In a previous article, marketing professional Myrna Greenfield explained how to set up a good Company Profile on LinkedIn. In this next installment of a multipart series, she discusses best practices for Individual Profiles.
So now that you're on LinkedIn, how can you use it as efficiently and effectively as possible?
Adjust Your Settings Before You Begin Working in LinkedIn
LinkedIn allows users to adjust several different settings. You can reach the settings section from any page by going to your name in the top right of the page and dropping down to open the Settings link.
Here are a few of the most important settings:
LinkedIn requires you to designate one address as your primary email account, but lets you link multiple email addresses to your LinkedIn account. Make sure that you include at least 2 email addresses, including one from home and one from work, so you will be able to access your LinkedIn profile if your work email changes.
After you add the new address, you will need to open that email account and click the link in the confirmation email.
This will also help ensure that LinkedIn knows that both email addresses belong to the same person.
There are 5 privacy controls under the Profile page heading. Most are self-explanatory, but before you make changes in your profile, you should consider adjusting the settings for the “activity broadcasts” and “who can see your activity feed.”
LinkedIn generates an “activity feed” that displays actions you’ve performed on LinkedIn, such as making a recommendation, following a company or making changes in your profile.
Your activity feed doesn’t appear on your public profile, but when users are signed into LinkedIn, they can see it on the right side of your profile, under the heading, “[Your Name]’s Activity.” Your activity feed will also show up on your connections’ home pages.
Each time you change a section of your profile, the change is broadcast in a separate line of your activity feed, resulting in an annoying stream that may be too personal or too unimportant for you to want to share. While you will want people to know you have a new job or just got promoted, you may not always want to call attention to the fact that you are editing your profile.
LinkedIn lets you turn off the activity feed (either temporarily or permanently) by going to the Settings page and clicking on the “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” link.
You can also control who sees your feed by going to your profile settings and clicking “Select Who Can See Your Activity Feed” link. The drop down menu gives you the options of “Everyone,” “Your Connections,” “Your Network (your connections plus everyone who is in a group with you)," and “Only you.” If you select “Only You,” and click the Save Change button, then the Activity box will no longer be displayed on your profile.
Create a Complete and Compelling LinkedIn Profile
Having a thoughtful, completely filled-in LinkedIn profile is essential. An incomplete profile conveys the sense that you aren’t serious about participating in the network and others may not want to waste time connecting with you. Be specific about the mix of experience, expertise and personal qualities that make you distinctive (your brand).
If you have an up-to-date resumé, a fairly straightforward work history, a common job function and have already identified people to make recommendations, you can set up a good LinkedIn profile in 1-2 hours. But if you’re selling services or have a more complex work history, allow at least 6 hours over several days to set up your profile. (Be sure to turn off your activity feed while you’re setting up your profile – see above.)
- Don’t just cut and paste the information from your resumé into LinkedIn. Write your content to work in an online setting – make it as short as possible, easy to scan and use bullets as appropriate.
- Make sure to include an appealing, yet professional, photo of yourself. Neglecting to put a photo on profile is another signal that you’re not serious about participating in LinkedIn.
- Your headline is the most important statement on your profile, so think about what you want it to say. You have 120 characters. Most people simply list their current title, but if your job description does not convey the essence of what you do, or you’re self-employed, you should come up with a few words that are descriptive enough to suggest what you do – but intriguing enough that people will want to know more. Being specific will help you stand out. Headlines are searchable, so use key words that people might search with (e.g. “nonprofit” and “web design”).
Creating a Complete and Compelling LinkedIn Profile
- Summarize your positions succinctly. Unless you had important accomplishments at positions you held early in your work history, just include your past 3 positions. If you still have valuable connections from jobs you held a long time ago, just list your job title and dates for those positions. If possible, use the same key words from your headline in your job descriptions, so you will reinforce your skills and expertise.
- Use your Summary to convey how you and your specific skills can benefit the people viewing your profile.
- Write your specialties using the keywords that people would be likely to use when searching for someone with your skills.
- The Skills section is relatively new and is another way for your profile to be found. By entering a word and following the LinkedIn prompts to choose a specific term (e.g. “web development” instead of just “web,”) your profile is more likely to come up when LinkedIn members search for people with that specific skill.
- You need to have at least 3 recommendations in order to have a complete profile. When seeking recommendations, try to identify people who can recommend various aspects of your work in clear, descriptive language.
- Customize your LinkedIn URL so that it includes your name. This will increase the chance that your LinkedIn profile will show up in the search engines when someone searches for your name. To customize, go to Edit Profile and click on the word “Edit” to the right. This will open up a new menu. Scroll over to “Your Public Profile URL” and click on “Customize Your Public Profile URL.” Type your name in the box, click “Set Custom URL” and you’re good to go.
- Customize the name of your website and/or blog (if you have one). When you post a link to your website or blog on LinkedIn, the default text will say “my website,” or “my blog,” not the name of your website or blog. You can customize the link text to state the actual name of your website or blog, or even something descriptive (such as “fundraising tips” or “nonprofit management”) that will attract your target audience. To customize, go to Edit Profile, click on the word “edit” to the right of websites, open the scroll down menu and choose “Other” instead of “my website.” The words you type into the box will become a link to your website and are also searchable key words.
- If you Tweet, selectively send your tweets to LinkedIn. Although there is an app that will automatically send every tweet to LinkedIn, you can control which ones get posted on your LinkedIn profile by using the hash tag #in at the end of the tweets you want to post.
- LinkedIn now has a feature called “Improve Your Profile” that includes useful tips on what you need to do to complete your profile. Even if your profile says 100% percent complete, it may find something useful to do. For example, when I clicked on the link, it told me that I hadn’t completed the Skills section (which had been created after I set up my profile). It also told me that completing this section is important, because it helps people who are looking for someone with these skills to find you.
Your LinkedIn profile is now ready to go! Stay tuned for next month's installment which will discuss making connections and adding apps.