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Top 5 Tips to a Memorable Profile on LinkedIn
Hello and welcome to the first of two articles concerning LinkedIn. I decided to make LinkedIn the subject of two dedicated tutorials because I found it comes back in conversation. Folks ask about what to put in their profile, who to connect with, or what the point of groups is. I propose to address these questions in two parts. In the first part, in this article, we will look at how to build a good LinkedIn profile – in contrast to many profiles on LinkedIn whose quality is poor and therefore give a bad impression of the profile owner. Next, we will look at how to leverage your LinkedIn presence, such as who to connect with and what groups to become a part of.
I think it is fair to say that LinkedIn has become the so-called “go-to” site for looking up people’s professional profile. In so far as you are a professional and LinkedIn is the premier social media site for employers and recruiters, my personal view is that it is no longer possible NOT to have a presence on LinkedIn. Even if you are not very active on LinkedIn, let me recommend you at least be present and can be found on LinkedIn. Like keeping your CV current, being on LinkedIn is good professional housekeeping. But if you decide to be present, then it is important that your profile be of good quality, lest it backfire and negatively affect your professional image. Recent research reveals what elements are important to headhunters and employers reviewing LinkedIn profiles: first comes experience (65%) – that is your track record and work achievements which showcase what you are capable of; then comes education (37%); third are recommendations (31%) – which lend you credibility; and finally, last but not least, the fact that your profile is being kept updated (30%).
Tip #1 – work towards a complete profile
By now, I hope to have given you enough reasons to make the effort and invest in building up your LinkedIn profile. As you set out to do so, you will see that LinkedIn guides you and, as you progress, keeps track of the degree of completeness of your profile. Though the site guides you, it may at times feel confusing so take your time. What is often confusing is that there is a lot of redundancy in LinkedIn: that is to say that there are more than one way to do something – this is useful too however. If you get lost, scroll down the page and use the help centre. Some of the FAQs will sort you out straightaway but if not, ping an email with your query: my experience is that you will get a detailed, often step-by-step answer within a few days.
Tip #2 – Ensure your profile looks good
Looking at some of the profiles on LinkedIn, I cannot help but be appalled I must confess:
· Numerous typos have me imagining the person must not care about the image they project;
· The profile is too sparsely populated making me wonder if that person is even real; and
· The roles they’ve had are unclear so I am unable to figure what they are capable of.
To my mind, it is like handing out to someone a business card which is all crumpled up because you carried it for too long in your pocket. Would you do that? If not, then why take such little care of your LinkedIn profile? Why does your shop window display dirty laundry instead of your gems? I have some to think of LinkedIn as a public database of CVs: I don’t think the creators of LinkedIn would agree with me but I maintain that LinkedIn is a vast, global, directory of publicly-available résumés. I have yet to meet someone who does not want for their CV to look good so do the same when it comes to your profile on LinkedIn. Thinking back to the issues I listed earlier:
· Write your text in Wordor an equivalent programme, spell-check it there and then copy-paste it in LinkedIn when it looks all polished. Linkedin has no spell check functionality;
· Showcase your achievements at work and your professional competencies and come across as a three-dimensional human being with a rich track record; and
· Ensure that the information you share is accurate and verifiable. Resist beefing up your profile because the short-term gain more than likely will lead to long-term pain...
Tip #3 – Pay special attention to those key sections
·Always add a photo. It makes you more tangibly real and creates a good impression. Make sure it is a good quality shot: some folks use a professionally-taken photo which need not cost an arm and a leg. At the least, do not use a photo of you in a social setting (save that for your Facebook profile) and make sure all of your face is visible. Lastly, remember to smile: do not show all your teeth but remember that a smile is a universally-recognised sign of welcome and warmth.
·Come up with an eye-catching tag line. That is the sentence fragment which appears just below your name. It will default to your latest role but I find this too restrictive and possibly confusing. Restrictive because you are NOT JUST your latest role title. And confusing because many role titles will not make sense to third parties. Your tag line is the first thing people see when they land on your profile so it will be fundamental to the first impression they form of you. When I was still in finance, I did not have there “Managing Director at XYZ Firm” but rather “Highly experienced risk management professional” because I felt this was an appropriate summary of my risk track record. Looking back, it was not very snazzy. I hope I have done better now...
·It is vital that you populate the Skills and Expertise section. Not only will LinkedIn consider your profile incomplete if you do not but those are the words within your profile which will be picked up by the search engines. LinkedIn has said that folks with their specialties populated receive 40% more visitors than those who do not – which is why they made the section mandatory as regards their notion of a complete profile. Highlight those skills which differentiate you. While having many skills is good, what is even better is to be endorsed for your skills. Being endorsed lends you credibility around your competencies. If, after a while, some of your skills are left unendorsed, consider removing those but you don’t have to. In my profile, I have a few unendorsed skills. All are real and verifiable (e.g. MBTI). Some bear witness to past expertise (e.g. Basel II) which, while less relevant today, remain a part of my career landscape.
· Ask for recommendations. LinkedIn requires at least three in order for your profile to be complete. I think five is a nice number. I actually do not think you need more than 10 as there seems to be a law of diminishing returns. Recommendations – just like endorsement for your skills and expertise – give you legitimacy around your work accomplishments and career track record. While LinkedIn is heavily trawled by head hunters, employers and customers and while it has not had the security issues some other social media sites have struggled with, there are phantom profiles on LinkedIn and there is spam floating around which the site tries to police. Risk not being viewed as a ghost or a spammer. Endorsements and recommendations make you real.
Tip #4 – be contactable
You might be surprised to read/ hearthat LinkedIn does not provide you with a section where you can enter your email address. That is because the site wants you to use their InMail functionality in order to connect with others (more on how to connect in the next instalment). You will however find a section marked ‘Other’ in the part around your contact details so use that for your email address.
Tip #5 – think about who should see what
In LinkedIn, you can have several profiles. You may have profiles in different languages. But your profile also displays differently depending on how you manage your privacy settings. Most individuals show more to their connections than to everyone on LinkedIn. There is no right or wrong here: you may want to be transparent and show your profile to anyone member of LinkedIn. However, be mindful of what others in your current company can see and what message they might take away, especially if you can be seen to be encouraging alternative employment offers.
There you have it: five simple tips to put together a clear, honest and memorable profile on LinkedIn whereby you showcase your achievements and enhance both your visibility and employability. Was this helpful? If you are already on LinkedIn, is that also how you went about building your LinkedIn profile? Do you have other tips you might kindly share?
© Coaching For Inspiration, 2013