If you want to be successful in your career, maintaining an online presence on LinkedIn is crucial.
Not only is this an effective way to network with other professionals in your field, it can get you noticed by others and potentially provide you with several employment opportunities.
In fact, I got a great job at a large company because I regularly updated my profile and posted career-related content almost daily. (This job ultimately inspired me to start my own business.)
Believe it or not, that was six years ago and today LinkedIn has only grown in importance.
LinkedIn profile summary
Simply creating an account, quickly filling in the blanks, and then leaving your profile on standby won’t do you any good.
Among the many elements that make up a strong profile, two of the most important are your professional designation and the “About” section, explain career experts from Harvard University’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Advancement.
Together, they make up what is known as your “LinkedIn Profile Summary,” and it’s one of the first things people see when they visit your page. Your professional title is especially important because it is the text that appears in search results for Google and LinkedIn.
Below is an example of a strong LinkedIn profile summary, according to career experts at Harvard:
PROFESSIONAL TITLE :
Scientific researcher | PhD Candidate | Data analysis, Biotech, Pharma
I am a research scientist working to better understand how neural activity motivates and shapes human behavior. My expertise includes project design and management, data analysis and interpretation, as well as the development and implementation of research tools. I enjoy generating new ideas and designing workable solutions to widely relevant problems. My colleagues would describe me as a motivated and resourceful person who maintains a positive and proactive attitude in the face of adversity. Currently, I am looking for opportunities that will allow me to develop and promote technologies beneficial to human health. Specific areas of interest include data analysis, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Here’s what makes it a strong profile summary:
- Can be walked in 30 seconds or less
- Professional title contains less than 120 characters, lists career goals and job elements
- Includes industry-related keywords, core skills, strengths, talents, and interests
- Well written in a professional style, without spelling and grammar mistakes
- Answers questions that provide a deeper insight into the individual: What makes her unique? Where is his career going? How would others describe her? What are its values and character traits?
LinkedIn profile checklist
While your profile summary is very important, you will need to spend time figuring out the rest.
Here’s a quick checklist of the basics to get you started:
- Upload your photo. Ideally, this should be done in business attire. Profiles with photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed, according to career experts.
- Customize the URL of your public profile. The address should look something like: www.linkedin.com/in/yourname. This will make it easier for you to include it on business cards, resumes, and email signatures.
- Improve your profile with additional sections. Posting additional information (eg, accomplishments, skills, volunteer experience, certifications, expertise) can also increase the number of times people view your profile, LinkedIn notes. This, in turn, can help you build your network and connect with new opportunities.
- Elaborate on your work history in the “Experience” section. Use targeted keywords and include specific information about what you have done in your previous posts that led to measurable results. (Don’t lie about titles or functions; you’ll likely be called by former colleagues – and that will be embarrassing.)
- Education: Include, in reverse chronological order, any programs or schools you attended.
- Personalize your “Skills and mentions” section. Ensuring a relevant list of skills on your profile allows other members of your network to endorse you. (The skills with the most mentions will be listed first). It will also help others understand your strengths and provide you with the right opportunities.
- Include recommendations. These should come from former supervisors, colleagues, clients, suppliers, teachers or classmates. (Basically, anyone who has good things to say about you and your work.)
Be an active member and build your network
Remember, the more active you are, the better. As you move on to new jobs or master new skills, make it a point to update your profile.
Being active also means getting involved in your community. You can do this by:
- Sharing updates and interesting content. This can include anything from new accomplishments and industry announcements to a blog post you wrote or an article that members of your network may want to read.
- Invite past and current colleagues, classmates, friends and family to connect. I am often asked if I ask or accept relationships with people I have never met. For me it’s a yes – but alone so I am really interested in developing a professional relationship with the person and their area of work is somehow related.
- Engage with “recent activity” in your relationships. LinkedIn lets you see what members of your network are posting, liking, and commenting on. If they shared a blog post that you enjoyed reading, for example, why not like it or respond with a nice comment?
- Join groups. This will help you strengthen bonds with people who share common skills, experiences, industry affiliations and goals.
Dustin McKissen is the founder of McKissen + Company, a strategic communications firm in St. Charles, Missouri. He was also named one of LinkedIn’s “Best Voices in Management and Corporate Culture”. Follow him on LinkedIn here.
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