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LinkedIn has more than 756 million members in 200 countries and territories. Now owned by Microsoft, it is the leading professional network in the world. What better place to build your profile and pursue your desired career or attract the people who will enable you to grow your business? The key to success is building the profile in a way that attracts the businesses and people you want to attract. That’s what social media is really all about, but there’s a difference between establishing a casual profile versus one that is business and career advancing. That’s what the following discussion is all about – creating a LinkedIn profile that is most likely to help you meet your professional goals. Think of it as a LinkedIn Profile Makeover.
Once you've built your profile out I recommend reading our post about growing your connections and followers.
There are some features you need to address as a minimum in order to set up a LinkedIn profile that is attractive, attracts the right people and businesses and makes viewers want to dig deeper rather than click away and. Following are descriptions of 15 key profile elements and the steps you can take to reap the most benefits from your LinkedIn account.
LinkedIn offers several options for private settings, and you can decide how open or restrictive you want your profile to be. As you go through options, choose the ones that make your profile as accessible as possible for people. For example, private mode restricts the ability of people to see your photo. You don’t want that. On the other hand, you may not want someone knowing you looked at their profile. You have a choice in the profile viewer visibility setting to prevent them from knowing. Don’t make assumptions. Go through each option and make a decision that is right for you and enables you to achieve your goals.
Have you ever looked at a LinkedIn profile and there is no picture or a low quality grainy image? You probably thought the person was too lazy to upload a good photo, doesn’t really care about making a good first impression or is hiding something. Your profile photo is what people will look at first on your LinkedIn profile because it’s human nature. The picture you post should be one you took specifically for LinkedIn. Don’t repurpose an old Facebook image or other social media photo; choose a picture that doesn’t really look like you (Hey! We all age!); or choose one that makes you look unprofessional.
Have a professional take your picture, and use it. A high quality picture will send a message to people that you're a professional. Now you can even upload a video clip to the profile picture. Like privacy settings, keep the LinkedIn default setting on public so your connections, network, LinkedIn members and the general public can view your picture.
The cover photo is your LinkedIn background photo or background banner image, and it should reflect your industry, professional identity and/or skills. For example, if you are in digital marketing, you could use a background image with the icons of all social media platforms supported. If in finance or venture capital, an image of a presentation to clients is powerful. If you’ve done speaking engagements, an image of you on stage in front of a video demonstration gives you authority.
Some people use a background filled with information, icons and symbols that display exactly what they or their business is all about. The idea is to make yourself appear as a successful expert in your chosen field.
The first text people see on the profile is your current position. It appears under your profile picture and name and serves as a headline. The purpose of a headline is to capture people’s attention, and there are different strategies employed. You can state what you do i.e. writer, SEO marketer, chef, motivational speaker, author, etc. Some people share their title (i.e. Director of Marketing at XXX, Supply Chain Manager at XXX, etc.). Entrepreneurs often say they are “Founder of XXX.” These kinds of titles matter in cases where it’s important to show you reached a high level position in an organization, want to attract people in a specific industry sector or hope to find a new job at a higher level.
Another strategy is adding language in the headline that briefly expands on your role or business. For example, a CPA might mention she helps companies get control of their finances or an insurance agent could mention helping people and businesses find security in insurance services. Some headlines are serious, but others are humorous, like “obsessed author of fiction,” or entertaining, like “spreading happiness with motivational speaking.” The first few words are the most important to engage a reader.
You can go to https://lingojam.com/BoldTextGenerator to easily bold text, and don’t forget to look at what displays on a mobile screen. Bullet points take up more space on mobile.
The industry you select adds depth of information to your position title. You might be in marketing, blogging, entrepreneurship, sales, manufacturing, etc. The industry choice will also drive a lot of things, like the subject of your posts.
The setting you choose will determine if your contact information is visible and if people can share it. If you choose to make your email contact information visible, then anyone can email you. There are a lot of Chrome extensions today that enable you to pull information directly out of LinkedIn and automatically email those who made their email information visible. It works both ways though. If your information is visible, you are likely to get emails from people who say they want to be one of your connections. These may be people you want to connect with, but getting plenty of spam is a possibility too. Ask yourself if you want a lot of prospecting cold emails.
The About section is your chance to shine and let people know about your career accomplishments and to show your personality. There are some basic key principles to keep in mind.
The About section is the description that will determine if a person wants to work with you or investigate your business further; pursue additional information for an open position if a recruiter; or just determine if they like you and want to follow your progress. By making it SEO friendly, you position yourself within LinkedIn for coming up in search engine results based on keywords and key phrases, like landscaping, marketing, home decorating, certified financial planning, writing and so on. The search engine will use these keywords to filter results and determine when to display your account.
