If you’re in the market for a new job, or if you are at all concerned about your professional brand (and you should be), you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. Maybe you set your LinkedIn profile up years ago and then promptly forgot about it. Or, perhaps you copied and pasted your resume and used that as your LinkedIn profile. If this is you, you’re putting your professional brand at risk! Not only is LinkedIn one of the first stops for potential employers and clients, but your LinkedIn profile is also often one of the highest-ranked results when someone searches for your name.
With all that’s at stake, it’s imperative that you not only take LinkedIn seriously but also that you have a compelling profile that tells the story of “professional you.” Here are the 7 keys to maximizing the value of your LinkedIn profile:
Have a professional-looking picture. Your profile picture is a key element of your LinkedIn presence. It is not necessary to have pro headshots taken, but use a photo that has good lighting, minimal filters and is acceptable in a professional setting. LinkedIn’s research shows that having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others.
Make your headline more than a job title. Your headline should succinctly convey your key skills. Populating it with your job title is a waste of precious real estate.
Optimize with keywords. Recruiters use keywords to search for candidates on LinkedIn. Ensure that you’ll be found by creating a profile that includes the relevant keywords for your field and industry.
Use the summary to tell your story. This portion of your LinkedIn profile should be a compelling read; it should tell the reader something unique about you. Don’t merely list your skills. Bring them to life.
Request recommendations. Recruiters are nonplussed by endorsements, where someone merely checks a box next to a skill you have. Ask current or former colleagues to write brief endorsements of your professional work. Recommendations carry much more weight than endorsements.
Write it for your audience. Your LinkedIn profile is another instance in which it’s not about you. No, really, it’s not. Be sure that your profile sells what it is you do for your clients or employers and provide measurable results.
Make sure it’s complete and up-to-date. An outdated, incomplete profile says one thing—LAZY. Take the time to flesh out each of the sections and update your profile regularly so that you can ensure that it stays current.
The bottom line
LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools in your professional branding arsenal, and it’s THE social networking site for professionals. If you are not on LinkedIn, recruiters assume that you do not exist. Maximize the impact of your profile to get the results you want.