8 Steps to Building a Powerful LinkedIn Profile
The latest survey data indicate 94% of recruiters today use social media in their recruitment efforts. And it’s at all levels for short-term cooks to financial analysts. And yet, people are puzzled, or at least skeptical, as to why tools like LinkedIn are such a game-changer.
Think of it like this: previously, only the demand side of the labor market was organized. Employers advertised the jobs; applicants had to look at what was posted (first in the newspapers, then online) and apply.
Now the labor market supply—meaning you and me—has a place to hang out. And employers can come to us, with or without a specific job in mind. LinkedIn is a searchable database of talent and skills. You are potentially visible to anyone specifically looking for what you have to offer.
Imagine if you could permanently run an ad in a global newspaper selling the best of “you” – and anyone with an opportunity, whether it’s a job offer, a consulting position or of a commercial agreement, can find you. It’s LinkedIn.
In this article, we’ll show you how to create this ad in just eight steps. We’ve done all the research for you and boiled it down to these eight key things. We followed the before and after results of doing this – and only this much – with 27 of our clients’ LinkedIn profiles. Optimized profiles garnered an average of five times more profile views than before.
So, let’s start:
1. Your picture
The photo must be of your face. Not your dog. Or a waterfall. Choose a simple photo in which you are looking straight ahead. No selfies. Well worth the money to have a professional photo taken. Remember, it doesn’t have to be boring or contrived. You don’t have to wear business attire if that’s not your style. But you must look professional and pleasant. Smile. You opt for “reliable” and “trustworthy”. Avoid “sexy” or “eccentric”.
The old adage is true. People remember faces more than names. This is also why we need to see your face and not some other part of you. For example, a yoga instructor should always use a photo of the head and not a photo of themselves in a yoga pose. Photos that demonstrate skill or talent can be uploaded elsewhere on your profile, along with training videos and presentation materials.
2. Your title
You have 120 characters at the top of your profile to describe to the world what you do. Many people just put their official job title. Which is one way to go…or you can really use the system to your advantage here. Choose descriptive and compelling keywords that a) make you as marketable as possible and b) help you get found by the right people. Remember that LinkedIn is a search engine.
Examples of effective titles are “Recruiter, HR, Talent Management Expert” or “Brand Marketing, PR, Communications Professional”. Handy, especially if you are currently looking for a job.
3. Your summary
LinkedIn Summary section is the best part of its 2012 redesign. You can include high resolution photos, a infographics of your experience, or a video of a talk you gave. It’s worth the effort to write a unique and compelling summary section.
You can think of it as your “60 second commercial” or your “elevator speech”. These are the first sentences people read, and you have very little time to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read more.
There are several ways to write a good Summary. This can be a copy/paste of the summary section of your CV. Or it might read more like your bio. You can take a core skills approach and list the three or four key skills you bring to the table. You can take an achievement-based approach and list the top three or four results you achieved on behalf of your past employers or clients.
Or you can get creative and pair an interesting story with a section called “what you won’t find on my resume”. How far you can go creatively depends to some extent on your industry, as some are more traditional than others.
Either way, by the end of this section, the reader should have a clear idea of who you are and how you help people. End with a call to action (CTA) – for example, “Please contact us to discuss opportunities in X, Y and Z.”
4. Your experience
This is the body of your profile — like a traditional CV — where you really are showcase your experience, expertise and skills. You add where you worked, for how long and in what roles and functions. List your current position and at least two other positions.
There are two ways to manage this section:
Adapt it from your CV; you can copy/paste relevant job descriptions and accomplishments for each position.
If you are not comfortable listing too much information under specific employers, you can simply add the employer’s name, your position, dates, leave the rest blank and include in the Summary a more general “skill-based” experience piece.
5. Keywords and SEO
Include keywords everywhere, especially in the Summary and Experience sections, for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes. When recruiters use LinkedIn, they use certain industries–specific keywords. These are the terms that will help you appear in their search results on LinkedIn.
Ways to determine your keywords:
What words and phrases might people in your target market use to search for someone with your background, experience, and service offering? Access the careers page of some potential employers that interest you, and choose common keywords around that job or industry.
This is an area that we see easily slipping through the cracks. Yet it’s one of the most valuable tools for building your credibility in the job market.
You need to be proactive in asking for referrals, following up, and keeping up to date. Referrals can come from anyone: bosses, colleagues, mentors and mentees, satisfied customers, or anyone who has worked with you and benefited from your skills or advice.
A well-crafted recommendation that really shines from a peer is better than a few generic phrases from a high-level CEO.
Our best advice is to have a strategy. Ask each person to talk about particular skills or highlight certain experiences in as much detail as possible. Help your recommenders by giving them this detail. For example, if you want them to highlight leadership skills, remind them of two or three times when you skillfully led a project. Finally, make sure that the sum total of your recommendations covers all your skills and experiences, and that their content confirms (or at least does not contradict) what you have written about yourself.
Always thank your recommenders and offer to recommend them as well. In fact, take it a step further and submit the draft of a potential recommendation.
7. Groups and associations
Groups are a way to build relationships and network with people who do similar work or have similar interests to yours. There are approximately 1.3 million groups to choose from on LinkedIn.
Join as many relevant groups as possible and contribute to the conversation. To start, join alumni groups for where you went to school and any industry association groups relevant to your area of work. When you join the discussion, try to lend your expertise to the conversation and show your interest and value.
8. Make sure you have a “complete profile”
LinkedIn says your profile will appear 40 times more in search results if it’s “complete.” In other words, you will be open to 40 times more opportunities If you do this. So please do it. Here’s LinkedIn’s definition of a 100% complete profile:
— Your industry and location
— An up-to-date current position (with description)
— Two former positions
– Your education
— Your skills (minimum 3)
— A profile picture
— At least 50 connections
That’s it! Your profile is now ready. Use it to position yourself as an expert in your field. Keep adding content and optimizing for best results. Connect with people and start building a powerful network of former colleagues and future collaborators. In the next article, we’ll show you how to use LinkedIn as both a networking tool and a great job search engine.