It’s important to understand that people will read your About section and get a first impression. You want to establish credibility, mention your accomplishments, promote yourself and engage readers with your personality. It’s a tall order, but you need to do it yourself and have a professional editor review the copy, if you are not comfortable with writing and self-promotion. It’s critical this section be typo-free too because typos show lack of effort and competency.
The book Linchpin offers a lot of great advice on how to make yourself stand out. It also gives ideas on being self-promoting without sounding self-promoting. It’s a balancing act, but you need to be seen as a winner and your accomplishments prove it.
People take different approaches to the About section. Besides accomplishments, you can discuss your goals, describe how you’ve helped others succeed in some area, tell a story about your career or life or describe your approach to problem-solving in your industry. What you write depends heavily on your industry. For example, if you’re in the nonprofit industry, then you will point to how your work has helped communities. If you’re in the healthcare industry, you will talk about the way you serve patients or clients. Some people talk about something positive or negative experienced in their life to personalize the description.
The About section is very important for growing your connections. More about connection and follower growth here.
The Featured Content section is a new addition to LinkedIn Profiles. The purpose of this section is to feed to other social media platforms. It is used to showcase the type of posts you like to create, giving people immediate insight into topics important to you. It’s another way to establish deeper credibility and grow your LinkedIn audience. If you are a frequent poster, then feature the most impressive content. If you are an infrequent or irregular poster, then feature everything.
It’s important that the featured content not be stale. Think about your reaction when you look at any online site, and the information is stale-dated. The next thing that happens is clicking away to a different site.
The Activity section shows what you’ve liked, commented on and said. The goal is to keep this section filled with positive industry-specific information. You can’t edit this section. It automatically collects and displays activity.
The implication is this: You need to be careful as to who and what you comment on, the posts you like, what you post and how you say what you have to say. In fact, any activity on LinkedIn can show up in this section. The last thing you want is something negative coming back to haunt you. Anyone can read this section, and in some cases, your activity could get into other people’s feed.
Always write positive posts and positive comments and like the accounts of people who are also positive. Commenting in a supportive way on the accounts of people in your industry also means that anybody else who reads your comments knows you are active in the community and your industry. You are voluntarily participating in the online industry-specific community and contributing your expertise and knowledge or letting others know with your likes who the thought leaders are in your industry. It’s all about maintaining your positive brand and reputation and collecting likes on your LinkedIn account from other people.
While the About section is a detailed description of accomplishments, the Experience section can showcase accomplishments in a quick way. Having said that, the Experience section can also include details and add more depth to accomplishments. The focus can be on your vocation, career or business successes.
For example, if you’re a salesperson, did you meet sales goals? If you’re a software developer, did you complete a project within budget and in less time than anticipated? Did you launch a business, write a New York Times bestselling book or manage a multi-million dollar construction project? Maybe you grew a dental business that serves thousands of people, enabled a nonprofit to meet fundraising goals or started a restaurant that has already grown into a chain.
Specificity is important in this section because it adds to your credibility. People who provide specific details are encouraging others to see them as truth tellers.
The Education section could be called the Education & Honors section. You don’t have to display this section, but many people do because you can also include honors. If you have a higher education degree, like an Associate, Bachelor’s or MBA degree, then list it. You could list industry specific programs or a program like the Tuck Executive Education program for business people. Think in terms of adding more proof of your initiative and knowledge. Degrees are not essential to success in many areas today though, so if you don’t have higher education or special training, then don’t display the Education section.
Your licenses and certifications are more proof of your skill level and accomplishments. Most licenses are earned through industry associations or government agencies.
LinkedIn offers thousands of courses leading to Learning Certificates. When you complete a course or learning path, you are prompted to add the certificate to your Profile. There are also thousands of certifications available online today, including some earned through Google, Facebook and HubSpot. LinkedIn makes regular changes to the Profile Page setup. One change is that a course or certification earned through a LinkedIn partner will no longer autofill. You use a vendor email to initiate the process to add the information.
Ideally, the certifications are related to your industry. However, some people add certifications for hobbies or side work, like scuba diving instructors. These can add to your image as a well-rounded go-getter.
The best advice for this section is to ask early and ask often because you want as many recommendations as you can get on your Profile as quickly as possible. Recommendations are similar to endorsements. In the Recommendations section, third parties make statements about your qualifications, job successes, values, work ethics and personality.
