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How to Keep Your LinkedIn Profile From Hurting Your Image

Here is the second article in the Learning LinkedIn series that we kicked off last week with the article, Is LinkedIn Answers Worth the Investment for B2B Professionals. This week we continue with a chat about the profile, which is the key to protecting your online reputation on LinkedIn.

With 100 million members, many of whom are executives from Fortune 500 companies, it is hard to overlook the impact that LinkedIn is having on the professional’s career.  How many connection invitations have you received lately?  No doubt, you have received enough of them to catch your attention.  If you are not using LinkedIn for personal and business branding, have you been feeling as if you might be missing something?  It is possible that you are missing more than you know.

Can an incomplete LinkedIn profile hurt me in business? 

Short answer:  yes.  In the same way that an incomplete or amateur website says something about you or your business so does an incomplete profile. Nowadays, people ask Google for answers long before they phone a friend. Google indexes LinkedIn profiles.  When yours comes up in response to an online search, wouldn’t you want it to be a link that people will actually click on and get the answers they are looking for. When an incomplete profile starts to affect your business or personal brand then it is time to take corrective actions.

What corrective actions should I take to improve my LinkedIn profile?

Photo and Headline:  Make sure you have one.  Nothing is more disappointing than searching for someone only to find that there is no photo to help identify if you have the right person.  The photo helps to add a human element to your business.  Take the best headshot you can.  There should be nothing in the background or any other people in the picture.  Save that one for Facebook.  The headline should be descriptive.  Avoid putting only your job title or company name as this does nothing to explain why a person should open your profile.  Try to use your best keywords.

 Good LinkedIn profile headshot and headline

 Status updates:  This is one simple way to keep fresh content coming.  Any updates or linked conversations from Twitter show up underneath your headline.  Keep your conversation appropriate for business, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t let your personality show.  If you wouldn’t talk about a subject at the water cooler at work then don’t on LinkedIn.  With that said, if anyone wants to talk about Design Star, I’m available…just saying.

 

Summary Section:  Here is a place where you can tell people what you really do and why you are unique.  The description gives details to help prospective clients see that you can solve their business problems.

LinkedIn Summary Section

Recommendations:  This is one of the most important areas of the profile. Recommendations are the best form of word of mouth marketing.  Make an effort to ask for a recommendation for every appropriate situation.  For example, did your boss just give you a pat on the back and thank you for your service?  Then send a request for a recommendation for that specific action.  Long ago, a note added to your personnel file was the norm.  It’s the same concept in digital, sharable format. The recommendation of others is a powerful tool that gives you credibility.

Websites:  Where else do you have a presence online?  LinkedIn provides three opportunities for you to publish them.  Give your links a name other than Company Website.  Try using a question like, Need A New Home?.    Or, put the name of your blog like, Talking Social Today.

OK, I’ve done all of the above, now what?

That’s a common question.  Here are 10 ways to keep your profile exciting and keep your connections returning for more.

  • Add your blog feed
  • Publish your events
  • Embed a video or slideshow
  • Email your profile to a prospective client
  • Stream your Fan Page and Twitter accounts
  • Print your profile out and use it like a brochure
  • Use your profile URL on all your printed materials
  • Share your upcoming trips so colleagues can find you
  • Collect data from your connections by creating a poll
  • Collaborate on work projects by creating a team space or huddle

Your LinkedIn profile can enhance or detract from your online presence.  When it detracts, you run the risk of looking unprofessional or worst than that being invisible.  Either of these can hurt you in business.

Do you have an exciting LinkedIn profile?  We’d love to see it in action.  Post your profile URL in the comment section below.

Join The Conversation

  • Aug 19 Posted 5 years ago Chris Kulbaba

    What a potential employer or a potential network contact is looking for, is the ability to relate to an actual person.  Making your profile summary statement sound like you are a celebrity is more of an ego shout out then adding any values are benefits to a potential connection, and the reccomendations are also another key feature.  Social media is constructed to facilitate conversational marketing, and I have never enjoyed being a part of any conversation that was one sided.  

    Think of yourself at a cocktail party, and what might you say to somebody who seems interested to get to know you more.  What they are looking for that makes sense to them is the features that you bring to the table and the benefits that are related to those features.  For example, you bought your car because it is good on gas - and that is a feature.  The benefit to you is that you do not spend as much money so there is an economy to buying that particular car.  That is the benefit that you are seeking, and if the benefit was to go fast you might want to look at a different feature of the car.  The most important thing you can do to increase the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile is to seek ways to add value to other people, rather than just telling them all about you.

     

    When writing a reccomendation that is also a key point - describe the features that person brought, and the benefits you experienced.  It does nto ahve to be "War and Peace" but it should be complete with a beginning, a middle, and an end.  

    For me, a reference to explain LinkedIn is to think of it as a tree, and the more you nourish and feed it, the stronger and bigger it grows.  The shadow this three throws is your reputation. 

