LinkedIn can be extremely useful—especially when you’re aware of all the little hidden tricks that don’t get nearly all the exposure that they deserve. It’s great for personal branding and can help you build a powerful presence on the most popular social network for professionals. Here’s eleven tips to help you optimize your Linkedin profile without having to call your techie friends.
1. Completeness. Make sure that every section of your profile has been completed and that there are no blank spaces or obvious gaps. Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume, so treat it with the same level of seriousness you would your normal resume. Here’s what you need to have completed to have an ‘All-Star’ status:
- You need to add your industry and location
- A current position
- Two past positions
- Your education information
- A minimum of 3 skills
- A professional profile picture that represents your industry. This is critical for your Linkedin success! For example, if you are a Creative Director, you might want to have more of an edgier photo as opposed to a CEO, who would want to have on a suit in a traditional pose. Having the same picture on multiple social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ will help build your personal brand.
- At least 50 connections
2. Create Your Vanity URL. When you create your LinkedIn profile, the default URL that you get doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Instead of a URL with a million confusing numbers at the end, you need to create one like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisadougherty. This URL is far more friendly from an SEO point of view and is a vital opportunity to have your profile rank higher in Google and to make it easier for people to find you. Go here and click “customize your public profile URL” on the right hand side.
3. Get Recommendations. It is important to have at least three recommendations from colleagues, management, people you manage, vendors or customers. Recommendations now appear right below your job description for a certain position. Linkedin no longer requires three recommendations anymore to have a complete (or “All-Star”) status but it is still considered a best practice. Recommendations are written for specific roles and show up underneath each position in which they are written. They are very different from Endorsements and serve a different purpose.
4. Get Endorsements. Endorsements are one-click acknowledgments from your network showing that you are being recognized for a certain skill. If you would like to learn more about Endorsements, check out this earlier blog post. The reason endorsements are important to your profile is for search results. The more endorsements you have for a specific skill, the more likely that you’ll come up in the search results when someone is searching for that skill. For example: I have 59 people who have endorsed me for Social Media Marketing. When a hiring manager or recruiter is searching for people with the skill ‘social media marketing’, it is more likely that I will come up somewhere on the first few pages of the search results.
5. Create “Sexier” Website/Blog Links. Don’t list the generic “website” but brand it with your company name or blog name to make those links more appealing to people who view your profile. For example, if you want to include a link to your blog, rather than choosing LinkedIn’s standard “Blog” anchor text, customize it to include keywords that indicate what your blog is about like, “Social Media Blog or BrandLove, LLC Blog.” This will help optimize your profile and drive Google PageRank to your other web properties. Each profile can display up to three website links like this, and they can be customized by editing your profile, clicking edit on your website links, and selecting “other” in the drop-down menu to customize the anchor text.
6. Rearrange Your Profile. LinkedIn enables you to reorder the sections of their profile in any way you prefer. When in edit mode on your profile, hover your mouse over the title of each section. Your mouse will turn into a four-arrowed icon, at which point you can click then drag and drop to another position on your profile.
7. Search Engine Optimize Your Profile. You can also optimize your profile to get found by people searching LinkedIn for key terms with which you want to be associated. Add these keywords to various sections of your profile such as your summary (up to 2,000 characters), Specialties (up to 500 characters), job title (up to 100 characters), career history and personal interests (up to 1,000 characters.)
8. Use Keywords in Your Headline. The headline (up to 120 characters) is the first thing people see when they go to your LinkedIn profile. Unless you change it, your headline will appear as your current or last position held. Since this headline will appear in various places on LinkedIn, you want it to be more descriptive. The Linkedin algorithm seems to put a lot of emphasis on the words used in the headline when ranking people, so make sure it includes your USP, benefits your company offers or your geographic location if you serve a specific area.
9. Add Projects. I highly recommend adding a projects section to your profile, especially if you are a Consultant or Freelancer. By adding this section, it will allow you to name your project and input a URL. This then turns the title of the project into a hyperlink, leading the viewer to the project’s website and thus creating an inbound link. You can specifically relate your project to a position that you hold or have held. This can be a great way to show off your expertise in a current or previous position by showing viewers evidence that you know your stuff. The best part is that you can add “Team Members.” If you are connected to your collaborators on Linkedin, you can add them here and their name will appear as a hyperlink to their LinkedIn profile.
10. Join Groups. If there are groups related to your industry or niche then make sure that you join them and, if at all possible, be an active participant in them. This raises your profile to get it noticed by other industry contacts and you’re also adding value to LinkedIn, which in turn, adds value to your own profile. Just remember, if you’re going to participate in group discussions, groups are about COMMUNITY not YOU. You should participate by all means, but to support the community not sell yourself or your services. Did you know? If you’re a member of the same group as another user, you can bypass the need to be a first degree connection in order to message them. In addition, group members are also able to view the profiles of other members of the same group without being connected. Join more groups to enable more messaging and profile viewership capabilities. You can join up to 50 groups.
11. Build Your Network. Once your profile is in good shape, work on building your network. Here are some things to keep in mind: when asking to connect with someone, use “we’ve done business together” rather than “friend.” Be sure to personalize any requests to connect with how you know the person or where you met or who you have in common. If you do decide to try to connect with someone that may not know you well, be absolutely sure that you defend your network invite in the personal note section, such as saying you just purchased their book or saw them speak at a major conference. If you invite people to your network and they mark your invitation as someone they do not know, you will be banned (temporarily) from inviting new people to your network unless you know their email address.
I would love to hear if these tips worked for you, questions you may have and any Linkedin related success stories. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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