LinkedIn is the primary highway for networking and job hunting. Connecting with people you know, and with people you don’t, LinkedIn provides access for you to explore professional growth and opportunities through human connection.
For job seekers, LinkedIn is essentially a “must-have” in order to be a viable candidate these days. But for many people, they can either be unsure or hesitant about how to get started.
When I work with one of my career coaching clients and we talk about a LinkedIn strategy, I ask them to tell me which bullet they feel most closely describes where they are, and which one describes where they want to be:
- I just want an account so I can check out other people. This is a one-way street for me.
- I want to have a profile so that if someone is looking *specifically* for me, they can find me.
- I want to have a profile that helps people looking for *someone like me* to find me when they’re looking.
- I want to be a positive influence on my LinkedIn network and share content of value.
Most people who hire me as a career coach are somewhere between bullet one and bullet two, but have a goal to be at bullet three. There are lots of strategies to help get you there, but the first one is to make sure
Here are my 5 top tips to get your LinkedIn Profile solid and get you on your way to making LinkedIn work for you!
Customize Your URL
(Click on “Edit Profile and URL” and then “Edit your custom URL”)
If you’ve never customized your LinkedIn Profile URL (the web address, as it is its own webpage), you probably have your name and then a whole series of numbers after it. You can customize this to something else (as long as it isn’t taken already). You can have 5-30 letters or numbers in your URL, so consider things like John-Doe-Sales-Excellence or Jane-Smith-microbiologist or Jim-Johnson-Estate-Attorney
Create a Compelling Headline
(Click the pencil next to ADD PROFILE SECTION and MORE )
Your headline is one of the most visible parts of your profile, and you have 120 characters to make it shine for you! Back in the day, and by default, LinkedIn populates your current job title. You don’t need to use that as your profile headline! Consider this space to be a place to highlight your brand, your value proposition, your unique skill set. Grab your reader’s attention! Tailor it to your audience. Consider a sentence, like “Pre-sales consultant with tons of B2B experience closing SaaS deals and growing bottom lines” or “Senior Accountant who loves nothing more than making sure the balance sheet balances” or “Leadership and Development executive ensuring employees stay engaged and at the top of their game”
Make Your ABOUT Section Count
(Click on ADD PROFILE SECTION and select ABOUT)
You finally have a fair amount of room (2000 characters) to tell your story. How do you make it count?
- Include your experience and value, and an overall discussion of who you are, the impact you make, and the value you bring
- Make sure you incorporate the keywords that someone might use to search for someone like you.
- Unlike a resume, you can actually use slightly more conversation language (like “I” statements) in your ABOUT section.
Provide and Request Recommendations
Having recommendations on your profile (not just the “skills endorsement” section) shows real “street cred” (or a more formal term: “social proof”). And offering recommendations to others you’ve worked with is the best way to prompt a reciprocal favor! If you have a good relationship with someone who can speak to the quality of your contributions, don’t be afraid to ask them to highlight specific points. If you’re offering to write a recommendation for them, ask them what they’d love you to highlight, too!
Don’t Forget the Photos!
Please, please, please, post a profile photo. A current one. One that feels more professional than your Facebook profile photo probably does. Why. First, people are judgy. I can’t change that. They want to check out and see if they just plain like the looks of you and determine if somehow your profile suggests you might be a serial killer. Second, LinkedIn’s algorithm favors profiles with photos over ones without them (yes, even if you just put a picture of Snoopy in there, it will work as far as the algorithm is concerned). Do you want to be found on LinkedIn? Of course. Would you prefer to be found on page 3 vs page 5? Of course! Keep in mind:
- Should just be of YOU, no spouses, kids, or pets
- Be looking into the camera, not somewhere else
- Just needs to be from the armpits and up; a wider view gives less detail
- No hats, sunglasses, and keep the clothes professional *enough* looking
- Avoid the “fun” photos — the wedding, the day out on the boat, the baseball game selfie
BUT! Don’t forget that you can ALSO change the background photo on your profile. This could be an image, a graphic you create in something like Canva, but should be something you think enhances your brand and the experience people have when reviewing your profile.
Where do you think YOU need to get started to improve (or create!) your LinkedIn profile today??