Take action to create a strong professional profile on LinkedIn and leverage the power of your social network to advance your career. In 7 easy steps you can make LinkedIn a powerful tool in your job hunt and a sustained boost to your online presence. No matter who you are or where you are on your career path, your professional social media matters. Here are 7 simple ways you can build a stronger LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn remains the top social media site for professional networking and is becoming increasingly important for job hunting and networking at the executive level. LinkedIn profiles also rank very high on search results so a complete and strategically crafted profile can elevate your online presence. Despite these facts, 90% of people don’t fully utilize the power of their profile so you can really stand out from the crowd by taking a few simple steps.
creating a strong professional profile:
1. Get Customized
Each LinkedIn user is automatically assigned a unique (but not very memorable) URL. It’s easy and common to change this URL to something more personal, like your name. Having your name in your LinkedIn URL can elevate your profile in the results of Internet search tools. In fact, everything in your profile can help or hurt your search result placement, so be sure to complete all of the steps I’ve recommended below. Having a customized URL also leaves a positive impression; non-customized URLs are for n00bs and luddites.
2. Go Public
LinkedIn will allow you to control how you look to people who are not signed in, and how your profile looks to search engines (ex: Google, Bing). LinkedIn is a professional networking tool so, in my mind, all of your information should be fully accessible except for perhaps your contact information. If you have a strong reason to keep some elements of your profile private, LinkedIn allows you to limit who can see individual sections or your whole profile.
3. Include (Nearly) Everything
If you have ever worked with me you’ll know how much I emphasize curating and customizing your resume for each application package. On your LinkedIn, however, I give the opposite advice; include (nearly) every job.
- Recruiters will search LinkedIn for people with specific experiences or who have worked for specific companies; you do not want to miss out on being scouted because you have an incomplete online profile.
- Professionals will use LinkedIn to reconnect with former coworkers, classmates, and colleagues in their field. The more complete your profile is the more likely you are to get connected – and stay connected – with your professional network.
I say nearly every job. The only jobs you may want to leave out are those that would work against you. For example, that place you worked for a week and a half and then quit / were fired? Probably not useful. If you current job is the problem and you are looking to escape then you might want to check out these 3 Essential Questions to Ask Before a Career Change.
4. Be Descriptive
The people who read your LinkedIn profile – most especially recruiters – aren’t only interested in your job titles and companies. Your description matters, too. Don’t miss the opportunity to leverage the full power of your job description. Focus on your actions, impact, and results; your responsibilities are less important than your successes, accomplishments, and what value you brought to your company/team. Whenever possible, rewrite your description to include keywords you know people might search for (recruiters, potential collaborators, influencers).
5. Leverage Keywords
Make a list of the keywords others might use to search for people with your expertise and experience. Use those words where appropriate in your bio and job descriptions. Then use those keywords to start building out your Skills section. Use the words you know recruiters, employers, and collaborators would use. Search other relevant LinkedIn profiles to source additional keywords. I also found this little book handy for writing better job descriptions.
6. Get Connected
How you make connections on LinkedIn will depend on why you are making connections. The LinkedIn company recommends you only connect with people you know professionally – people with whom you have direct contact and a working relationship. This is one end of the network spectrum. At the other end is open networking, wherein you might connect with anyone who asks or who seems interesting to you. Neither approach is right or wrong; go with what seems right to you.
7. Engage in the Community
Once you have a strong profile you’ll want to share that profile with the world. Post status updates regularly and, if you blog/vlog, share your own content. Share relevant (professional) news and opinion pieces along with your own commentary. These actions all keep your name in the conversation and in front of your network’s eyes.
Ask for recommendations when you feel comfortable doing so (it’s a great time to ask when you have finished working with a client on a project that went especially well, or when a coworker leaves your team for another role). Do not simply say ‘can you write me a recommendation?’; be specific:
- Remember how I solved [some problem] by [innovative solution]? Would you be willing to share that in your own words as a recommendation on LinkedIn?
- I’m looking for a recommendation for [skill/ability/task] to update my LinkedIn profile. You have experience with me in that area; would you be willing to write a positive recommendation about my abilities?
- This project went really well, and I have enjoyed working with you. I’d love to have a client’s perspective as part of my LinkedIn profile. Would you be willing to write a little bit about your experience working together?
Don’t worry too much about what people might say; you have the ability to review and hide recommendations that aren’t useful to you. I recommend curating your recommendations to show mostly current comments and from a variety of sources (peer/team leader/client). You can even cycle your recommendations to share different ones from time to time.
Making LinkedIn Work for You
LinkedIn has become my digital rolodex. (If you don’t know what that is, ask an old person or see one here.) This is the place I go to find the contact information for my professional connections (if we don’t email or call regularly). It is also my go-to spot for finding out where people work.
If you found these tips useful you might also read about Mistakes That Tank a Resume.