Imagine attending a networking event on behalf of your business with a blank-face mask on and a few Post-it notes and crayons in place of business cards. In your bathrobe. Would you do that? This might seem like an exaggerated question, but in many ways, if your LinkedIn profile is not optimized and up to date, it may appear to others that you’ve done just that!
I will admit that I’ve gotten more than one LinkedIn request to connect in which I hesitated long and hard before clicking that “Accept” button because of what I saw on my screen. “Owner’s wife” is not a professional job title. “President of It All” is cute, but meaningless on a LinkedIn profile. And no, this time I’m not exaggerating!
8 LinkedIn Profile “Musts”
*In addition to the items below, regularly check your contact information. Did you switch Twitter accounts, change phone numbers or emails? Did you get a new job? The embryonic “must have” for a LinkedIn profile is making sure your information is current!
- Photo – It’s hard to believe that people are still creating social media profiles and not adding profile pictures, but they are. On a LinkedIn profile, this is a very big mistake! Your photo can be professionally done or just be professional, but the whole point of a LinkedIn profile is to let people know who you are and what you do. How can anyone ever know who you are if there’s no picture? Don’t go cutesy or silly here. Seriously. Make it count! What face do you want to show up with at that networking event?
- Headline – This is “what you do.” The Headline appears just under your name on your profile. There are several ways you can do this – with an industry, with a job title, with something a little creative but still meaningful, etc. The critical thing here is to use key terms. What words or terms would people search for that would rightly put you into their search results? Use those words in your headline.
- Summary – This section allows you to stand out. Again, key terms are important here. This is your personal mission section, your specialties and accomplishments. Don’t be shy. What are you all about?
- Note that people differ on whether this section should be in 1st person or 3rd person, as in “I am a ‘Social Media Impressionist’ on behalf of others,” or “Camille is a….” I prefer 1st person, because I want to talk directly to whoever visits my profile. I want you to know you are speaking to me, not someone else. But, some people prefer to handle this section differently.
- Custom URL – You are the only “you” out there. LinkedIn allows you to customize your profile’s URL so that it matches your name, but you have to select this option. It doesn’t happen by default. From the “Edit Profile” screen, and just under your photo, you’ll see a URL with an “Edit” option to the right. Click on that option to customize your LinkedIn profile URL, and Save your choice and “be you” with this easy edit!
- Customize Web Links – Want to get your blog or your business website more into the forefront of people’s minds? Who doesn’t! Instead of using the standard “Website” label in that field, choose “Other,” enter the name of your business or blog in the name field, and then the URL in that field. Viola! Instead of the word “Website” being hyperlinked to your site, your business or blog name now appears here. Branding, baby, branding!
- Experience – Like the Summary section described earlier, this is the place where your work experience gets to stand out. Critical: Use key terms here. You’ll be prompted by LinkedIn for the basic titles and dates of these current and past positions, and be sure to include honors or awards, too, but key terms matter here!
- Endorsements – We’ve talked about these in the past, but the acceptance of LinkedIn endorsements has changed. They’re not as good as getting Recommendations, but they are helpful in giving others a peer-reviewed idea of what you do well. So, get some. Ask people you have worked with, networked with, etc. to help build your endorsements.
- Recommendations – Even better than Endorsements, Recommendations go a long way to proving your professional validity. Be selective here. Endorsements are about skills. Recommendations are about your professional abilities and character. These are golden on a LinkedIn profile, so having Recommendations is very important. These should come from people who have actually seen you deliver with excellence on what you do!
8 LinkedIn Profile Extras
*All of these sections are good to complete if you can, but most people won’t judge you if you don’t have these extras covered, unlike the “must” items above. They might judge you if you leave those “must” items incomplete. #JustSayin’
For each of the sections below, LinkedIn will prompt you to add relevant information. Each of these will add to the power of new connections you can make on LinkedIn by looking for common connections, but not everyone has information to add. For instance, you may not want to include high school information. You’ll be prompted by LinkedIn to reconsider this from time to time, but you don’t have to add it if you don’t want to be more visible to possible high school connectors on LinkedIn.
- Educational History
- Work Samples
- Volunteer Experience
- Background Image (similar to Cover Photo on other sites)
Once your profile is up-to-date, don’t forget about
the importance of posting on LinkedIn!
There are definite best practices in making a great impression with social media, and then there are mistakes. Is your LinkedIn profile making a good impression or is it making a mistake? Tweet this
Some things fall into the personal preferences and optional categories, that’s true, but some things don’t. Don’t be a mistake on LinkedIn!
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