10 steps to optimize your LinkedIn profile

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LinkedIn Profile Optimization

 

This is a repost of something I wrote on my old blog in May 2013. While it doesn’t talk about the more recent LinkedIn functionalities, still a lot of people are not getting the basics right hence this repost.

When used properly LinkedIn is a great networking tool, there’s no doubt about that. Whatever your goal is; making connections, gaining knowledge or generating leads, LinkedIn with over 200 million users worldwide is a great place to be. Unfortunately this tool is very often used poorly and doesn’t provide the effects wished for. To maximize your potential make sure that your profile is done perfectly. Here is a list of steps that should be taken to improve a LinkedIn account:

1. Picture.

Use a good quality picture and face the camera. It should be cropped to have the focus on face with a bit of shoulders visible, preferably you should be smiling and dressed smart.

Don’t use a party picture with your friends cropped out or one you took at a football game. This is not Facebook.

profilepic

Also, remember about  consistency.
Your face should become your ‘logo’ by which, at first glance people will be able to recognize who you are. To get that effect, it is highly advised to use the same picture on all the professional communications channels – LinkedIn, Skype, Twitter, etc. If you don’t have any appropriate pictures, consider going to a photographer with your suit and tie on and take a few shots.

2. Header

This is another very important part of your profile. It is what comes up in search results so make sure to get this one right

Header

There are few approaches you can take here. Most widely used is what LinkedIn defaults to; the title & job combo as in the above example. Perfectly acceptable, safe and professional. If this is the way you want to follow, be precise with what you do – “Regional Sales Manager at Smith Company” rather than “Manager at Smith Company”.

Another approach is adding a little flavor to your header. Apart from where you work and what is your position there, give your target audience more info about yourself:

“Experienced Recruitment Executive within Commercial, Sales and Insurance sectors”

“CEO at Smith Company, leading eSourcing solutions”

or go really creative:

“Financial Analysis – “His exceptional analytic skills have delivered a long line of business improvements.” – My Boss”

If you’re trying to find an employer don’t write “Looking for my next challenge”, it makes you look desperate. Instead think of how can you showcase yourself to a potential recruiter and remember about those keywords for SEO.

3. Summary.

Another important piece. Your Summary is important for two reasons:

a. It is one of the first things that will be seen on your profile.

b. You have absolute freedom with what you can write there, not constrained by the formats used in different sections

There is no golden rule on how to fill in your Summary. One thing is certain – you should have it. Here are some good examples found amongst my connections:

Successful SAP-MM/IM Consultant, currently working for Accenture, have over 5 years’ experience in Procurement, Materials & Inventory Management processes (SAP-MM) and am certified by SAP Education as a SAP-MM/IM Solution Consultant.

Strong knowledge and experience in SAP-MM/IM, working in over 3 full life cycle implementations within the Mining, Cosmetics, Automotive and Pharmaceutical industries, following the Accenture Delivery Methods (ADM) and with cross functional teams. Also, knowledge and work experience in SAP-WM, SAP-PP and Workflow (SBWP).

Finally, all the experiences I had abroad surely contributed to leverage my ability to work with different people, cultures and environments. I am always open to new challenges

or

They say that most people are either “right-side” brained or “left-side” brained. In my case, I utilize both extensively, though my physical balance is out of whack.

I am working on reshaping Washington. D.C. into a vibrant startup playground. One of my initiatives is DC Nightowls. We host weekly co-working sessions around the city with the main goal to provide space and free wi-fi for people to keep working on their startups and projects at night.

In addition, I left my career in finance in order to become a developer. I am currently a student at Hackbright Academy, becoming a software engineer. Being good at something and being passionate about it, doesn’t always come hand in hand. So, now I am following my passion and I plan to be great at it.

Read my blog “Becoming a Unicorn” ( http://gulnara.me/ ) to follow me on my journey.

or

This is Who I Am:

I am passionate about self-expression, both for myself and my clients. I LOVE people, and thrive on learning, change, and pushing past “it’s not possible.” I’m a certified professional coach who is a small business owner and a former corporate marketing professional. My coaching style is best described as innovative, creatively strategic, compassionate, most of all, effective. I believe that ultimate personal and business success come when you operate in integrity with your core values. I also believe that while running a business is serious, you can and should have fun with it every step of the way. 

This is Who I Help:

My ideal client is the small business owner with BIG vision who is talented at helping others to live their best life. She is a self-aware, action-oriented, and innovative catalyst for change who wants to make a difference in the world. She realizes that she is her #1 asset and is willing to invest in herself to make her goals a reality. My clients include holistic healers and other wellness professionals, coaches, and more.

