately represent what you want recruiters and prospective clients to focus on. If not, you can edit this section to remove or re-arrange their endorsements. If you want to beef up this section (especially if you’re job-hunting), it’s okay to ask your contacts to endorse you.
Proofread, proofread: Nothing says “I’m not the candidate for you” better than a LinkedIn profile with misspelled words, typos and errors in grammar. Find a friend or colleague whose English is always impeccable, have them review your profile and provide honest feedback.
Be consistent: If you have other social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, make sure they agree on things like your title and work experience.
Remember SEO: Review your profile to make sure it contains the keywords recruiters or prospective clients might be searching for: your industry, your location, job title, skills, etc.
Make sure your information is public: At the top of your profile page under your name, there’s an “edit” button. Clicking it brings up a drop-down menu. Select “manage public profile settings” and a menu will appear on the right side of the page. Choose “Make my public profile visible to everyone.”
Get a vanity URL: Your profile will look more professional and be easier to share if you claim your free LinkedIn vanity URL. Using the same directions as above, select “Your public profile URL” from the menu and change it to your name or another easy-to-remember title. You can even download a LinkedIn “badge” to put on your website that links to your page.
Be “fully completed”: See list from LinkedIn on what constitutes a “fully completed profile.” which will make your information appear more often in search engines.
Keep it current: Don’t let information in your profile get stale. Make a calendar note to review your profile at least once a month, add current information and find something to post about.
Once your LinkedIn profile is optimized, you can use it to develop connections, communicate with other professionals, and promote yourself online to the entire business world. It’s your tool -- use it!