Networking is something you do, not something you sit back and wait for.
IF YOU’RE BUILDING a career or are on-mission to impact professionals all over the world…
You need to be on LinkedIn.
Now reaching 800 million users, LinkedIn is where professionals hang out. It’s not solely a place for people looking for jobs (it hasn’t been that in years).
It’s THE place where professionals network, discover career opportunities, find encouragement, exchange ideas, share practical tips, hone skills, locate new hires, and develop real relationships. It’s often the first place recruiters look to learn more about you. So, you need to be ready.
But, simply signing up for an account – and then sitting back to wait for the networking to happen – doesn’t work.
You have to optimize your profile to earn the maximum results.
On LinkedIn, you’re building your personal brand. It’s a living and breathing platform that allows you to showcase your experience, expertise, and value to the world.
Step 1 is optimizing your personal profile. Let’s get started!
1. Customize Your Profile URL
Customize your LinkedIn URL. Which of these looks more professional – “linkedin.com/in/johnsmith” or “linkedin.com/in/john-smith-84379921”? Because your URL should be proudly displayed in your email signature, your resume, and all of your social profiles, it’s important to make it look as professional as possible.
To update your URL, click on “Me” below your profile picture in the top right corner of the navigation bar. Then click the View Profile button. Click “Edit public profile and URL”. Finally, click the pencil icon under “Edit your custom URL” and change it to your preferred URL. If you have a common name, add a target keyword or title.
2. Post a Professional Headshot
LinkedIn’s atmosphere and vibe are unique among other platforms, so you want to avoid using photos that don’t accurately represent your professional life. If you wouldn’t want your picture to be displayed in public at a large networking event or in a magazine, don’t use it for your LinkedIn profile! If you don’t have one, get a professional headshot. Avoid super-casual photos, cropped group photos, or photos that are more than 5 years old. Your profile photo is a key component of your brand – so make it one that you’re proud of.
3. Add an Impactful Background Photo
Your background photo is prime real estate to show who you are and how you help your target audience. It’s the perfect place to include a short tagline and/or services that you provide. A strong, visually appealing header can be easily designed in Canva for free. Be sure to leverage this space – your profile will look incomplete without it and you may miss out on some beneficial connections.
4. Write a Clear, Value-Based Headline
This should be more than your current job title. Your headline is a key branding opportunity where you’ll share whom you help and how you help them. Spend some time to refine this to clearly communicate your value. Include vital, relevant keywords that will enable recruiters and peers to easily find you.
5. Tell Your Story in Your Summary
Your summary is where you’ll tell your story. Tell us why you do what you do, how you can solve our problems, and other interesting facts about yourself that will help us connect with you – professionally and personally. This is an autobiography, not a biography – so please don’t talk about yourself in the third person! Avoid cutting and pasting dry words from a resume. Your summary should be as alive as you are. And include keywords that you want to be found for.
6. Highlight Key Content in Your Feature Section
The Feature section is the perfect place to share videos, articles, special projects, posts, and more that show off your work and achievements. When you view your own profile, a personal menu bar will appear. Click the “Add profile section” button. Under “Recommended,” click “Add featured.” Click the + button to add content that you’d like to call special attention to on your profile.
7. Fill Out Each Job Title
When adding your work experience and job titles, be sure to include other relevant titles that are related to your role. If you performed project management duties, your title might look like: “Data Analyst | Project Management.” Adding one or more titles in brackets will more accurately reflect your position, as well as provide additional keywords that you can be found for.
8. Showcase Your Skills
Add all of the relevant skills to communicate your expertise and to perform better in search results. You can list up to 50 skills, so leverage as many as you can.
9. Share Your Education
Include your educational background. LinkedIn will automatically show you potential connections related to the institutions you attended. It’s a great way to stay in touch or reconnect with fellow alumni. Some incredible opportunities may develop.
10. Give and Receive Endorsements and Recommendations
These are powerful relationship-building tools. Giving endorsements of someone’s skills are quick and easy to provide, though they don’t carry the weight of recommendations. A recommendation is typically a short paragraph explaining why someone is excellent at their work. Find those that you know well enough, and surprise them by writing a short recommendation on their profile. You’ll feel great doing it. You’ll grow that relationship. You’ll enhance their profile. Plus, you may get a recommendation from them in return!
11. Be Proud of Your Awards
Don’t be shy about sharing your awards. It builds your credibility and shows your proactivity in pursuing excellence in your field.
12. List Your Licenses, Certifications, and Volunteer Work
Update your profile with the relevant licenses and certifications that you’ve earned. Continual learning is critical in every field. Updated credentials show that you’re on top of your game! Because people do business with those that they like and trust, adding your volunteer experience can build trust by showing others that you value giving back to your community.
Engage. Once you’ve brought your profile up to par, it’s time to grow your community – through consistent engagement.
By sharing content (industry tips, news, personal success/failure stories, etc.), liking, sharing, and commenting on others’ content, and adding connections, you’ll build your following, grow your personal brand, and discover new career opportunities.
Incorporate these tips today and start discovering the benefits that LinkedIn offers!