If you want to generate any meaningful value or traction from LinkedIn, it's critical that you start with an optimized profile.
An optimized profile communicates who you are and what you do in a clear, concise manner, and a key element of this is ensuring that you use the right keywords to help potential employers, business partners and prospective customers find you when they go looking on the site.
Many LinkedIn users fail to understand this key element - in this post, I'm going to outline why you need to utilize relevant keywords to optimize your LinkedIn profile, along with how to do it by using LinkedIn's own data.
LinkedIn = Google Search For Professionals
With more than 546 million members in 200 countries, LinkedIn is essentially the world's largest search engine for professionals.
And because the platform saves and indexes every piece of data you post and share on the site (from where you live to your job title and so on), it is easy to reverse-engineer a search in order to find someone on LinkedIn that you want to hire or do business with.
For example, if I need a business coach, I merely type the title "Business Coach" into the search box on LinkedIn and I'm greeted with thousands of business coaches from around the world who I can connect to and potentially hire.
Even more, LinkedIn enables me to filter my search results based on where those Business Coaches live, where they went to college and so on (note, LinkedIn recently updated this functionality on desktop, as highlighted in the above image).
How Would Someone "Find" You on LinkedIn?
This is the key note to keep in mind - first, an example: let's say you live in Minneapolis and you need a plumber to fix a broken sink. If you don't know one off the top of your head, you might take to Google and type in "Minneapolis Plumber" or "Plumber Services Minneapolis" to find a vendor or service provider.
The same applies on LinkedIn.
Hundreds of millions of professionals search the platform every single day for content, training and people to help them solve a problem or meet a need.
LinkedIn's internal Search Engine is the nexus for all of this activity, and whether or not you show up when someone searches for the product or service that you offer depends on how well you've set up your profile and utilized keywords.
The first step in doing things correctly is thinking like your prospect would - for example, if you're a business coach, would someone wanting your services type in a phrase like "Productivity Ninja" or "Leadership Guru?"
He or she would more likely type in "Business Coach" or "Business Coaching", right?
Too many professionals on LinkedIn are trying to be clever and cute instead of clear and concise with their profile pages and professional headlines.
This is a big mistake.
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, you need to make it simple for people to understand who you are (job title) and what it is you do (list of products or services).
Not only does this type of approach clear up any confusion with the audiences you serve (and the ways you serve them), but it'll also helps LinkedIn surface your profile when people are using certain search terms to find someone who does what you do.
How to Find the Right Keywords on LinkedIn
The best (and easiest) place to find out which keywords and search terms are most popular on LinkedIn is inside the "Skills" section of your profile.
To do this, go into your LinkedIn profile, find the "Skills" section and click on "Add a New Skill." Once you do this, you'll be able to start typing in skills you want to be known for, and as you type in certain words, LinkedIn (just like Google Search) will provide a drop-down menu of suggested keywords or search phrases related to the words you're typing.
That is a great indicator of which words or phrases are going to be most popular, and most often searched as it relates to your profession, job title or the services you offer.
Even more important, the more skills you list on your LinkedIn profile, the more likely you are to get "found" on the platform.
As per LinkedIn:
"Listing five or more skills on your LinkedIn Profile can lead to up to 17 times more profile views. This means the next time someone is searching for your particular skill set in graphic design or event planning, for example, you have a better shot of showing up in their results. Showcasing your skills can be the start of new conversations and opportunities."
Getting More Visible on LinkedIn
If you haven't already, spend some time not only polishing up your LinkedIn profile to be more clear and concise, but also adding in the right skills and keywords throughout. Include them in your LinkedIn headline, job titles and summary description areas.
Don't go overboard, and use keywords in the right context, and this will give you the best possible opportunity to get found more easily on the world's largest platform for professionals.