Why should I care for another social media profile, one would think. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn…wait, LinkedIn is different. Before you make that folly of categorizing LinkedIn with other social websites, let me tell you, all you professionals, freelancers, entrepreneurs, artists and even students, LinkedIn is not just a social network, it is your professional network; and it goes without saying, your LinkedIn profile contributes most to your online professional reputation. And in a world where everything is going digital, including businesses, having a strong impactful LinkedIn profile really matters.
Crafting a crisp, engaging and impressive LinkedIn profile is an art. While it isn’t your resume, it is your online profile that potential employers, recruiters and customers will judge you on. Remember, first impressions are often the last ones!
What is the most important aspect of my LinkedIn profile?
Honestly, everything. Buyers, potential employers and recruiters will avoid profiles that are incomplete, full of grammatical errors or lack a professional photograph. Well endorsed profiles with recommendations from clients certainly rank better.
With years of experience in branding and digital media, I have realised that a strong LinkedIn profile is your very own online brand. To strike a chord with the right audience, it is important to tell your story in a way the target audience would like to hear it, apart from highlighting your skills and what you offer above others.
To help you establish your personal brand, today, I will share 9 insights for a powerful LinkedIn profile that packs a punch. Lets start:
A professional photograph
According to LinkedIn, a profile with a photograph is 14 times more likely to be viewed than one without a face to the name. A professional, yet amicable, headshot is all you need to build your professional network rapidly.
However, LinkedIn has strict guidelines for photographs and floundering these guidelines over 3 times can have you blocked on LinkedIn. Remember, animals, group photos, vacation selfies may look good on your Facebook profile, but they are a strict no-no for LinkedIn.
Don your tailored formal wear, wear that friendly (yet not over-friendly) smile, and get a photo clicked for your profile. Why? Because that’s how you would attend a professional meeting or a sales event.
A short, apt but descriptive headline
Most experts would agree that your headline is one of the most important sections of your LinkedIn profile. Undeniably, because the headline is displayed next to your name everytime your name throws up in a search result.
Very generously, LinkedIn allows you 120 characters to hook the audience to read your profile further.
If you are into business development, you could use your job title and current organization as your headline. However, if you are always looking out for new and exciting opportunities like me, it is best to get creative and tell you story as succinctly as possible in 120 characters or less; focusing on your skills, experience and what sets you apart.
Personalize your LinkedIn URL
An easy to remember LinkedIn profile name can help you enhance your personal brand by providing a custom URL that can be added to your business card, email signature and other profiles.
I’d rather ask you: Don’t you think a custom address like https://www.linkedin.com/in/nigelquadros is far more easier to remember and find than something like https://www.linkedin.com/in/nigelquadros_80bbacc430?
Often I see experienced professionals fill up their experience on LinkedIn to the brim, but ignore the summary section. Don’t make that mistake. Upto 400 words, explaining crisply your key passions, experience, achievements and career goals, walking the reader smoothly through your story, bringing out the high points of your career and future aspirations, can ensure your profile is always on top of recruiter and client searches.
Pro tip: Since LinkedIn is not your resume, instead of simply jotting down your achievements, weave a story of your wins in a keyword rich format adopting a unique voice that connects with prospective clients.
Display your work history
LinkedIn searches are powered by keywords. So, don’t be shy of showcasing your work experience, optimizing it with industry specific keywords, describing each role you held and your achievements succinctly in a readable format (using bullet points is a good idea).
You may think that your experience section is overflowing, but that’s fine. Readers have the option to skim through your profile only if it lands up in their search – which can be ensured by using keyword rich text detailing your story.
Share your content
LinkedIn is the best place to share your knowledge and learn more. To supplement your profile and make it more interesting, it is a great idea to leverage multimedia. Add relevant links, blogs, videos, presentations and documents under each of your listed job experiences to build an interesting portfolio. Of course, none of the content you share should be sensitive or derogatory in nature and only of the highest quality! You can also add media in the Summary and Education sections of your profile.
Another great option that you must consider to position yourself as a thought leader or an expert is the ‘Write Post’ option that appears under your profile picture.
Writing on LinkedIn is slightly different than writing on your personal blog. While it gives you the freedom to write on any topic as regularly as you like, it leaves the onus on you to streamline your thoughts.
To maintain a professional edge, before you start writing – ask yourself the purpose of using the platform. Create a general theme and a content strategy before embarking on this option.
Pro tip: Don’t stifle your creativity. LinkedIn posts don’t have to be just content, you can give references to useful resources, repost content or pen down your original thoughts. Whatever you do, don’t forget to add an attractive image and title to hook the readers. Rejoice – #Hashtags are back on LinkedIn (only on app) again.
Ask for recommendations
Having recommendations on your profile from employers, colleagues and clients help to build a credible story for your readers. Recommendations from satisfied clients speak volumes about your work ethics and quality. While requesting for a recommendation, you could ask them to recommend you for specific skills that you would like to highlight in your profile.
Recommendations work both ways. What you write about others also reflects on you. Always write meaningful recommendations focusing on your experience with the person and how they added value to your business, project, team or work, in general.
Endorse your peers
Great leaders and thorough professionals appreciate and respect their peers. Don’t hesitate to endorse you connections for relevant skills, it only takes a click but builds better connections by showing your peers you appreciate them and the skills you have seen them demonstrate.
Join LinkedIn Groups
Joining industry specific LinkedIn groups not only allows you to connect with industry experts and fresh talent but also helps you understand your industry better. Thoughtful participation is the key to gaining from LinkedIn Groups; start thoughtful topics and make comments that add value to the topic, refraining from unnecessary banter. The biggest advantage of joining LinkedIn groups is that you can contact the members in the group directly!
With increasing competition in every field, it takes more than a resume to gain an edge over your peers. An outstanding LinkedIn profile can give you that edge if framed properly. While adding relevant skills and giving and receiving endorsements increases your visibility, well crafted keyword rich text ensures your profile is searchable for relevant keywords you want to be associated with.
To truly succeed, use LinkedIn to create a strong personal brand online, because more than 80% social media leads for businesses are sourced through LinkedIn.
Wish you happy networking!