It’s that time of year again when we make bold claims and statements: that we will get fit, lose weight and hit our deadlines on time. Well here is one resolution that you should keep: update your LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn recently rolled out a new look to its 175 million members which should make it easier to tell your professional story and help you to find more connections and opportunities, and I think they’ve done a good job. Everyone’s profile is a lot cleaner and simpler to view, with clear divisions of the individual sections. It makes it much easier for you to see at a glance whether this person is who you are looking for.
But if people are able to see what skills and experience you have more easily, you must make sure your profile has been filled out correctly. Let’s go through the steps to improve your profile.
How to improve your LinkedIn profile:
- Your picture: This has been increased in size, so you should make sure the quality and display is correct for how you want to be perceived. And if you have a picture of you and your friends drinking, then now is the time to take a business photo of yourself. I’ve noticed you can choose to not have one at all but that is not really in the spirit of being part of a community, will frustrate searchers and may well count against you with potential opportunities.
- Headline – This hasn’t changed as part of the new look, but is one of the most overlooked sections of your profile. What goes in here is part of the algorithm as to where you appear in searches. Don’t just put in your current job title. In fact you can omit your job title altogether if it doesn’t reflect the keywords which best describe you professionally: use the 120 characters to include important keywords and experience. For example, I am a community manager so I have repeated this twice in my headline: Experienced Senior Community and Social Media Manager, currently Senior Community Manager at eModeration Limited
- Vanity URL – Don’t forget to get your own vanity URL for your profile (see underneath your photo). Including your own name in your LinkedIn URL strengthens your personal brand, makes it easy for you to remember and looks better on business cards or on your contact details for biogs.
- Activity – This is something that LinkedIn is giving a higher priority to. Your activity shouldn’t only be about people with whom you have connected: it should be a reflection of how much you use LinkedIn, and your professional knowledge and interest. So next time you read something interesting connected with your work, comment on it, share it on your business network. You should aim to have at 2/3 updates a week.
Tell your own LinkedIn story through your experience and skills
- Background – LinkedIn is encouraging you to tell your business history and with pictures, videos and documents.
- The first section is your Summary. Even if you have written your summary quite recently, write it again with your highlights for 2012. Your summary should be changed to include changes in your industry and to reflect how current your profile is. Let your output speak for you. Include links to videos, images, documents, presentations and blogs.
- The second section is on Experience. Don’t just cut and paste your CV/resume here. Take the time to really talk about what you did in each role, and make this section really reflect your professional experience and achievements. Again, add links to images, videos, presentations.
- If an organisation you’ve worked for has already been referenced on LinkedIn, you will be able to select it from a drop down as you start to enter the name (otherwise, you can enter it as a new company). If the organisation has its own LinkedIn profile, then its logo and a link to its company profile on LinkedIn will appear. Perhaps you could suggest your current company creates a profile if it doesn’t already have one?
- In your background, there is the opportunity to include education, courses, publications and voluntary work: try to have as complete a profile as possible.
Showcase your Skills and Expertise
This is an area that has changed considerably. Now there is the ability to have your individual skills endorsed by your connections (and these endorsements will also appear under the relevant employment sections under ‘background’). LinkedIn allows you to set up to 60 areas of skills/expertise. This list is then visible on your profile and to receive an endorsement, a connection simply clicks that they endorse you for that skill.
Irrespective of whether you think these endorsements water down your profile, since the site has made it so easy to endorse people and there is undoubtedly a large element of log-rolling, you should play the LinkedIn game and set up your most important skills so you can get endorsed. Don’t forget you can still request and give recommendations as you would do previously, so if you want to recommend a connection, you can do so.
Both these areas are completely editable, so if you get an unwelcome endorsement, then you can hide this endorsement from public view.
Groups and Follows
Remember the LinkedIn groups to which you belong and the companies you follow are visible on your profile. Make sure they convey the right impression. So if there are groups you don’t visit, leave the groups. It’s a good opportunity to clean up your groups so you only belong to the valuable ones.
I hope these hints and tips have been useful to help you update your profile. I suggest you make a note to review your profile at least once every quarter: you need to keep it fresh and high up in the searches or people won’t find you. If I have missed anything feel free to let me know. Take a look at my own profile on LinkedIn and see what you think.
Coming soon, I’ll take a look at how organisations get the most out of your Company Profile on LinkedIn. Good luck with those New Year resolutions!