There are three keys to being successful on LinkedIn.
- Getting Found
- Finding Others
And as I explain in my workshops the most important factor when it comes to #1 GETTING FOUND is your PROFILE. If you do not take the time to craft your profile so that you can achieve “All-Star” status then you will never achieve your full potential on LinkedIn.
Let me take a minute to explain what I mean by “GETTING FOUND”. Obviously, if someone knows your name, or even the company you work for, it is a relatively easy process to find you on LinkedIn. But, what I mean by “GETTING FOUND” is making sure your profile appears in the search results for the product or service you provide by people who do not know you by name, but are simply searching for the services you offer. This is one of the major reasons that your profile is of such great importance to you.
If you try putting it together in anything under an hour, it’s probably not serving you well. If you put it together in under five minutes, you would almost certainly be better off not having it at all, because it will be so incomplete it just won’t work for you.
Think about your LinkedIn profile as your own personal website where you have the opportunity to present yourself to over 400 million other professionals all around the world. Always keep in mind that your profile should be, in fact, I would go as far as to say it must be representative of how you want to be viewed in the LinkedIn professional community.
If you were trying to convince someone to hire you, or to trust you enough to purchase your product or services, would you just tell them half the story and let them figure out the rest? Of course you wouldn’t. But, if your profile is full of gaps, that’s what you are doing.
A great LinkedIn profile can help you grow your business, your connections and it will help you gain new clients or maybe even a new career. You can’t afford to be careless about putting it together.
Here are some tips, based upon my experience that I believe you need to follow in order to make the most of your LinkedIn profile:
Write an effective headline and use a professional photo.
You are allowed 120 characters for your headline, so you need to weigh every word, perhaps even every character, to ensure you make a powerful branding statement about yourself. You need to stand out and use popular search keywords to describe yourself. Mine says: Steve Loates: Online & Social Media Marketing Consultant | LinkedIn Coach, Speaker & Trainer | Helping Professional Service Firms Grow. The phrase I use in my workshops is to make sure your headline is “clickable”.
In 120 characters, you can see that I used crucial keywords to fully describe myself, and the range of services I offer. I even got my tag line in. I should also say at this point that I do experiment with changing my headline at least every 90 days to see if one works for me better than another. Always be test and measure until you find the one that works best for you.
Remember that your headline follows you, along with your photo, all throughout LinkedIn, so be sure that it stands out and wants to be found. With your photo, it should always look professional. (Remember this is not Facebook) Invest in having your photo professionally done. I believe a head and shoulder shot is best. Also make sure that the photo is representative of you, as you currently appear, not how you looked 15 years ago. I can tell you from an embarrassing personal experience that going to a meeting and not recognizing the other party even though you had looked at their LinkedIn profile is not a good start to a meeting. (The picture on their LinkedIn profile was at least 15 years old!)
I should also mention that on the LinkedIn mobile app your profile headline doesn’t display the full 120 characters so take a look at yours to see how it looks. And by the way, if you haven’t checked out the new mobile app yet make sure you do. Remember, 50% of LinkedIn users utilize mobile and the new LinkedIn app is a great improvement.
Prepare a compelling summary
The summary section of your profile is a blank slate where you have 2000 characters to hook your reader by telling them how you can be useful in their lives. You need to be clear about who you can help, what services they will get from you, and why you are the best person to help them. Remember, people will care much less about what you do and much more about how you can help them.
The difference between a good summary and a bad one is all about clarity and the avoidance of buzzwords and jargon. Write in short chunks of content, not great long sentences. I also believe you should write it in first person as if you are speaking directly to your audience.
To craft the best summary, make sure that you know the answer to these three questions before you begin to write it:
- Who is my target audience?
- What are their problems and challenges?
- What should they do when they find your profile?
Leave room to add information about your most important accomplishments, your values and passions and your unique skills and experiences. It can also be a good idea to check out some of your competitor’s profiles before you write your own so you can better differentiate yourself.
Remember that your experience is your credibility key.
Establish your credibility by illustrating the type of work you have done, but only if it is relevant or contributed greatly to the establishment of your professional reputation and experience. This is not just your resume. There is no need to recount every single job you did.
Endorsements are gold.
Good endorsements validate that you are who you say you are, and that you can do what you say you can do. Once a month you should visit the endorsement section of your profile and clean it up. Simply click on “Manage Endorsements” in the tool bar. Make sure that you edit your endorsements regularly so that only those that are important to you appear on your profile.
And don’t forget, if you want to receive endorsements it is probably a good idea to give them.
Do not hesitate to ask for recommendations.
Perhaps it’s a throwback to times before social media, but excellent recommendations still carry more weight with people than endorsements. Go after recommendations vigorously since you can never, never have enough. And be sure to keep asking for them since they are dated.
Cite your publications if you have them.
If you have written books, white papers, a great thesis, or had your research published in a peer-reviewed journal, be sure to include mention of these and links to access them if possible.
Additional information should round out your LinkedIn profile.
In the additional information section, round out your profile by adding things that you are particularly interested in and some personal details you may be willing to share about yourself. Always remember that people do business with other people, and if they can see that you share a common interest, that may be the link they need to get in touch with you.
Add details to all remaining sections.
List your volunteer work in the Organizations and Volunteer Work section because it shows you care and that’s an attractive quality. In the Education and Courses section, don’t be shy. List your degrees, extra training and certifications.
In the “People and Companies to follow” section I like to include a few non-profit organizations I support.
If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is. And once it is done you should go back to your profile regularly (at least once a month) and ensure that it is up to date.
Don’t Forget To Add Those Keywords.
Just like you do when trying to get your website to rank well in Google, you do need to add keywords throughout your LinkedIn profile. These keywords, or phrases, should be the terms you believe people use to search for your product or service, and when they are using them you want your profile to appear in those search results.
The important areas where you need to include these keywords are in your headline, summary, and work experience (Current and Past). However, do not limit yourself to only these areas…you can also include them throughout the other sections….Skills and Endorsements for example.
And that is it for now. I hope you found a useful tip or two. Now go and make that profile even more awesome and if you have any questions about your LinkedIn profile please send me an email and I will do my best to help.
Until next time. I wish you continued success.
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