AKA: Facebook for professionals.
LinkedIn is an incredible networking tool with more than 300 million users. It’s an amazing source for business information and advice. It also can serve as the digital replacement for the traditional business card. It’s often the first place people visit when they want to learn about you. If someone starts with a Google search, he or she will likely end up on your LinkedIn profile. It’s usually one of the top three results on Google – if your profile is properly optimized.
If you’re a job seeker, you can use LinkedIn to find open positions, research prospective employers, learn about a company’s news and culture, and cultivate your own professional profile. As a student, LinkedIn lets you showcase your accomplishments on and off campus and helps you make connections with people who can help you once you hit the job scene.
From a snappy headline to a custom URL and a strong summary, a fully optimized LinkedIn profile is a thing of beauty.
Here are seven ways to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile.
1: Choose a Great Profile Photo
First impressions matter. When creating your profile, choose a photo of yourself alone, rather than one with other people in it. You don’t want anyone looking at your profile to wonder which of the people in the photo is you!
You don’t necessarily need a professional headshot, but choose a head and shoulder photo that isn’t fuzzy and clearly shows your face.
Tip: Adding a professional photo to your profile can result in 14 times more profile views.
2: Craft a Solid Headline
The default setting is your current job title but you have the flexibility to change that. Instead, describe what you do professionally and perhaps some of your interests.
3: Customize Your URL
This is a simple thing to do and it will make it easy for people to find you AND is an easy thing to include on your resume.
4: Write a Stellar Summary
After people see your headshot and read you headline, they’ll check out your summary. This is place to pique their interest. This is your chance to shine and brevity is key. You have 2,000 characters to describe who you are and what you’re all about. Consider including these things in your summary:
-Present and future ambitions
-Values and passions
-What makes you stand out
-Awards and accolades
5: Upload Samples of Your Work
Show off the type of work you produce by uploading images, videos, documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc. Be sure that this work supports the skills you list and any attributes you included in your headline and summary. It validates you and your work. Also, make sure that anything you upload is not considered company-confidential information because anyone who visits your profile will be able to see it.
6: Politely Make Invitation Requests
Connection invitations are at the heart of LinkedIn’s power – they literally link you with other people. It’s critical to use the invitation functionality appropriately. When possible (and admittedly, LinkedIn doesn’t always make it easy), customize your invitations to remind the person you’re trying to connect with how you know one another.
When connecting with a person you don’t know at all, it is critical to personalize the invitation request. You don’t want to be THAT person who is an invitation spammer.
7: Become a LinkedIn Blogger
Everyone can now blog on LinkedIn, which is super cool. In fact, my team publishes our posts from this very blog on LinkedIn to gain additional exposure. As you begin to carve out your professional identity and expertise, LinkedIn blogs are a great way to gain some thought leadership momentum.
Also, share news and articles that interest you – become an active member in the LinkedIn community.
Pro Tip: Ultimate LinkedIn Cheat Sheet
If you’re looking to fully optimize your LinkedIn profile, I highly recommend checking out the Ultimate LinkedIn Cheat Sheet.