But…who isn’t? (Seriously, my retired 89 year-old grandfather just sent me an invite.)
If you are job hunting, looking to build your client base, or simply networking, LinkedIn is the place to be. It is also the place to see and be seen; are you putting your best foot forward with your LinkedIn profile?
Your LinkedIn profile serves as your page in the networking world – be sure to make the most of it. Aside from filling in the basic requested information – photo, education, job history (you’ve filled those out, right?) there are many other elements that can help you and your page stand out.
Headline – LinkedIn gives all users an opportunity to sell themselves beyond their job title. One of my LinkedIn connections, Naomi Elbinger, wrote a fabulous blog post on this. Her post inspired me to use the headline space to really promote myself and my business. My headline went from “Director, Virtual Assistant Israel” to “Director, Virtual Assistant Israel – Your #1 Resource for American, College Educated Virtual Assistants”. Which do you think brings me more clients?
With the headline, LinkedIn is giving you a free billboard to describe and promote who you are and what you offer; read Naomi’s tips on how to use it to the fullest!
Keywords – What are the keywords associated with your business? Are you a social media strategist, enterprise software entrepreneur, weather forecaster? You know your field well and you know the keywords associated with it. If you don’t (Houston, we have a problem) search for your field on LinkedIn and see how your competitors are selling themselves and what keywords they are using. Alternatively, talk to your SEO resource and find out which keywords you’re optimizing for on your website. Once you have identified the right keywords, use them liberally! They should be in your headline, summary and in the information you provide about your previous positions. Individuals searching for people in your field are likely searching via keywords. Ensure that you appear at the top of the search results by frequently employing your keywords.
Summary – What is this and why do you need it? Isn’t your whole LinkedIn page a summary of what you do? Yes, it is, but the summary section is an opportunity to frame your experiences to the reader. You have likely held a few jobs in the past, and likely included those in your LinkedIn profile, along with a bullet or two about what you did. But bullets don’t tell the whole story – only you can do that, in the summary. A good summary is illustrative and to the point. Your opening sentence should explain who you are and what you do in a less sales-y way then your headline. Mine is “Experienced business development, strategy and marketing consultant.” The summary should then go on to address your past experience, highlight an accomplishment or two and paint an overall picture for the reader of what you bring to the table. Keep it succinct and light – this is not a cover letter, but rather, your elevator pitch.
Experience – Now that you’ve gotten attention (and appeared first in your potential client’s results list) with an eye catching headline and framed experience in your summary, it’s time to highlight some of your key responsibilities and achievements in the experience section. Do not copy and paste your resume. Rather, select the best of the best from each of your prior positions. Use bullets to make things clear and brief. Three bullets per position is ideal, anything more than 5 is overkill. You want to highlight your skills and experience while keeping the reader engaged and his eye moving around the page. If you make things too dense he will likely close the page before adding you as a connection. Include just enough to make it interesting, and hopefully he will click that connect button, effectively reaching out to you to learn more!
Recommendations – How better to showcase your skills and ability to work well with others than a top notch recommendation? If you don’t have any recommendations, apply the knowledge you learned in pre-school: “The best way to get, is to give!” Write some unprompted recommendations for current and former colleagues. Not only will you make their day, but you will have an opening to ask them to return the favor.