With all the push and media pointing at Facebook with around 900 million active monthly users why would anyone consider being on any other network? The quick answer is when it comes to a professional business network LinkedIn is king even with its 255 million active monthly users. You won't find any games on LinkedIn but individuals that are focused on growing their business network. Whether this information is for personal growth, searching for a job, looking to hire or get answers from peers to a current business problem. LinkedIn is the place to get answers related to your personal persona.
Preparation is Key
Employers, businesses, peers, etc. don't know who you are. Now is the time to prepare just as you did for a school test. We all know most people don't like tests, we for one don't, but that doesn't mean you can just create a profile and people will come. It is important that you consider the most important items that you should include in your profile. As you build your LinkedIn profile you need to think about who you want your target audience to be. What words or keyword phrases that they might type in to increase your visibility to them.
In terms of being on LinkedIn you need to know dates. Dates are important. You need to know employment dates, school dates, volunteer dates, etc. Anything that has a date you want to know and gather as it will be paramount in having accurate information. A prime place for people to target is your latest resume. For some it may be their last several resumes as each resume may have been tuned for each employer you were prospecting to.
One item we always do when helping our client build a LinkedIn profile that is great is to use those keywords and phrases that they feel are important and actually search on them. Did the system return the desired results? Are we able to be in the top of those results or will we just be another number within all of the results? Are the people and businesses that show up in the results the type that I want to be associated with? Having all of this knowledge in hand you are now ready to start moving forward with your professional profile.
Component of a LinkedIn Profile
This part of your profile appears directly under your name. It's a one or two sentence summary of who you are or what you do. Use your key phrase(s) here, but construct it so your title makes sense. This is essentially who you are or who you'd like to be. For a complete detail breakdown on setting up a perfect LinkedIn Headline view our blog post Perfect LinkedIn Headlines.
Your summary allows you to create a free-form description of your experience, expertise and your objectives. There are two sections - Professional Experience & Goals, and Specialties. Make sure this area is well written using proper grammar and is typo-free. This area should showcase you you're your absolute best foot forward. This is your true first impression for those that do not know who you are. Use short paragraphs with just one or two sentences each.
This is NOT a place you want to write a novel. DO use your key phrases in this area wherever appropriate. The text that you write should be human readable and read very well. Try to keep your summary punchy, to-the-point and interesting. List each specialty on a separate line. Use dashes, asterisks or plus signs to start each line so it looks like a bulleted list.
As we said in the beginning LinkedIn is not Facebook, so having a photo of you holding a glass of wine is a no-no. Neither should you feel that you have to put your passport photo up. Choose a good headshot with a neutral/inoffensive background. You want to be personable and yet professional. People will make assumptions based on your photos so you might as well make it a good one. This is not the place for a selfie!
LinkedIn allows you to create a rather lengthy online resume with your current and previous work experience listed. Be honest, but don't be afraid to work in your key phrases in this area. Also keep in mind, that if you are currently active in more than one position - say you offer consulting services part-time, but you also work for an accounting firm, the position you list with the most recent start date will appear at the top of your employment list. If you want your consulting business to appear first, the start date you indicate (say, May 2013) needs to be later than the start date for your accounting job (say March 2013).
Use your official job title (if you have one) but include your key phrases when outlining your experiences and (better yet) successes. Keep your descriptions easy to read - use short sentences and then press the enter key to insert a line break. Use asterisks or + signs to make it look like a bulleted list. The goal is to keep your readers engaged so they don't want to leave right away without finding out more about you.
Since your LinkedIn profile is an online resume, this area is important if formal education is expected for what you do and how you want to be perceived. Although education can mean many things to many business professions. This could be formal schooling like a university or community college or a technical or trade school. Taking the time to fill out this section can make your profile stand out and it can also help you gain connections by putting you in contact with former classmates and fellow alumni.
Just as it is with a paper resume, you'll want to consider adding information that can help make your profile stand out. Within your LinkedIn profile, you can add a photo of yourself, link to your Twitter account, your websites, and awards you've won. You can also include your interests. Just don't list anything you wouldn't want a potential customer or employer to know about or you wouldn't want to be public information. Keep your LinkedIn profile professional.
You can include up to 3 links plus a link to your Twitter profile. The default text might be "My Website" or "My Company". Instead, when you're adding links, select "Other" in the websites section. This allows you to create custom text for you link, such as "Valparaiso Freelance Writer Site", if you were targeted freelance writer as your phrase. Many people make the mistake of accepting the default for these links, which does nothing for getting them found in LinkedIn or on the web.
After you have established a LinkedIn profile and have built up some LinkedIn connections in your network, ask for recommendations from people who are familiar with your professional skills. The right recommendations can help your profile stand out and they might help you land more work. One of the best ways to get recommendations is to first write a LinkedIn recommendation for someone. During that process, the person you recommend will be asked to write one for you.
To see how your LinkedIn profile looks to the public, click the link next to Public Profile on the Edit My Profile page.
Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Up to Date
Creating a LinkedIn profile is an easy undertaking, but it can prove to be more important to your at-home business than you may realize. Since this online resume is available around the clock to potential connections and even possible employers or clients, you will want to make sure it shines. You'll also want to make sure it's up-to-date. In fact, each time you update your LinkedIn profile, those in your network will be notified.
View My LinkedIn Profile and Connect
You can view my LinkedIn profile as an example. If you want to invite me to join your LinkedIn network, indicate that you are a Home Business reader in your invitation so I can give your request the proper attention it deserves.
Personalize your LinkedIn profile web address for your LinkedIn profile. Rather than having a cryptic URL that is hard to read you can customize your URL so that it is more easily understood. This helps people find you and be more memorable. Additionally, you can use this URL to further reach people by having your keyword in your vanity URL.
Ensure you have a "Fully Completed Profile"
LinkedIn says your profile will appear 40 times more in search results if it is "complete." In other words, you will be open 40 times more than others if your profile is complete. Here is LinkedIn's definition of a 100% Complete Profile:
- Your industry and location
- An up-to-date current position (with a description)
- Two past positions
- Your education
- Your skills (minimum of 3)
- A profile photo
- At least 50 connections
With the above done you are on your way to taking control of your professional LinkedIn profile. This is the first step, of many, to expanding your business circle. This does take time to setup but is well worth your time and any expense to get yourself there. We have helped several people take a good profile and turn it into a great profile. We've help take a no profile and started them off with a great profile as well. The time it takes will vary from a couple of hours for someone just starting out their professional career to longer with someone with a lot of history to put into the system. Anticipate three to four hours at a minimum to get your profile fully started. If you would like assistance in setting up your professional LinkedIn profile we are here to help at , firstname.lastname@example.org or through our online form here.