To some, LinkedIn seems like an unnecessary side job. Why spend all that time developing an online profile when you’ve already got a resume?
There are lots of reasons (all relating to building your personal brand), and I don’t have space here for them all. But, let me give you few of the most important reasons of why you need to keep up on your LinkedIn Profile.
Your optimized LinkedIn Profile …
… Demonstrates professionalism! A well-organized LinkedIn profile shows potential employers that you are serious about your career. By taking the time to thoughtfully and carefully develop your profile, it shows not only that you are “keeping up with the times” but also that you’re ahead of the game, willing to do what it takes.
… Creates consistency! If you are using LinkedIn, it had better reflect the core elements of your consistent personal branding message. Sure, the resume does this as well, but consistency is exactly the point! By giving off the same idea across mediums, you are proving to potential employers that you are who you say you are. You’ve got to portray a steady image of yourself and validate to employers that this image is accurate.
… Helps you get discovered! Potential employers often “google” prospective candidates. A well-optimized LinkedIn profile is specially designed to stand out and to jump to the top of google searches. This makes your professional image prominent online. Not only does this mean that your “personal brand” is easier to discover, but it also means that it will displace any bad or irrelevant things that come up in your search.
… Connects you with new job opportunities! Like it or not, employers and recruiters use LinkedIn all the time to find fitting candidates and to weed out bad ones. LinkedIn has developed some incredible software to help recruiters find good talent. But, if you are not using LinkedIn carefully and correctly, you may not be included in the recruitment searches; or, just as bad, you could be found and then eliminated because your profile does nothing to impress!
… Builds relationships! LinkedIn is an easy way to connect with professionals all over the globe. If you are dying to land that one specific job, a professional and optimized LinkedIn profile allows access to other professionals and lets you introduce yourself to key people in your field. Even if you don’t know the person you are targeting directly, you can use its special features to figure out who you know that knows your target relationship, and then you can simply ask to get introduced!
Look, I get it. You probably think that LinkedIn is a small blip on the career radar. But I have seen several highly qualified candidates lose big opportunities because they did not take advantage of the small things. In this job market, you can’t afford to miss anything, even seemingly unimportant aspects like your LinkedIn brand. What’s my point? LinkedIn is not just relevant; it’s essential.
The following 13 steps will start you off on building a highly-effective and attention-grabbing LinkedIn Profile.
1. CUSTOMIZE YOUR LINKEDIN URL.
LinkedIn allows you to claim a custom URL. Instead of using a sloppy URL like https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=62738668, stand out by customizing it with your own custom URL like www.linkedin.com/in/willwegert.
2. USE A HIGH-QUALITY CIRCULAR PNG PHOTO
A head and shoulders photo is usually best here — something professional yet casual can suggest to viewers that you are easy to relate to and a great person to know. If you know how to do it, we also suggest that you use a circular PNG instead of a square JPEG file like everyone else. Since most people don’t know how to do this, it helps you visually stand out from the crowd. For those that are stumped on how to make a circular PNG, check out our LinkedIn Profile Rewrite, a service we provide that includes a circular PNG image for every LinkedIn client.
3. COMPLETE THE BASIC INFORMATION SECTION
One of the easiest ways for hiring managers and recruiters to be able to tell that you have not really invested in your LinkedIn profile is that you have an incomplete “Basic Information” section. This information is located just under the “Header Section” of your LinkedIn profile and should be completed as thoroughly as you can. The more you include the more optimized your profile will be.
4. WRITE A KICK-BUTT PROFESSIONAL HEADLINE
While it’s only a few words, it may be the most important words on your whole profile. By carefully deciding the most succinct way to describe yourself, you can catch the viewers’ attention. If you mess this up, you could turn them away faster than you can say “I’m stuck in a job I hate.” This section shows up directly below your name on your profile, and it holds the vital “first-impression” because it is the first thing readers see after they read your name.
5. UPLOAD SOME ATTENTION-GRABBING IMAGES IN YOUR SUMMARY
If you are looking to use your personal summary effectively, we suggest that you don’t just splat out a bunch more info about your jobs, experience, or education. Instead we suggest that you show readers in a visually compelling way what you have to offer. You can, of course, add some succinct info in your call-to-action section, but you shouldn’t stop there! Add some pictures of you at work “in action,” or maybe post some images that highlight the great things that others have said about you. Whatever you decide, make sure the info is not just in text form but in image form too. This will help your profile stand out from the crowd.
