Whether you use LinkedIn to promote yourself, market your business, build your professional network, or find a job, you won’t get the results you need if your LinkedIn profile stinks. Fortunately, you can turn a boring LinkedIn profile into a powerful LinkedIn profile with just a bit of planning and effort. Once you do, you’re guaranteed to get better results from your LinkedIn activities.
Keep in mind, LinkedIn is known as the social network for professionals, so your LinkedIn profile should match that image. Understanding the difference between why people use LinkedIn and why they use Facebook is crucial to reaching your goals using LinkedIn. Follow this rule to guide your LinkedIn activities: If it’s inappropriate for your boss, it’s inappropriate for LinkedIn. Sticking to that guidance will help you err on the side of conservatism and ensure your profile doesn’t do more harm than good.
To help you find success in your LinkedIn efforts, here are tips to help you create a powerful LinkedIn profile that stands out from the crowd and positions you to reach your goals:
Develop a Focused Strategy
The first step in developing a powerful LinkedIn profile is to identify your goals. Why are you on LinkedIn? Whatever those goals are, your LinkedIn profile should be tailored to help you reach them. With that in mind, lead with your strengths that position you to reach those goals. You might be tempted to use your current job title in your profile headline (discussed in more detail below), but your current job title might be irrelevant to the job you want to get or the type of people you want to network with on LinkedIn. For some people, their job titles don’t describe what they actually do at all. Your entire LinkedIn profile should support your goals.
Write a Targeted Headline
As you learned above, your LinkedIn profile should focus on your goals, and your profile headline is the first thing that most people are likely to see. Not only is this headline the first thing they’ll judge about you so it must be relevant to your goals, but it’s also a key component to getting found on LinkedIn. Keywords matter and should be used in your headline to help people find you.
What keywords are people likely to enter into the LinkedIn search box to find someone like you who has your skills and experience? Make sure those keywords are included in your profile headline, but be careful not to stuff your headline with keywords. Try to strike a balance between usefulness and keywords. You want your headline to position you appropriately to meet your goals, not as a spammer.
Add Basic Information and a Professional Photo
Next, be sure to complete all of the basic information components of your LinkedIn profile by entering your location and industry, which tell more of your story and give people more ways to find you. Also, take the time to upload a professional-looking photo of yourself.
Complete the Summary Section
Complete the Summary section with a written description of your professional experience. Remember to lead with your strengths and focus on content that will help you reach your goals. This is the place where you can sell yourself in 2,000 words, so spend time writing a great, targeted summary.
Add Your Experience and Education
You should also complete the Experience and Education sections not just to demonstrate what you can do but also to give more people an opportunity to find you and connect with you. LinkedIn enables users to search for people by the companies they’ve worked for. That means other employees of companies that are included in your LinkedIn profile can easily send you connection requests, and you can send them connection requests, too. The same is true for people who have attended the same schools that you attended. This expands your potential LinkedIn network significantly.
Fill in Additional Information
Your LinkedIn profile can include a variety of additional information such as your websites, interests, groups and associations, honors and awards, and more. Fill in as much information as you to tell your story and position you to reach your goals. Refrain from including unprofessional or irrelevant information. Again, if the content is inappropriate for your boss, err on the side of caution and don’t publish it on your LinkedIn profile.
Complete Other Relevant Sections
LinkedIn offers several other optional profile sections that you can add to your profile if they apply to you. For example, you can add a Publications section to share your books, articles, and so on. You can also add a Certifications section, a Languages section, a Patents section, and a Skills section. Review currently offered sections and add as many relevant sections as you can to make your LinkedIn profile more comprehensive and powerful.
Make Your Profile Public
If you’re serious about using LinkedIn to expand your career or business, then a private profile will limit your results. Make your profile public to increase your exposure, your influence, and your network.
Publicize Your Profile
Add a link to your LinkedIn profile inviting people to connect with you everywhere that you can. For example, include a link on your blog, website, other social media profiles, email signature, and so on. You can even include the URL to your LinkedIn profile on your business cards, resume, and other offline materials and communications.
Get Recommendations and Endorsements
You can recommend other LinkedIn members and endorse them for specific skills, and other members can do the same for you. Ask for recommendations and endorsements from people who are familiar with your work and expertise, and be sure to reciprocate by recommending and endorsing them, too. These recommendations and endorsements are personal testimonials that are powerful components of your LinkedIn profile and really help to make it stand out from the crowd.
Not only can you build relationships and learn when you join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your goals, but you can also connect with members of the group even if you don’t know them. LinkedIn is a more closed social network than Facebook, and you’re supposed to actually know a person before you send them a connection request. If you don’t know a person you want to connect with, you’re supposed to send them an InMail asking them to connect (free account holders get a limited number of InMails before they have to pay to get more) or ask a mutual connection to introduce you to the other person. When you join a LinkedIn group, you can send connection requests directly to anyone else in the group, which expands your potential network significantly.
Publish Useful Content
A stagnant, boring, inappropriate, or irrelevant LinkedIn profile won’t get positive attention. In fact, it might not get any attention at all. The most powerful LinkedIn profiles are owned by people who are active on LinkedIn. Therefore, publish useful content frequently that is relevant to your goals. That’s the first step to networking successfully.
Find people you know on LinkedIn and people you’d like to network with on LinkedIn and start sending connection requests to them. Don’t be shy. Be sure to include a personal note with your connection request, particularly to people you don’t know well.
Being successful on LinkedIn and creating a powerful LinkedIn profile means that you have to be social and interact with other members. Remember, it’s a networking tool, and networking is about socializing. With that in mind, don’t forget to share and comment on other people’s content, too.