  • LoriJ_VA's picture
    Aug 10 Posted 5 years ago LoriJ_VA

    Your profile is looking good!  I think your headshot and summary are right on target.  You immediately put a human face on your company that is approachable.

    And, thanks so much for sharing this article.  I found it on your blog and twitter through your LI profile!  High five!

  • Aug 6 Posted 5 years ago Adriane (not verified)

    Thank you Lori for the great article and tips. I completely agree that recommendations are one of the most important areas of your profile. In my industry, performance is King, it is the ultimate. When I complete a successful project, I always ask for a recommendation. It helps build your company’s brand.

    Lori, I actually enhanced my profile because of your article.  I also shared your article with my LinkedIn connections.

    My LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/adriane-sanford/13/b1a/646

  • makinenn's picture
    Aug 4 Posted 5 years ago makinenn

    Thanks Lori, I really enjoyed this useful post. The people have to learn how social media plataforms are changing the business world!

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/mariafernandafigueroa

  • Aug 4 Posted 5 years ago Twittarr Pirate (not verified)

    Thank you very much for this article and for everyone who posted a link to their LinkedIn profiles.  This is one of the social media networks that has been very hard for me to get excited about.  I love Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr as they are very visual mediums.  LinkedIn so far to me has just seemed to me to be a listing of bland text-only c.v.s, as if having a personality isn't "professional."

    I do have separate personal and professional Twitter accounts or my poor followers would be spammed with talk of movies, music and Twilight OR how to blog and maximize social media on the other hand.  Admittedly, no one escapes my love for pirates but that is part of my brand.

    I will definitely take another look at the potential of LinkedIn.

  • Aug 4 Posted 5 years ago Martha Lipson (not verified)

    Great article Lori, I am really just getting started trying to promote my business using the Social Media platform, I signed up with LinkedIn but never completed my profile. Your article has shown me the importance of completing my profile and getting involved with groups. I know you encourge video and I know that they are very big now for promoting any business. However, I'm just not ready to venture into the videos right now, but I'm sure to get there eventually. Thanks again for the wonderful post.

  • ChristineHueber's picture
    Aug 3 Posted 5 years ago ChristineHueber

    And my profile is:  http://LinkedIn.com/in/ChristineHueber ... thanks!

  • ChristineHueber's picture
    Aug 3 Posted 5 years ago ChristineHueber

    Thanks for featuring my profile, Lori!

    LinkedIn is a fabulous tool to grow your business and creating an effective profile and presence there is key.

    Will share your excellent article with my online audience.

     

    Best,

    Christine Hueber

  • LoriJ_VA's picture
    Aug 2 Posted 5 years ago LoriJ_VA

    Yes, starting a group is a great idea.  Takes time to manage it but could be worth the trouble when you met new people and get involved with new projects. 

  • LoriJ_VA's picture
    Aug 2 Posted 5 years ago LoriJ_VA

    I kinda lucked out on finding Christine's profile after I answered one of her LI questions.

    Your profile summary is a great one as well.  It reminds me that I have to update mine.  LOL!  Alas, the cobbler's children have no shoes.

     

  • LoriJ_VA's picture
    Aug 2 Posted 5 years ago LoriJ_VA

    That is important.  When I'm active in my groups I really feel like I have friends and associates on LI.  Do you find that it is hard to find groups that are pure (no self promo, etc) discussion?  That's the only annoying thing for me.  Otherwise, I enjoy good discussons and always learn something new.

  • LoriJ_VA's picture
    Aug 2 Posted 5 years ago LoriJ_VA

    That's a good point. Personally, I do use the Twitter app to let my tweets show up on my LI newsfeed.  And I have taken some hits from a few others who think I should quit talking about other stuff on LI (example- American Idol).  The only thing I really watch is the retweets.  If it has bad language or something I won't retweet because I know this will show up on my LI newsfeed.

    And I totally agree with you that a person must bring value to the LI interface.  Maybe an active LI newsfeed can make up for the tweets being there.

  • Aug 1 Posted 5 years ago Bob Taylor (not verified)

    The only thing I would add to your great post is that people should refrain from aggregating their Twitter posts to LinkedIn. These are separate and distinct audiences. Be original in your posts on each platform. Aggregating shows to me that you do not value LinkedIn enough to spend time there. Aggregation=bad.

  • Aug 1 Posted 5 years ago Annie Sisk (not verified)

    Very cool stuff. I'd also add this: the benefit of joining and/or starting LinkedIn groups? Can NOT be overstated.

  • Aug 1 Posted 5 years ago Dinesh Ramkrishna (not verified)

    Hello Lori:

     

    Nice to see Christine profile as an example for best practice

    my public profile URL is

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/dineshprofile

     

    Regards,

    -Dinesh

  • Jul 31 Posted 5 years ago Ugonna Wachuku (not verified)

    Dear Lori:

    Thank you so much for this insightful piece. My LinkedIn profile is:

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/ugonnawachuku 

    With very good wishes:

    Ugonna

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/ugonnawachuku 

     

  • Jul 31 Posted 5 years ago tmiechiels

    Lori, I recently received a calling to help marketplace Christians share their faith story on video and incorporate it in their LinkedIn profile.  Here's an example:
    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/david-montgomery/9/663/646

    We've started a ministry called The 3:15 Project.  It's an effective way to not only let people know who you are, but why you are who you are.

