With 467 million members in over 200 countries, LinkedIn is the ultimate success story in the social networking arena. So it’s more important than ever to make sure your LinkedIn profile is working for you. LinkedIn attracts 106 million unique visitors a month – potential employers and clients, recruiters, and, don’t forget, competitors with similar skill sets. To stand out in this crowd, keep it fresh. Your profile isn’t just a repository for your CV, it’s your online ambassador, always working to promote your unique value and advance your career.
So how can you leverage LinkedIn’s tools to build the best profile? Stay on top of the essentials, and bring your professional image to life with updates that show how versatile and future-focused you are.
The basics: profiles with pictures make you 36 times more likely to receive a message on LinkedIn, so don’t skip this step.
The upgrade: a recent picture, in a professional setting, demonstrates awareness of the importance of images on social media. Your picture shows that you take your career seriously (and didn’t just crop out some friends from a Facebook pic). Profiles with professional pictures are 14 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn.
The benefits: Recognition is a key factor in visitor response to profiles. Contacts, clients, colleagues, and classmates will remember you, or recognize you when you meet at a trade show or conference. Networking is more effective when you can put a face to a name. Make sure that face is shown in the best possible light.
In the Headlines
The basics: by default, LinkedIn populates the headline field with your current employer and job title, so recruiters and prospective clients know where you work.
The upgrade: customize this space to send a more impactful message that pairs action with outcome. You have 120 characters to tell potential employers what you can offer. What’s more compelling: Generic Title, at XYZ Co., or “CRM expert helping small to mid-size businesses improve efficiency (+15%) through business process automation”? If you’re exploring a career transition, this is where you can describe the role you want to play in a new business context.
The benefits: the headline is the only part of your profile that appears in Google searches for your name, so it can make the difference between getting clicks and getting ignored. And of course, key words in your headline (and throughout your profile) help recruiters find you when they search for particular skills.
(Expert tip: every profile field has a character limit, so it’s helpful to compose your text in Word before you input in LinkedIn, to avoid hassles and maximize impact. Check out a list of the limitations here.)
Summaries that Step Up Your Game
The basics: your summary puts your work experience in context so you can explain your accomplishments and goals. Unlike a strictly formatted CV, the summary enables you to express yourself personally, and focus as much on future opportunities as past experience.
The upgrade: your summary shouldn’t be static. Update it whenever you have a new project to highlight, a skill to feature, or a qualification that enhances your value to employers or clients. You’re on stage, so put the spotlight on your most valuable assets and keep them current.
The benefits: the summary should be a living document, where viewers see your career progress. This is when update notifications are most effective; LinkedIn lets your contacts know that you have something new to share, so they’re prompted to add skill endorsements and refresh their vision of your capabilities and interests.
Show and Tell
The basics: LinkedIn helps you improve your visibility by adding multimedia elements to your profile. Photos, videos, and slideshow presentations form an online portfolio that proves your capabilities.
The upgrade: Use LinkedIn’s publishing platform to demonstrate your writing skills, add your voice to conversations about business topics that interest you, and expand your network. Employers want people who are engaged and share their expertise!
The benefits: If a picture is worth 1000 words, imagine the value of a training video you developed or an infographic illustrating a novel business solution. These tools answer the question employers always have in mind when they read a profile: What can you do for me?
Remember to add new skills or endorsements to LinkedIn frequently. By keeping your LinkedIn profile current, you’ll keep yourself interesting and relevant to potential employers.