LinkedIn, launched in 2003 as a professional network with under 500 users, is now connecting over 70 million people in 200 countries and territories. Initially associated with the popular MySpace, but for adults, users quickly learned that this platform was a whole lot more. It was opportunity. Opportunity to showcase your knowledge and experience to connect with other professionals to further your career. As an online resume of sorts, LinkedIn profiles built authority through not only being shared on their site but as a high ranking personal brand throughout the web.
LinkedIn has grown from that a job seeker billboard to a connection based referral source. The days of only connecting with friends, family, previous co-workers are gone and connecting with people we need to know to jump start our career or build a business have stepped in. But, there are still many who are neglecting their LinkedIn profiles and focusing on the the flashier, sexier and fast paced platforms like Twitter and Facebook. I love Twitter and with over 18,000 tweets I suppose I should but, I am here to let you in on a little secret: neglecting LinkedIn and its offerings is simply handing over business and job opportunities to someone else
If it has been a while since you last visited and read over your profile LinkedIn, you are not alone. As we start the new year, now is the right time to take the time to go over and see what others are seeing. Is your information really representative of what you do? Is it filled with 2010 buzz words that really should be banned? Creating and maintaining an authoritative presence, starts with your profile. The more robust your profile as well as the more you engage and interact, the more opportunities will be presented. There are some basics to consider before jumping into connecting. Before you connect with people, ensuring that your profile is up to date and inviting is necessary.
1. Profile Photo. A photo of you to associate with the name. This is not a photo of your children (as adorable as they are), your pet, you wife/husband, your company logo. We hear this over and over but yet we still see LinkedIn profile photos with a pet, child, one that is out of date or even profiles with NO photo at all. LinkedIn profile photos should be recent and what you look like today and not 10 years ago. Recommended photos that are 6 months old or less. A photo of you as people do business with, interact with and connect with other people. To upload a photo, click settings and Profile photo.
2. Vanity URL. A vanity URL maximizes your chance of being found and increases connections and opportunities. Since their inception in 2007, most have claimed their URL (www.linkedin.com/in/yourname and not www.linkedin.com/pub/your-name/series-of-numbers-and-characters) however if it has been that long since your last visit to LinkedIn or if something has changed, you can change your current URL by clicking on Edit Public Profile Settings on the right or edit next to the Public Profile in your blue profile box.
3. Headline. We have become accustomed to search via search engines so this is a natural place to start on LinkedIn. When we start our search, we think of core keywords that we would associate with the individual(s) that we are trying to connect with. This is of course if you do not have their name. The results are matched to the keywords in the the headline as well as the summary.
a. What do you do? Start here and jot down terms as they relate to what your current position is. This will more than likely not be your headline however it is a starting point to see how you define yourself.
b. What do you have to offer? If you are an employee of a big company, what makes you irreplaceable? Why should a consultant connect with you? What do you have to offer to a connection other than a wave?
EX: Gardening Consultant. Finding the right vegetables to plant for your soil & climate.
c. What makes you unique? Thinking in these terms you are identifying what differentiates you from the rest of the field and why it is worth noting.
EX: Social Media Consulting. Free profile analysis to leverage brand and maximize your exposure.
d. What value do you bring? Great you are a CEO but what does that mean to me? How does you being a CEO relate to where you would fit into my network?
EX: Forging business relationships internationally; supply chain management consulting.
e. What problem to you solve? A descriptive problem solving headline is being there before they know they have a problem and when in panic and need the problem solved. We know that when we need something, we need it done right away and being able to be there already is the perfect position.
EX: Blog Consultant. Advising & educating new bloggers how to write and promote a blog to build an online community and generate sales.
4. Email Settings. Invitations and opportunity preferences sent to your LinkedIn can be forwarded to an email that you designate as your primary email by clicking settings, personal information and then email addresses. Once you have designated the email return to settings, email notifications, contact settings you opt in to receive notifications.
5. Profile and Status Updates. In settings, allow significant profile and status updates to be sent to your connections so they are notified of such changes. Update your status frequently by sharing new articles, events, happenings for your company or yourself.
6. Public Profile. Your profile is not only searchable on LinkedIn but also on the search engines. LinkedIn profiles generally rank in the top 5 when a search is performed for your name. To set your profile to public and have it indexed, click on Settings, Public Profile and select Full View Recommended. You can select which items are viewable by the public from the menu list.
These are the basics to get you started reacquainting yourself with LinkedIn and creating a profile that users want to connect with. Next we will delve into the meat of your profile, the summary.
photo credit: Mario Sundar