Does your LinkedIn profile read like a boring resume? Most of us refresh our LinkedIn profiles when we are looking for a new job, but upon achieving that goal we refocus our efforts on being a rock-star and forget all about LinkedIn. Obviously, we have to prioritize, but since it is now common to follow-up with any new professional contact by connecting on LinkedIn, it is important to keep your profile as updated, fresh and dynamic as you are.
Traditionally the domain of job seekers and recruiters, LinkedIn is now a vibrant social network through which professionals can build their personal brands and nurture relationships with influencers, partners and prospects. With the continual addition of new functionality and its growing membership of 380 million (as of July 2015), engaged users now use LinkedIn as a source of ongoing education, industry news and, of course, connections. With the below modifications and little TLC, you can refresh your profile to support your goals in your current role – improving your visibility, drawing attention to your organization and solidifying your reputation as a rock-star.
1. Identify Your Ideal Connections
When using LinkedIn to network consider it from the perspective of your future customers, partners and employers. This will help you to identify the best ways to leverage your profile to demonstrate your knowledge of your field and attract their attention. Ask yourself the following questions.
What role does my ideal connection have in their organization?
What problems might they be trying to solve?
What keywords would they use when seeking help with these problems?
What keywords would they use when looking for conversations to engage in or articles to share?
Which groups might they participate in?
Once you have a clear picture of the type of people or companies who would be interested in what you have to offer, you will be better equipped to optimize your profile to attract them.
2. Customize Your Message to Attract Your Ideal Connections
Now that you have a list of groups, keywords and concerns you can adjust your profile and activity so that you appear when someone relevant conducts a search. Tailor the wording so that it speaks of your unique ability to meet the needs of your target audience. Areas of your profile that you should pay special attention to include:
Your headline is searchable and it is the first thing people see. Make use of this small space to quickly and accurately describe your area of expertise or how you help those who engage with you rather than just listing your job title. This is a good place to insert keywords, but keep it natural and appealing. The goal here is to draw people in and give them a reason to view the rest of your profile.
Photo and Background
Choose a photo that is professional and where you appear friendly and approachable. Complete your profile by including a background that is reflective of your organization or the services you provide. Leaving these areas empty or using a photo that includes a boyfriend or pet can project the image that you lack seriousness or attention to detail.
This section should be clear and concise, but personable. Share your professional story – how your career started, how it progressed to where you are today, what you are working on now and how you help your connections, but keep it brief. Unless you are in a very formal profession, avoid speaking about yourself in the third person. LinkedIn is a social network – this is an opportunity to connect with your reader on a personal level and present yourself as someone they can trust and might enjoy working with.
3. Optimize Your Profile to be Visually Appealing and Easy to Read
Assume that anyone who views your profile will scan it before deciding whether they find it interesting enough to read. Review it from that perspective to ensure that their eye is drawn to your most relevant messaging. Include images to make it visually appealing and remove or reorder information that might be a distraction. Below are few adjustments to consider:
Secure a Custom URL
LinkedIn assigns a nondescript URL to every profile, but you can customize your URL to be more descriptive and professional. To do this select “edit your profile,” then click on the cog icon next to the URL under your photo:
On the next screen, at the top right you can change your URL by clicking on the pencil icon.
Choose a URL that is representative of your name and/or business. Then put it to work by including the URL on your business cards, website or anywhere else you promote yourself.
Make sure this section is filled out completely and cleanly. Include a link to your website and your company’s website. To make this link more appealing, choose the “other” option and add a name for the site to make it clear where the link will lead. To do this select “edit your profile,” then click on “contact info.”
This will open up your contact area where you can update information and add a website. Choose the “other” option when adding your website to enter descriptive name.
This name will now appear instead of your website address.
Add excerpts and links to key documents that your audience might find interesting and include a representative image so that they catch the eye. These could be blog posts, white papers, articles, case studies, videos, slide shares, or parts of your portfolio. You can add these directly into your summary or include a publications section. Select just a few or provide a link to a bigger collection so you don’t clutter up your profile. You can make it a practice to update your selections on a regular basis to keep your profile interesting.
Rearrange Profile Sections
For most of us, our profile is a work in progress. Remove and reorder the sections of your profile to draw attention to those that are most relevant or complete. For instance, if you put effort into getting recommendations or completing certifications but have neglected volunteering you can remove the volunteer section altogether and/or pull the others closer to the top.
The above suggestions are just a few examples of the many ways you can personalize your LinkedIn profile. Take the time to explore this valuable tool and use it to reflect your unique offering. Develop a clear vision of your target connection, customize your messaging to speak to their needs then make sure that your profile is easily scannable and contains visual appeal.
Once you have spent the time revamping your profile become an active participant. Staying active will keep you in front of your connections and will demonstrate that you are engaged and knowledgeable in your field. Join groups that are relevant to your business, participate in discussions and give back to your community by engaging with their activity. With a little time and attention, you will have an active and engaging profile that you can leverage for continued business success.
Of course, now that I have written this blog post I have to admit that my own LinkedIn profile needs work. Sigh . . . back to the trenches.
I am certainly not the only one writing on this topic. In fact, the coverage is quite extensive. I produce my own material, not because I don’t feel it is covered adequately but because it helps me to organize my research and serves as a resource for my current and potential clients. To that end, below are a few of the sources I found useful while creating this post.