In an ideal world, job seekers would be recruited for a position without having to send out hundreds of resumes, recruiters would quickly be able to narrow their search down to a few of the most relevant candidates, and throngs of customers would come to you and beg to do business with you. With LinkedIn, this ideal is quickly becoming a reality. I found my current job doing Social Media at Vistage International through LinkedIn. Someone at Vistage sent me a LinkedIn message saying, “I came across your profile and I’m in the market for somebody young and talented on the web to be my right hand guy here at Vistage International. If you have a few minutes, let’s chat.” I was hired soon after, and a year and a half later, I’m still happily working at Vistage.
In this article I’ll walk you through various tips to optimize your profile for success on LinkedIn. Whether you’re the CEO of your company, just entering the job market or in an entry to mid-level role, these tips will increase your personal branding and visibility on LinkedIn:
- Your Profile Picture: It is important to have a recent profile picture (a picture taken within the last two years). The picture is the first impression that someone is going to have of you and the only image that represents who you are. If you’re the CEO, you might want to have a picture of yourself in a suit; an artist may want to have a picture that captures his or her creative side, etc. Having the same picture on multiple social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ will help build your personal brand.
- Your Professional Headline: Remember, your professional headline will be the first thing that someone sees in a message or connection request, so it’s important to have a headline that clearly represents what you do. There are two ways that I’ve found to do this effectively:
a. Write a headline that displays all the different titles that someone is likely to search for on LinkedIn to find you. For example: Social Media Marketing Consultant | Social Media Trainer| SMO | Blog Marketing | Internet Marketing Specialist because these are the titles that someone would most likely be searching for to find someone with my expertise.
b. Write a descriptive headline that illustrates what you do with keywords filtered in. For example: Marketing strategist that specializes in growing revenue through strategic partnerships and digital channels (There is a 120 character limit).
- Share an Update: It is important to stay relevant in the eyes of whatever audience you are trying to reach. Share updates that display thought leadership in whatever field you’re in. On average you would want to update this 1-3 times per day. The benefit to you is that your update will appear on your connections’ newsfeed and if the article resonates well with them, they are likely to visit you or your profile for more information. Hint: A great place to find new content is on LinkedIn Today; you can customize LinkedIn today to get articles that interest you based on the publications you read or by topics.
- Work Experience (Current and Past Positions): Your job title is important because there are many different variations of titles that someone might be searching for on LinkedIn. If you only include one variation or keyword, it might be hard for someone searching to find you. If you’re a CEO, someone might be searching for President, Founder, Managing Partner, Owner, etc. You may want to use something like: President and CEO of _____ Company. The description is a great place to put your job responsibilities and accomplishments.
- Education: Filling out your education information is important because many people have a strong affinity to the college or university they attended. Many people who don’t normally connect with people they don’t know on LinkedIn will connect with alumni from the same college or university.
- Getting Recommendations: It is important to have at least three recommendations from co-workers, people you manage, or clients. Recommendations now appear right below your job description for a certain position. LinkedIn does not require 3 recommendations anymore to get to a 100% complete profile however I still think this is best practice.
- Adding Websites: When adding websites, always select the option “Other” because it will give you another field to enter a description of your website. “Personal Website” doesn’t describe what someone would be clicking; adding a detailed description will help increase traffic to your site from your LinkedIn profile.
- Editing Your Public Profile URL: It is important to create a custom URL for your page. You will most likely want to use your full name when you customize this because you want to optimize your page for search results in Google. Also, creating a custom URL will make it easier for you to share the link with friends, employers or co-workers.
- Adding Your Summary: The summary is a biography of your work history. This can consist of all of your accomplishments throughout your career and a brief overview of what you’ve done that has led you to where you are in your career now. This is also the section where you can add the most content to your profile, so it is important that you utilize it. Filter the keywords that you would want to be searched for throughout this section as well in a creative way to help optimize your profile for search
- Adding to your Skills & Expertise Section: The skills and expertise section is becoming increasingly more important to your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn made a change last year that now requires you to have 3 skills added to your profile in order to get to 100% profile completeness. You are allowed to add up to 50 skills to your profile and I’d recommend adding all 50 of them if possible. Recruiters are using skills to find people that match a specific criteria and they are likely searching for a specific set of skills as opposed to a specific job title. To get to this section, hover over “More” in the top navigation of LinkedIn next to the search bar and select “Skills & Expertise” from the list. Enter in a skill in the search box and wait for the list of populated skills to come up. As an example, type in “leadership.” As you’re typing you should see a list of related skills to “leadership.” Click whichever one would apply to you and when you get taken to the page for that skill, hit the blue “Add Skill” in the lower left side of your skill box. Go back to edit profile mode of your profile and you should see a new section if you scroll down that says “Skills.”
- Getting Endorsements: I get two questions about endorsements most often. What is the difference between an endorsement and a recommendation and why should I be worried about endorsements? The difference between an endorsement and a recommendation is that an endorsement is just someone “endorsing you” or letting everyone on LinkedIn know that they believe you are a valuable resource for a specific skill. A recommendation is a written recommendation for you in a specific role. The reason why getting an endorsement is important to you is because as you get more endorsements for a specific skill, it is more likely that you’ll come up in the search results when someone is searching that skill. For example: I have 58 people who have endorsed me for Social Media Marketing so when someone searches for people with the skill social media marketing in my area, it is likely that I will come up somewhere on the first few pages of the search results.
- Adding Sections: Although LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to add third-party applications to your profile anymore, they do still have valuable sections that you can add to your profile such as courses, patents, publications, certifications and more. To get to these additional sections, click on edit profile and on the right hand side you will see a list of available sections that you can add to your profile.
What does it take to get to 100% profile completeness?
Tracking Your Success
So now you might be wondering, “How do I know that the changes I made are helping people find my profile?” When you’re on your home screen or in edit profile mode you’ll see a box on the right hand side that says “Who’s Viewed Your Profile.” Click into that, and after filling in all of the information to your profile, you can monitor the appearances in search results over the next couple weeks to see if there is an increase. The higher your appearances in search, the more optimized your profile is for the keywords you are targeting.
(UPDATED) If you have a premium account, you will be able to see more data on how people are viewing your profile. Here is a screenshot from my keyword data that shows how effective my page is at targeting keywords relating to social media.
Takeaways from this visual:
1. More people find my page through keywords than they do typing in my name. (I would’ve expected more people to find my page through typing in my name. However, this is great because it means what i’m doing is working.)
2. My appearances in search has been dropping so I might need to go back to my profile and try optimizing my page for different keywords that more people are searching for. (It’s an ongoing process)
By following this guide to a complete profile, I hope you see success in increasing your visibility and personal brand on LinkedIn.
If this worked for you or if you have success stories from being on LinkedIn, please share your story in the comments below. If you found value in this article please share it with your peers!
Featured Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheilascarborough/