Remember when we just needed a plain old resume? A resume was enough and a resume was private. You could control who saw it and there was no pressure for it to be snazzy, engaging or to have it be a living, growing thing.
As Joe Friday famously said, your resume was “Just the facts, ma’am.” You could list your workplace and dates, state your job title and note what you did during your tenure at each company.
Done and done. Not any more! These days in order to seem relevant, vibrant, and current to customers and peers alike, you have to have a LinkedIn presence.
Not having a LinkedIn profile tells the world that either a.) you don’t know how to create a great profile or b) you don’t care enough to bother. You don’t want anyone thinking either of those things about you, professionally. So no problem. You take your resume and plug it in on LinkedIn.
You’re good , right? By now I’m sure you have created a presence of some kind on LinkedIn. You likely have a clean little rundown of where you have worked and for how long. You know… just your resume, only online. Good enough, right? Wrong. So wrong.
LinkedIn is one of the top 10 most trafficked sites on the internet and unlike other ‘social’ sites like Facebook or Twitter, people are on there to talk about business and work. This is a great place for you to shine and show off what you know and where you’ve been.
So let’s run down a list of everything you should be doing to maximize your online presence. Here are some basic and then increasingly more advanced best practices for LinkedIn:
1. The Headline
Your headline should NOT be your job title. Surprised? So are 90% of other LinkedIn users who seem to think that’s what goes in this spot. Don’t just plug in a boilerplate role or job title. You can do so much more with this “headline” field. A LinkedIn headline needs to be what all other headlines need to be. Snappy, attention grabbing, sizzle-selling. Keep it under 120 characters and try to communicate not just what you are but what you can do. Here are some great ones I found online:
- I’m a Growth Hacker. I help people grow and accelerate their businesses.
- Head honcho, headhunter, sometime head-shrinker and living proof that the only good recruiter is NOT a dead recruiter.
- I’ve Helped 7 Companies Reach $1 Billion. Who Wants To Be #8?
See? Don’t you instantly like all those people or at least want to find out a bit more about them? Don’t worry that you might not specifically say what your role is in the headline, there’s room for that further down.
The point of the headline isn’t to inform. It’s to differentiate. It’s to sell. It’s selling you!
2. The Photo
While maybe not as do-or-die as, say, your online dating photo, your LinkedIn headshot is still super important. I know, when it comes to your work life, looks shouldn’t matter. But they do. And not in the way you think!
Professionally, no one cares about how lush your hair is (or isn’t) or how much you weigh. They care about you being authentic. Just like how you would never wear jeans and messy hair to a job interview, you want to make sure you present yourself clearly, cleanly and professionally in your LinkedIn photo.
LinkedIn’s talent blog actually offers the following 5 photo tips, which I think are the best ones out there:
- Make sure your photo actually looks like you. Don’t Photoshop anything away or pick a photo from 20 years ago. If you post a photo that doesn’t look like you on a day-to-day, current basis you risk losing credibility with someone who you eventually meet in person. If you can’t take a recent photo, make sure an honest friend or relative looks at the photo and verifies that it looks like you do now.
- Your actual face should comprise at least 60% of the frame. You might think posting a tiny photo of you on an expansive beach or wearing sunglasses seated behind the wheel of a Porsche makes you look successful..but it also makes it impossible to see what you look like. And again, we don’t 100% trust who we can’t 100% see.
- Smile! It doesn’t need to be a big fake toothy grin, but don’t try to look overly serious or intellectual. Opt instead for loose, confident, happy approachability.
- Dress right. No glamour shots, no threadbare sloppy clothes or skimpiness allowed. Wear in your photo what you’d likely wear to work.
- Choose a plain background. You want viewers looking at YOU. Not the airbrushed rainbow behind you, or the Vegas skyline. Keep it simple and neutral so your face is what gets noticed.
3. The Keywords
There are three places you should make sure you include keywords. The first is in your URL. Don’t just settle for the pre-assigned www.linkedin.com/in/MartinSmith43784738247392. Instead, transform yourself into www.linkedin.com/in/MartinSmithMarketingConsultant! Don’t know how to edit your own LinkedIn profile URL?
It’s easier than you think. You can edit your URL by clicking the little edit button that appears under your profile photo, next to the numerical URL they automatically assign you. You can change that!
Next, let’s look at the guts of your LinkedIn profile. The summary. Here you should definitely have a few choice keywords tucked in. You have a lot of room to play with here, about 2,000 characters. So you have plenty of room to stretch out and talk about what makes you great.
What makes you an authority in the field of X. What makes what you do have an impact on other people. Once you determine the best keywords for you to use in your profile (this is a great link to help figure that out) you should make sure to mention them at least once, maybe twice, per section.
Another obvious place to include keywords is in the Experience section. Sprinkle them liberally here, too.
4. Advanced: Join Groups
Now that your profile is complete and cleaned up, get out there! Socialize and share. The whole point of LinkedIn is not being an island. It’s about linking in! Link up with other professionals who share the same background, skillset and passions you do.
You will be able to learn so much by joining groups that talk specifically about your industry and your interests. Better still, they will learn about you. You never know where the next sale or customer will come from.
Anyone referred from a trusted LinkedIn group could have (and let’s face it: probably will have) that much more of a competitive advantage!
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