Maximizing Your LinkedIn Profile
Is your LinkedIn profile working as well as it could be for you? Even though most professionals have a LinkedIn profile, many are not complete, and others could be improved so that it's as efficient as possible - regardless of your goals.
While LinkedIn is spending a lot of time and resources developing itself into a job-search engine, LinkedIn is still a great place to share content (even though they aren't making it any easier), and to keep in touch with colleagues and other professionals.
Whether you are a "lurker" (look at other's profiles and posts but don't have any activity on your own...) or are regularly engaging on LinkedIn, the first step is to make sure you're maximizing your profile. LinkedIn is your online resume. Assume that anyone with whom you come in contact will check you out on LinkedIn before a meeting, before they hear you speak, before they respond to a connection request. Make sure you're making the impression you intend.
- Include a Photo! Not a picture of you at the bar, but a professional (or professional-looking) head shot that is appropriate for your position. (If you're a bartender, go ahead and post the pic of you at the bar....otherwise: no. Not even if you're having a good hair day!).
- Customize your URL: Pull down the menu under your photo in the header and you'll see "Edit Public Profile & URL". This is where you can change the bunch of letters, symbols and numbers that is your LinkedIn url address to a custom one that is your name, or your name and combination of meaningful numbers. For instance, My LinkedIn url is: Linkedin.com/in/barbhendrickson1
- Edit Your Public Profile is also where you'll decide which sections to show to the general public, and which you'll show only to connections.
- Edit Content: This section lets you add sections to your profile. Change the copy in each section by clicking on the pencil to edit. Notice that at the bottom of the section, you'll be able to choose whether you want the changes you've made communicated to your connections, or whether you want to turn that off. If you're making a LOT of changes to your profile, you may want to turn that off. If you're noting a change to a new company or position, you may want to turn it on so that it calls attention to that change.(You can choose this for each edit you make.)
- Create a Profile Badge: The last item in that right column provides code that you can copy and paste into your email signature, your website or blog, etc. It's the LinkedIn badge icon that will take people directly to your profile.
- Include a Descriptive Headline: Where most people list their title under their name at the top, include what you do. What is your industry, what are some terms that people may search for if they're looking for someone that does what you do? Look around at your contacts to see who has a great descriptive headline. (Search engines start with the Headline, then move to the Summary and other sections, so the more accurate search terms you have at the top, the easier you'll be to find).
- Add Relevant Sections: Include as many sections as make sense. You decide on the content: your Summary can be about your company, while Experience can be about your specific positions and responsibilities - or your Summary can be all about you. You decide what works best. LinkedIn will prompt you through adding sections. If you've not included any yet, don't be overwhelmed. Commit to working on your profile just 10 minutes each week until you've completed everything you can.
- Settings and Privacy: Go back up to the pull-down menu under your picture in the top bar and select "Settings and Privacy". This is where you'll decide who sees what contact info from your profile. You'll also see a Communications heading in this section: that's where you decide what notifications you want from LinkedIn and how often you want them.
While LinkedIn IS becoming an important job-search tool, there are other uses as well. (Note to those who may be looking for a job in the future: NOW is the time to make connections and improve your profile - NOT when you're looking and are playing catch-up).
Next month we'll talk about how best to use LinkedIn if you're not a job-seeker!