10 tips to optimize your LinkedIn® profile
In our previous newsletter, we discussed the value of having an active LinkedIn profile. Specifically, we covered the social network’s ability to help you build your brand, connect and learn — three of the most important things you can do to manage your career. In this issue, we take a deeper dive by focusing on LinkedIn do’s and don’ts designed to make your profile pop. And your cred tops.
- Do get a professional headshot
- Do maximize your headline
- Do create an impressive summary
- Do make your contact info easy to see
- Do request recommendations
The emphasis here is on professional. Your photo should reflect your credibility and personal brand. That means no shots of you at the bar or with other people or pets. Because the profile photo is featured in a circle, the focus should be on your head — specifically, your eyes and smile — photographed against a non-distracting background. This isn’t a mug shot, so smile! Thinking of skipping the picture? That’s a big mistake. If there’s no picture, there’s no sense of trust or engagement and people will wonder what you’re hiding. LinkedIn Learning Customer Success Manager Jen Jortner Cassidy says to think of your profile like a movie trailer. It should get people interested in the movie — or your resumé.
It’s your 120-character hook to people finding you. Instead of simply naming your job title, describe what you do and whom you serve. So instead of saying, “Communications Manager at Acme” say “Communications Manager at Acme: Translating business objectives into results-driven communication strategies and tactics.” Or in Cassidy’s case, “Promoting happiness in people’s lives through mindfulness and lifelong learning.”
This is your opportunity to introduce your professional self to the world. It’s a narrative — not a novel. Discuss why the work you do matters, how you’re evolving or where you’re going next. Be sure to include accomplishments and goals. To help create your elevator pitch, see Jodi Glickman’s video on Pitching Yourself in LinkedIn Learning.
Searchers can only see your contact info in full when they’re signed in to the platform — and then only if they click the “Show More” link. If they’re not signed in, they won’t be able to see any of it. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to include your contact info (phone number, email address and website) in the summary section before searchers have to click “See More” to find it.
Viewpoints on your strengths and accomplishments can enhance your credibility. Get up to two recommendations from colleagues and influential people for each of your former positions. When asking for their recommendation, give them talking points, such as “Can you speak to my timeliness and knowledge?” References also can address your character or what it’s like doing business with you. On a connection’s profile, simply click “more” and then “request a recommendation.”
- Don’t paste your resumé into your LinkedIn page
- Don’t skimp on sharing your experience
- Don’t get endorsements for skills you don’t have
- Don’t forget to make regular updates
- Don’t use the platform to pitch your products or services
It doesn’t do anything to enhance your personal brand. Go beyond a recap of your work experience by sharing relevant media like videos, images, presentations, publications or articles quoting you. Adding even a few pieces of media to your profile makes it more attractive and keeps people viewing longer.
The more experience you bring to the table, the more people want to work with you. When you fully describe your experience, you’re telling searchers that you can bring value and help solve their problems. Even if you think a past job or project wasn’t that impressive, include it! It just might be the kind of experience someone is looking for.
Delete endorsements for skills that don’t apply and don’t list your weakest skills first. LinkedIn allows you to reorder endorsements so your most relevant ones are at the top. If you need endorsements, consider asking close friends and family to endorse you for specific skills they know you have.
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, don’t just set it and forget it. Regularly update your status with industry news and your accomplishments. Becoming more visible gives your network an opportunity to engage with you and can set you up as a subject-matter expert.
A common mistake people make is to start selling as soon as someone accepts their invitation. The golden rule is: Never sell, always serve! This means engaging prospects by showing them, educating them, helping them or answering their questions so they see the human side of you.
Stay tuned for the next article in our series coming in our March issue, where we’ll talk about the types of content to share on LinkedIn that can optimize your presence and attract followers to your page.
By D.D. Kullman, Associate Creative Director, University of Phoenix