This is How I Help Entrepreneurs:

I’ll help you personalize your business and clearly communicate their services so they can reach more people and make more money. With your 100% commitment and effort you will see long-lasting results in both your professional and personal life. (…)”

When writing summary remember about what your goal is. If you are looking to get hired in the PR company, go creative and show of your writing skills. If you want to make a point of being a great software developer, be more precise and write where your strengths lay. Just remember that what are you trying to do here is to sell yourself, so have that in mind while writing a message that is consistent with your personal brand.

4. Experience.

Use bullet points, keep it clear and easy to read, it’s not a place for long paragraphs. Be sure to include all your professional positions and have them filled in, even if not fully then at least with 2-3 bullet points. Unlike your regular CV, which should fit one or two pages max, on LinkedIn you can have your whole professional history written down and waiting for someone to take a look at it. Again – remember about SEO.

Tip for the jobseekers: Keep your CV to 1-2 pages, with only relevant positions and add a link to your LinkedIn profile where recruiter will be able to find out more about you.

 5. Skills & Expertise.

Prepare a long list of skills that is consistent with your personal brand. Then start cutting out of those until you have a number between ten and twenty and add those to your profile. This will be a good start on which you will be building up in the future. LinkedIn is making it very easy to manage your skills and I found this great tool to help you do reports and keep you ahead of whats going on -> CLICK (edit – the page has been removed since the original posting)

Some people are advising to use up your full quota of possible skills, and while that is a good solution for seasoned professionals, it might not be the best approach for someone who is still at the early stages of their career.

The number of endorsements of your skills is not that important in most of the cases, although it is pretty good to have some. It just means that your social network is willing to back you up or was giving you endorsements in hope of your reciprocation. On the other hand, if one of your skills is “Social Media” make sure to get some people backing that up.

6. Interests.

Another good place to put in that SEO content. LinkedIn search engine is pretty straightforward – the more time you repeat a word, the more chances of you appearing when someone searches for it. You should add a few of your non-professional interests here as well, but bear in mind that this platform’s focus is about professional connections, and there are a lot of other websites out there bringing together  people passionate about hiking or reading nineteenth century French literature.

7. Claim your URL.

Go to Edit Profile from the Profile dropdown. Over there, next to your public URL click on the Edit button. It will take you to a screen where on your right you will be able to customize your public profile URL. Normally people use their name and sometimes add an keyword. Again, this section is pretty important when it comes to SEO so be sure to spend those 3 minutes on taking care of it – it will make finding you by your name in search engines much easier for others.

8. Make yourself visible.

Now that you put all that effort into creating your profile and are ready to show it off to the world, make sure that others will be able to see it. Go to your profile settings and make sure that your privacy settings allow everyone to see your profile – you want to make sure that the recruiter, potential customer or partner will be able to see your profile and search for it in Google.

privacy

One more part worth mentioning is “Turn on/off your activity broadcast”. It controls whether the changes that you make in your profile will be visible on your feed. If you want to hide that, make sure to choose the right option.

9. Connections.

There are few different ways to approach building your network:
a. People you know well
Usually the approach of new users. Inviting and connecting only with people that they know well from real life, limiting it to friends, current and past co-workers and customers/partners. While it is great to initially build up your network of connections and get some recommendations, after some time it’s usage becomes limited.

b. Relevant Connections
This strategy focuses on connecting with people that you want to get to know, using LinkedIn as a tool to get introduced to potential employers/partners/leads/etc. and keeping in touch with them after exchanging business cards for the first time.

c. Anyone
Inviting anyone you can, building a huge network of people. Usually people following this strategy believe that their large networks will lead to many opportunities.

d. Highly Selective
The opposite of Anyone. Relations are based on a small group of trusted people, creating an intimate network where every connection is highly valuable.

Strategy that you choose should be dependent on what are you trying to get from being on LinkedIn. If your goal is finding a new job, then it makes most sense to focus on people who can give you personal recommendations and recruiters. If your are in a B2B company, using LinkedIn as a lead generation tool, target appropriate people in different companies and your previous customers who can give your product a recommendation.

10. Recommendations.

Recommendations can be given in two ways on LinkedIn:

a. Personal recommendations

Edit Profile – Recommendations – Ask to be recommended

Ask to be recommended

b. Recommendations for products/services on your company’s page on LinkedIn
Here is a where to look for that Recommend button once you create those

Recommendations

The most obvious way to start obtaining recommendations is to ask your previous employers.  If you run a business and already had some customers, look at your accounts and connections, and decide if you should ask for a LinkedIn recommendation and whether it should be product or personal one.

Those steps are great way to build your professional LinkeIn profile and make sure you get as much as you can from your social media efforts through that channel. Of course, the steps listed above are pretty straightforward and while they apply to most regular users, there will be many who should take things further. Maybe you are a creative director for a photography company and want to make your profile picture more creative? Or you’re an aspiring writer and you want each of your paragraphs to be written as a short themed story? Be sure to find the look that is right for you while keeping it professional and remember why signed up on LinkedIn in the first place.

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