With over 450 million+ members, LinkedIn® is the largest and most powerful tool available to manage professional identity. Most people are not taking full advantage of this great resource. They often neglect their own professional brand while putting vast amounts of time, energy and effort into the company they work for.
It is time to change the focus. Now is the time to get in the driver’s seat and manage your own career.
One way to take charge of your professional brand is to take some time to update your tired, outdated profile. Is your profile simply a cut and paste of your resume? That is a start, but may not be the best way to reflect who you are as a professional.
When someone firsts opens your profile, they can only see the very top section. Make sure you take full advantage of this valuable real estate. Here are some things to make you stand out:
Customize your LinkedIn headline to reflect your brand.
Use all of 120 the available characters. Include your value proposition. An Information Technology Leader might have a headline that reads something like:
IT Director✦PMP Certified✦Mergers & Acquisitions✦Building cutting-edge tech solutions for global e-commerce companies
Add symbols to increase visual interest.
Make your profile stand out by adding symbols and/or lines to your headline or to the body of your profile. To find symbols, lines or images that will work, just Google “LinkedIn Symbols” and you will see several articles with options you can copy and paste. Here are a few to get you started:
LinkedIn is becoming increasingly more visual. People stay on pages that have taken the time to create visual interest and are not just a bunch of endless text. One thing you can do to immediately increase your visual appeal is to add a background image that enhances your brand. To find images that will work, just Google “Free LinkedIn background images” and you will see several options.
Double-check the industry you have associated with yourself
Make sure you choose an industry that represents your future, not your past.
Customize your public profile URL.
If you are not sure how to do this, I have outlined that here
Add a photo
Many people do not open the profiles of those without a picture. Your photo does not have to be professionally taken, but it should be a head shot that represents your brand.
Make sure your contacts can reach you.
Be sure you have taken the time to click on the Contact Info section and be sure your email address, phone, web address, etc. are accurate
Are people getting a clear picture of who you are? After scrolling down your profile, you want your reader to be engaged. Is your profile catching the attention of the reader? If not, here are some things to try:
Build a powerful summary.
LinkedIn is a social platform; therefore it is important to make it engaging. First person is okay. Tell a professional story about yourself. Make sure the summary reflects your unique brand. Also, you may want to link visual and other content to build interest. Is there a specific website you can add to your summary? Are there pictures or images that will help someone better understand you professionally? Do you have a professional portfolio you can link?
Click on the area to “Add a section to your profile”
LinkedIn defaults to some specific sections to fill in. There are, however, other fields you can add if they apply to you. Add all of the sections that will build your brand (certifications, volunteer work, courses, etc.)
Verify that your experience reflects your brand
In the experience section, be sure that you have done a good job of describing each role. It is not necessary to cut and paste everything from your resume. A good overview of the role and a few key accomplishments are best. Also, be sure you have used some powerful key words that are important in your function/industry. Look up your competition if you are not sure to see how others who are similar describe themselves.
Make sure you profile is full of cutting-edge industry and functional key words
Really pay attention to the “Skills and Endorsements” section. Rearrange the skills into the order that best reflects your brand. Look up your competition to be sure you have not forgotten key skills. Work with others to get them to endorse those skills for which you want to be known.
Make sure you are not inadvertently dating yourself
Take the dates off of your education if you are more than 5-years out of school. If your degrees get out of order, reorder them by dragging them into position.
Be sure people understand how good you are
If your contacts have good things to say about you, others notice. Plan to request a minimum of 3 recommendations for each recent position
Take full advantage of each section to be sure your brand is clear:
There is some good real estate on a profile that can further enhance your brand. Join relevant groups. Select influencers, news sources, and companies to follow that reflect your career and your brand now – not in the past
Build a minimum of 100 contacts. When you have met that goal, shoot for 500
Our careers are the only way most of us have available to make money – are you protecting this vital investment? Spending some time checking over your profile to ensure you have the most updated, powerful information representing your on-line identity is time well-spent. Invest a little effort in YOU and update that profile today!
If you have some other good suggestions of cutting-edge profile strategies, please feel free to list them below. You can access my profile here