LinkedIn is all about connecting, but before we connect, we look for what we have in common. That’s the key to putting together a profile that jump-starts conversation. Think of your profile as a way to promote your brand—a professional permalink, a fixed point on the web to promote your skills, your knowledge, your personality. Brands build trust by using an authentic voice and telling a credible story. Here are nine tips to help you do the same.
1. Don’t cut and paste your resume
LinkedIn hooks you into a network, not just a human resources department. You wouldn’t hand out your resume before introducing yourself, so don’t do it here. Instead, describe your experience and abilities as you would to someone you just met. And write for the screen, in short blocks of copy with visual or textual signposts. Add a photo so that people can recognise you.
2. Borrow from the best marketers
Light up your profile with your voice. Use specific adjectives, colorful verbs, active construction (“managed project team,” not “responsible for project team management”). Act naturally: don’t write in the third person unless that formality suits your brand. Picture yourself at a conference or client meeting. How do you introduce yourself? That’s your authentic voice, so use it.
3. Write a personal tagline
That line of text under your name? It’s the first thing people see in your profile. It follows your name in search hit lists. It’s your brand. (Note: your e-mail address is not a brand!) Your company’s brand might be so strong that it (and your title) is sufficient. Or you might need to distill your professional personality into a more eye-catching phrase, something that at a glance describes who you are.
4. Put your elevator pitch to work
Go back to your conference introduction. That 30-second description, the essence of who you are and what you do, is a personal elevator pitch. Use it in the Summary section to engage readers. You’ve got 5–10 seconds to capture their attention. The more meaningful your summary is, the more time you’ll get from readers.
5. Point out your skills
Think of the Skills & Expertise field as your personal search engine optimizer, a way to refine the ways people find and remember you. Adding specific skills and expertise allow you to highlight particular abilities which help you stand out from the crowd. You can also receive endorsements on these skills from your connections, giving you added credibility with that third-party stamp of approval.
6. Explain your experience
Help the reader grasp the key points: briefly say what the company does and what you did or do for them. Picture yourself at that conference, again. After you’ve introduced yourself, how do you describe what you do, what your company does? Use those clear, succinct phrases here—and break them into visually digestible chunks.
7. Improve your Google PageRank
Use the Additional Information section to round out your profile with a few key interests. Add websites that showcase your abilities or passions. Then edit the default “My Website” label to encourage click-throughs (you get Google page rankings for those, raising your visibility). Maybe you belong to a trade association or an interest group; help other members find you by naming those groups. If you’re an award winner, add prestige without bragging by listing them here.
8. Distinguish yourself from the crowd
Pat your own back and others’. Get recommendations from colleagues, clients, and employers who can speak credibly about your abilities or performance (Think quality, not quantity). Ask them to focus on a specific skill or personality trait that drives their opinion of you. Make meaningful comments when you recommend others. And mix it up – variety makes your recommendations feel authentic.
9. Build your connections
Connections are one of the most important aspects of your brand: the company you keep reflects the quality of your brand. What happens when you scan a profile and see that you know someone in common? That profile’s stock with you soars. The value of that commonality works both ways. So identify connections that will add to your credibility and pursue those.
10. Be active
One of your LinkedIn profile’s key benefits is that it is a living reflection of your professional life which you can keep updated with ease, as opposed to a paper resume which only shows a static snapshot of a point in time. For instance, make sure a new title or job is listed; and list key projects you have completed or professional courses you might be taking. Staying active on LinkedIn also demonstrates that you are in tune with the going-ons around you – be it around your career, your industry or your connections. Express your point of view on an industry trend with a status update, or comment on a connection’s news share to build your credibility. Connect promptly with new professional acquaintances to sustain the professional relationship.