LinkedIn continues to be one of the fastest growing B2B social media platforms, with over 400 million users. It allows you to build your personal brand, connect with professional contacts, and gain access to new and relevant content.
Leveraged appropriately, you can use LinkedIn to market yourself, tap into new leads or customers, and identify growing trends that might impact your business.
To help you become a LinkedIn ninja, I’ll be sharing some tips and tricks over the next few weeks on how to build your profile, grow your network, and share thought leadership on this powerful platform.
Telling Your Story
Let’s begin by building a profile that tells a strong story about your background and what you can offer – this is your personal brand. Whether you are looking for employment, wanting to stand out to potential customers/clients, or become recognized as a thought leader, a well-developed profile can help set you apart.
Think about creating your personal brand and profile as though you are telling a story or talking to a new friend: a story about what you’ve done; a story about what you do now; and a story about where you want to go and what expertise you want to promote. This is a helpful lens as you populate your LinkedIn profile.
Building Your Profile
With your personal brand and story in mind, follow these five steps to craft an impressive LinkedIn profile.
1. Introduction: As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so adding a professional headshot is a great way to introduce yourself. If you don’t have an appropriate headshot, have a colleague snap a few photos against a plain, natural-lit background. Next, highlight your experience by creating a headline that includes your industry, expertise and/or company role. Consider what you would want an employer or customer to know about you if this is the only thing they read. Lastly, include the appropriate contact information to make it easy for people to get in touch.
Tip: Customize your personal LinkedIn url by including your name to make it easier to remember and share (“Settings<Profile<Edit Your Public Profile”).
2. Summary: Use the summary to humanize your experience and share your personality. Highlight your expertise and reinforce what you can do for a company or client. List any roles, skills, industries, etc. to clearly showcase your abilities.
Tip: Speak in first person (I) and avoid catch-phrases (i.e. jack of all trades), common descriptors (trustworthy, motivated, responsible) and above all, be authentic.
3. Experience & Education: List the companies where you’ve worked and the positions you’ve held. Under each new company, summarize the company, your role and key contributions. Under education, list your alma mater and as much detail as you’d like to share. LinkedIn also allows you to add media where you can upload attachments or videos and add news articles or websites to highlight aspects of your work.
Tip: Your profile acts as an online resume, so incorporate powerful action verbs, keywords related to your industry or position, and business results that highlight your impact (never include proprietary information).
4. Skills & Endorsements: Build a list of your top skills and LinkedIn will help you gather endorsements for those skills from your connections. This section leverages the word-of-mouth from others to reinforce your areas of expertise, giving you greater credibility.
Tip: When prompted to do so, consider the friendly gesture of endorsing your own connections for skills you admire.
5. Recommendations & Groups: Recommendations and Groups are another way of demonstrating your value and industry expertise. Reach out to past and current connections and request a recommendation that highlights a specific attribute, role, or project. Join groups that are relevant to your industry, expertise and background.
Tip: The strength of LinkedIn lies in the ability to build a network. Choose to make your connections visible to other connections (“Settings<Profile<Select Who Can See Your Connections”).
Follow these last tips, and you’ll be on your way to having a great LinkedIn profile.
- Adjust your LinkedIn Privacy & Settings before making any changes (found under your picture in the upper-right-hand corner)
- Be professional at all times
- Be authentic and use descriptive language that’s easy to understand
- Put yourself in the eyes of the reader
- Proofread your profile
For more information, watch this SlideShare presentation. In my next post, I’ll share details on how to effectively build your network and begin to leverage your connections for business opportunities.