  • Jul 30 Posted 5 years ago Bruce Bixler (not verified)

    I enjoyed the article, especially the areas highlighted by the last 10 bullet points.  A lot of LinkedIn users leave these areas out or dont know how to use the applications.  Here is my URL

    Thanks Again,

     

    Bruce Bixler

  • LoriJ_VA's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 5 years ago LoriJ_VA

    You said it Manny.  Making an impact is what we are trying to do.  We are living in a time when social media allows us to do that no matter whether it is for our professional career or our personal community.  We can tell our own story.

  • LoriJ_VA's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 5 years ago LoriJ_VA

    I see your point about recommendations and how they could be a bit skewed.  My opinion is that it still makes sense to get them because word of mouth does carry weight. I hate to even try a new restaurant unless somebody tells me what they think.  It helps me make up my mind.  So perhaps we should view the recommendations as just one piece of helping the employer make up their mind about trying out a new candidate. 

    Plus, the process to get a recommendation is secure meaining I can't go onto my LI profile and write what somebody said about me.  It has to come from the person.  I feel that the majority of the time when I am asked to write a recommendation I will not write one for someone who I didn't believe in at all.  Since life is not a straight line I think it is fair to assume that the good recommendations comes in on the high wave of someone's appeal and not so much when they are messing up.  But that's ok.  The very fact that somebody took the time to go onto LI, think of what to say, and attach their name to it for all to see is a good thing.  I'm more prone to think what's wrong with this candidate if they can't get one person to say something nice about them. 

    But with LI you do have the opportunity through In-Mail to contact a person who gave a recommendation to get further feedback if the position warranted it.  When you reach a good boss who truly thought the person did well overall they might be willing to expand upon that idea for you.  As you mentioned, the job of vetting a potential candidate doesn't stop with just reviewing the LI recommendations.  You have to find out if their work can be seen.  Online is the best way to do that because of social media.  When you can follow a person around a bit, for example, if you are hiring a technology director, you can see if he sounds experienced by the what he talks on a blog or twitter.  Even if the person doesn't blog, do they share their expertise on forums such as LI answers.  With social media tools you might be able to get a fuller picture.

    The way I look at hiring is this:  It always an on-going project.  You can do the best vetting process in the world and find the best person in the world.  You could spend months getting them fully incorporated into the company and doing well.  Then they could get hit by a mack truck and not come back to work ever again.  So in my humble opinion we should do our best to hire the person who has demonstrated, in a variety of ways, that they could do a good job and try not to worry about the few that got under the wire.  There's no perfect hire just people who are willing to make changes and grow when it will benefit themselves and the company.  Sometimes we get the good, sometimes we get the bad, but when we get the ugly get that policy manual out and get to cleaning house.

  • Jul 30 Posted 5 years ago J. Lilly (not verified)

    The only other thing I would add to this great list is - START A GROUP. Find a very specific niche in your industry and exploit the heck out of it. I'm always open to new Linkedin connections because I feel I can trust your résumé on Linkedin more than I can rely on ones Facebook shenanigans. I'm making the most of my free Linkedin account and look forward to implementing a lot more video in the coming months. It seems video is the next frontier ...

  • Jul 30 Posted 5 years ago Manny (not verified)

    Hi Lori,

    Great post with great points! Keeping an updated/relevant online presence can go a long way in helping professionals provide the world with a doorway into who they are, what they're about, and how they can and plan on making an impact.

     

    My LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ortegamanuel

     

    -Manny

  • amitmvn's picture
    Jul 30 Posted 5 years ago amitmvn

    Great Article Lori, i would like to share some perspective from C level perspective.

    -Recommendations- many times i personally dont believe in what people say as 1/2 the time many people befriend bosses to write good feedback, geared towards what position they are seeking. We did some investigation and realized many people do this. Infact in some situations we saw thanks to relation with bosses that the juniors requested a great feedback and being good boss they didnt mind. How do you ensure this can be avoided?

    I am personally big fan of actions speak louder than words, so your points on sharing blogs, web sites is a great one, if someone says as a example i build web sites and has no web sites links he/she did but great recommendations and picture, i would be very sceptical personally.

     

    I wish there was a way in linked in to see good/bad/ugly all as thats hardest thing to find about a candidate until they start working for you..so if you have any tips on that please do share

     

    Good write once again..cheers Amit

  • Jul 30 Posted 5 years ago Mic (not verified)

    Great tips and article. I train people on LinkedIn profiles and explain that we are all personal brands now and their LinkedIn is a part of that brand....for better or worse. You can see my profile at www.LinkedIn.com/in/micjohnson.

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