Social media users leverage the power of their online presence for a variety of reasons — to share images of their children as they grow, discuss political topics and insights or keep up with their friends.
Though people know LinkedIn is for business, many start creating their profiles with a social media mindset. Thinking of your LinkedIn profile as a personal profile is fine, but it won’t advance your career. More than any other place, your LinkedIn profile is a digital copy of you — use it to its maximum potential. To do this, it must clearly explain three things about you:
- Who you are, both professionally and personally
- How you are different than others in your field
- Why your experience is relevant
How To Create A Successful LinkedIn Profile
The first step in ensuring people reading your profile understand who you are lies in how you create that profile. There are a few things to keep in mind during this process. The first is your headshot — don’t rely on a grainy photo that might have been a selfie. In real-life, you get an array of expressions to let people know who you are. Here, you get one shot — make it a good one. Hire a professional to give readers a face for your personal brand.
Conciseness is crucial to the next aspects of your profile — the headline and the summary. Conventional wisdom says that, in less characters than a tweet, you have to grab someone’s attention. Carefully consider what keyword string would be used to find you and incorporate it.
Boiling a lifetime of work and achievement into 2000 characters for a summary is equally challenging, but hit the highlights and infuse it with personality, and you should be good to go. Writing in the first person will help, but try to make it sparkle.
Don’t Neglect the Details
Provide the details you felt needed mentioning in the Summary in the Experience, Skill and Recommendation areas. Each place needs its own piece of your personal history. Where your earlier pieces were filled with life and personality, these can be clear, detailed and brag on your accomplishments in a way that you can’t in the Summary. A few things to remember for each:
Experience — When you list the places you’ve worked, use the LinkedIn’s automatic list. It imports the logo of those businesses, enhancing your profile.
Skills — The Skills sections is the one readers pay the most attention to, so make it shine. Emphasize your top 10 and list them in order of importance.
Recommendations — Backup your talk with recommendations — just make sure they count. One way to ensure they do is by using recommendations from top performers who can bear witness to your own story.
How to Create a Successful Network using LinkedIn
Once you look good on digital-copy, start building your network. There are three steps to this process: Build connections, engage with groups and find alumni. Of course, the last two steps automatically help with the first — building connections. Someone with over 500 connections will likely be a source of interest.
Consider how these thought leaders have leveraged LinkedIn for success:
Annie Cushing — The founder of Annielytics, Cushing has a beautiful LinkedIn page. Her summary claim that she “makes data sexy” is memorable, personal and fun. Her Experience, Skills and Recommendations, however, are professional. They balance the entertaining tone of her Summary.
Robert Mericle — Mericle is steadily gaining his 500 followers and building connections with reputable people the commercial real estate industry. He stays active on the site, ensuring that his network will grow.
Jean Scheidnes — This Vice President of Client Services at Social Media Delivered sets her profile apart with a professional but warm head shot. She’s used LinkedIn to its fullest by highlighting her vast experience.
Each of these individuals did something to set their profile apart — a personal summary, strong activity and visual interest. For your profile to be memorable, you must do the same.
Leverage LinkedIn to Further Your Career Goals
Just like Facebook preferences certain posts, LinkedIn plays favorites, too. Incomplete profiles are penalized, so a half-completed profile is really the same as not having one at all. To make LinkedIn work for your career, it’s got to be more than an afterthought. LinkedIn is an investment — treat it like one and work it to its full potential, so those looking zero-in on yours.