LinkedIn is an important social network for professionals, business owners and job seekers alike. It can help introduce us to new people, reconnect us with ones we may have lost touch with and bring new business opportunities (clients) our way. LinkedIn can play a valuable role in helping to build our online reputation, brand awareness, influence and network of connections.
But in order for this to happen, we need to invest time into LinkedIn. And one of the first places to start is to ensure we have at least completed our personal profile. Often we hear "you need to be on LinkedIn" and so we sign up for an account. However, once we have "joined" the network not much more seems to happen. Often because we're not sure where to start.
The following six areas represent a few of the important basics when getting started with setting up your LinkedIn profile.
When you sign up for LinkedIn your assigned public profile URL will look something like this: linkedin.com/pub/johndoe/40/263/205 (Try putting THAT on a business card!)
Adding your assigned LinkedIn profile URL to your business card, email signature, your social networking sites and any marketing material is difficult, without your own distinct (aka vanity) URL. The URL provided by LinkedIn is too long and complicated, making it virtually impossible to remember or share with others, other than through a hyperlink.
Fortunately, LinkedIn allows you to customize your public profile URL to one that works better for you. Let's face it linkedin.com/in/JohnDoe will look a lot better on your business card and other promotional material than linkedin.com/pub/johndoe/40/263/205
There are a couple of ways to create your distinct public profile URL. Here's one way:
If your first name choice isn't available you'll need to consider other options like a middle initial, a middle name, etc.
A picture is an important part of establishing your online presence. It is very often provides the first impression people will have, especially for those who have never met you face-to-face.
If you do not have a photo on your LinkedIn profile, or if it is poor quality, people may not dig any further to find out the more important stuff about you (like whether they'd like to do business with you!) Your photo will add or detract from your perceived credibility.
Your job title is the default for Your Professional Headline. Instead, change it to something that showcases your expertise clearly and specifically. You have 120 characters to let people know what you do, what you really do! Don't miss this opportunity!!
If you are an Architect and only list this title along with a bunch of letters after your name, will I know what your specialty is? Do you design houses, commercial buildings, or multi-family complexes?
Think about the audience you want to attract, use keywords that your customers are using to search for your type of business and write a headline that speaks to this group.
Adding a bit more detail to your professional headline can separate you from the pack and make it easier for those searching for your services to find you.
Make it easy for people to find out more about you by including links to your website and social networks.
LinkedIn allows you to add your Twitter username plus three other websites to your public profile. You could use your website, your blog, your Facebook Page, your Google+ profile or any three website addresses you choose.
Follow these steps to add these links:
Once you've clicked on the link, the contact info area will open up to allow you to add your Twitter username and the other three websites you would like to show on your public profile. You're limited to three so choose wisely.
Your LinkedIn Background Summary introduces people to who you are and your current role, once they've seen your photo and your professional headline. It's a place where you can go into a bit more detail about who you are, what you do and why you do it.
Provide enough information that people will get a sense of who you are but not so much that they will only read it part way through.
Use keywords as these are the words people are using to search for you, but don't go overboard. Remember, you're writing for people not search engines.
There are many more ways to enhance your LinkedIn profile. These are a few of the areas that tend to 'fall through the cracks' when people are building their LinkedIn profile. Ultimately, it's important that your profile is as complete as possible.
Recommendations: The 'Privacy & Settings' area of LinkedIn is where you invite recommendations as well as where you manage recommendations you receive and give.
We can say anything we like about ourselves but when other people speak highly of us and are willing to put their recommendations in their own words this, obviously, has much more impact.
LinkedIn recommendations added to your profile must come from the person making the recommendation. They can’t be added by you in any other way and this adds even more weight to them.
Turn on/off your activity broadcasts: The default for this is 'on' and this means that every change you make to your profile shows up in your news feed, and the news feed of those you are connected with (assuming their settings allow for this).
Thus, every time you change any aspect of your profile, your LinkedIn world will be alerted. I have this turned off as when I make changes I may tweak several areas at one time and I don't necessarily want my network notified of these minor 'house keeping' type changes.
Modify the frequency and types of emails and notifications you receive from LinkedIn: These settings can be adjusted from the Communications panel in the Account & Settings area.
Follow these steps to access the 'Account & Settings' area:
Completing the six areas above, along with more obvious areas like your experience and education, will go a long way towards setting up your profile on LinkedIn. The more complete your profile, the more opportunity for it to present a good impression of you and your brand. And, the better chance of making a good first-impression with those who don't know you and those you're hoping to reach.