6. TAG COMPANIES IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE SECTION
If you want to make your profile look extra professional, find the companies you’ve worked for on LinkedIn, and be sure to tag the companies in each of your respective job listings so that the logo will also appear on your profile. This is a great way to make it look like you know what you are doing.
7. CLEAN UP YOUR SKILLS AND ENDORSEMENTS
If you’ve used LinkedIn for any amount of time, you know that your connections will have the opportunity to endorse you for skills you selected or recommend new skills to add. While you can include up to 40 skills, we highly recommend that you select at least 10 and no more than 14 skills in this section of your profile. Nothing looks worse than a cluttered skills section with all sorts of irrelevant skills with 0, 1, or maybe 2 endorsements (really anything less than 10 endorsements looks bad). By carefully selecting the right skills for you and then weeding out the others, you take control of your “personal brand” and solidify the readers’ perceptions of your skills.
8. FIND THE MAGICAL“99”
A real breakthrough on your LinkedIn profile happens when each of your skills reaches 100 endorsements. This helps readers understand the legitimacy of your skills. Why? At this point, the number of endorsements simply shows up as “99+.” Beyond that, no one can easily see the difference. If you aim to impress, get each of your endorsements to 99+.
9. GET SOME GOOD RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendations are a core facet of your LinkedIn profile. Good recommendations separate “the best” from “the rest.” Why is this so important? When you say something about yourself, it doesn’t hold nearly as much clout as when someone else says the same thing about you. It adds needed credibility and trust to your profile as a whole – and it is essential that you make sure that you have honest, affirmative recommendations on your profile. It’s super easy to do; just ask a few of your best clients, peers, or bosses who will most often be happy to provide it.
10. COLLECT 500 CONNECTIONS
Connections are the backbone of your LinkedIn profile. Connections are like Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or Google+ followers. Without building a solid base of connections, your LinkedIn profile, no matter how good it may be, is practically useless. A major milestone to pursue is 501 connections. Why? Because like the endorsements section, when you reach this point, LinkedIn simply shows your number of connections as 500+. This helps readers to see that you are invested in using LinkedIn, and they are more likely to reach out to you for advice or trust your expertise.
11. EXPAND YOUR REACH WITH GROUPS
To fully take advantage of LinkedIn groups, you are permitted to join up to 50 groups. We suggest that you join 50 top groups that relate to you and then choose 2-5 to get heavily involved with as you build your perceived value and expertise. This is an excellent way to expand your reach—one we highly suggest you get involved in. To find fitting groups, simply use the search function to search for industry keywords or group titles.
12. FOLLOW RELEVANT COMPANIES
You can follow companies on LinkedIn. This is similar to liking a page on Facebook. We suggest that you not only follow at least 20 companies in your industry, but we also suggest that you follow 20 or more companies that you might be inspired by. This helps your profile appear complete and allows you to stay in the loop on what is going on inside your industry and around the globe.
13. INCORPORATE CALLS TO ACTION
Having a visually impressive LinkedIn Profile is great, and it can do a lot for you in your job search. But if you really want to stand out, you can’t stop there. When someone is reading through your profile, you should incorporate specific, targeted requests that the reader take action (i.e. the “call to action”). For example, on my personal LinkedIn page under my description for my work at Cold Collar, I don’t just describe what we do. I encourage readers to take action with a line that appears as follows: “To find out more visit www.coldcollar.com.”
For you, maybe you could say something like, “To contact me about a job opportunity, email me at JaneDoe@gmail.com.” Or, maybe you could use, “To learn more about the high level of service I provide, send me a message and ask for some testimonials”. Whatever you decide, it is important that you determine the action you want to readers to take and specifically request they do it.
AHHHH, I WANT MORE!
Did those tips leave you aching for more? If so we’ve got a team of professionals that can help you take advantage of your own LinkedIn profile. Our Professional LinkedIn Profile Rewrite is one a kind, so be sure to check it out! Or, if you are not feeling quite that ambitious yet, consider following Cold Collar on LinkedIn – or connecting with me personally at https://www.linkedin.com/in/willwegert). I’m always open for new connections; and I am constantly sharing free tips, tricks, and ideas on how you can continually build your personal brand. Looking forward to connecting!