You can begin collecting them by reaching out to your colleagues, friends or clients and ask them if they mind writing one. They are likely happy to do so. Sometimes, they may ask you to write a recommendation they can copy and paste. That’s perfectly acceptable because they still have to attach their name to it.
The goal is getting a minimum of 10-15 recommendations on your Profile. The more you have, the better. Recommendations have a lot of value because they are third-party independent statements and serve as proof that what you wrote about yourself, including accomplishments and skills, is true. Think about Amazon product reviews. A product with great reviews from real customers compared to a product with no reviews is more likely to be purchased. The product review backs up the seller’s claims. That’s what recommendations are doing for you – backing up your claims.
The Interests section indicates the companies, associations and influencers you follow. It also shows the groups you belong to or follow. Once again, it’s best to keep them specific to your industry. Indicating interests creates value for you in several ways. They show you take an active interest in people, groups or companies that are influential in your industry. They also show you like being engaged in your industry and community. Interests also may open doors for you by giving yourself a reason to reach out to someone or some organization for a position or to find new business opportunities.
In what is now called the Skills & Endorsement section, people endorse your skills. You can add up to 50 skills to your Profile which your first degree connections can endorse. You don’t have to request the endorsement because the connections can deliver one without a request. The skills are grouped under categories like leadership, customer service, industry knowledge, tools and technologies, etc.
Click here to learn how to grow your LinkedIn connections and followers fast.
Endorsements are most important to people looking for a job. However, LinkedIn recommends them as a way to build a professional brand and engage your network. There are some impacts associated with endorsements. One is that a search Algorithm will use endorsements to deliver ads. They make you more visible to automatic filters that companies employ when looking for people qualified to fill positions.
Not everyone believes endorsements are valuable because all they require is someone checking a skill that you claimed. There’s no text entered except for the endorser’s name and title. Text is entered by people in the Recommendations section. You do have the option of omitting the Endorsements section, and you can hide a skill endorsement you don’t want acknowledged.
Also note you can endorse other people on LinkedIn which could help you develop and maintain connections in your network.
Posting activity shows up on your LinkedIn Profile, but there are some things to know about how LinkedIn manages the posts.
The LinkedIn algorithm uses dozens of factors to measure posts based on predicted relevancy and ranks them accordingly. The LinkedIn process for ranking posts is complicated, but in a nutshell, the algorithm assesses a post as spam, low quality or clear. If you get past the spam filter, the algorithm determines if the post is low quality or clear (high quality). Then your content temporarily appears in the feeds of your followers. The followers’ initial engagement within the first hour determines whether that post will show up. Death for your posts is when followers flag it as spam, hide it or never comment. Comments and interactions will keep your post showing up in more feeds. The time of day you post is important. If you post at 3 AM, you aren’t likely to get many (if any) comments.
This is a simplified explanation, but the bottom line is you need ten solid industry-oriented posts that engage your followers. Especially if you're trying to grow your LinkedIn following. As discussed earlier, you want to discuss topics related to your industry because it’s people in a particular industry you are trying to engage. If you are a personal trainer, you need 10 posts about fitness. If you are a financial advisor, you need 10 posts about taxes, retirement planning and so on.
You need five interesting articles that are industry related also. You can write your own articles, of course, or pay someone to write an original SEO-rich article. You can also find a great article someone else wrote, and use it to rewrite it for yourself. This is not saying you should plagiarize. You are extracting key points from the article and rewriting the information from your perspective, adding your knowledge, expertise and strong opinions. This is a simple way to come up with interesting topics, rather than trying to start from scratch.
Once you get your 10 posts and five articles, you need a plan for continued content posting. You can’t thrive on just 10 posts. Eventually, people will unfollow when they realize you have nothing new to contribute. It’s wise to post three times a week and no more than two times in a single day.
Another suggestion is to write a post that contains links to your other LinkedIn pages and links to articles. This makes it easy for people to decide their next step, which you want to be clicking through to other information on your LinkedIn page. Make it easy for them to know where to go, and you will engage more followers and more frequently. Once you have posted, be sure to share your posts in your groups. As discussed earlier, most of your groups should be industry related. If you write industry related topics and share them with industry related groups of all sizes, you are going to get solid followers.
The suggestions for building a strong LinkedIn Profile will help you leverage LinkedIn as a tool for career advancement or to grow your business. LinkedIn is a branding and networking tool, and like any tool, you must learn to use it efficiently and correctly to get the most benefits. Put some thought into the way you complete each profile section because this is a marketing effort that builds your brand and helps you discover and cultivate leads. Optimize your content for engagement, comment on the pages of people in your network and stay current on the LinkedIn rules, processes and algorithm. Do the work, in other words, and it will pay off.