By John Mark Ivey
I admit it. I Google myself. No, I'm not vain. Okay, maybe a little. Even so, I'm always curious to see the ranking Google gives sites I'm on, such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogspot, Blog Talk Radio (yeah, I'm as surprised as you are), and LinkedIn.
I was even more surprised to find that my LinkedIn profile was at the top of the list of my Google search results. If you're on LinkedIn, search yourself on Google and let me know where your LinkedIn profile ranks. I'm curious.
LinkedIn has been around longer than Twitter and Facebook, but that can't be the only criteria Google used to give an advantage to LinkedIn profiles in their search results. More likely, it's the professional nature of LinkedIn as opposed to the more personal, leisurely nature of the majority of Facebook posts and tweets.
Since Google favors LinkedIn when it comes to search results, keep that in mind if you're networking or job hunting. If a potential employer considers you for a position, don't think they aren't Googling you too. If your LinkedIn profile comes up first, then you certainly want to make sure it's up-to-date.
At the training company I work for, one of my social media management tasks is to counsel various departments on how to network properly on LinkedIn. Here are a few of those tips to help you improve your LinkedIn profile:
1. Give Good Face
The first impression anyone searching for a LinkedIn profile gets is from the photo that pops up with your profile headline. Make sure it's a recent photo. Make sure it looks professional. That photo your frat brother took of you from the tailgating party last fall is awesome, but not for LinkedIn.
2. Think Headline
Most folks think your profile headline has to be your job title. That's not necessarily true. I suggest you treat it like a headline, just like LinkedIn calls it. Can you get your elevator pitch down to eight words? If so, then you have your new LinkedIn profile headline. Instead of "East Coast Sales Manager," there's nothing wrong with "IT Solutions Provider/Cloud Computing Expert" or "Assists Fortune 500 Companies with IT Solutions" as long as it's a true statement.
3. Back Up the Headline
You have your headline, now tell the story behind it. If you can't boast about yourself, who will, right? But you don't want to come off like a chest-pounder. Just state the facts clearly and concisely like a good news story. Include the Who, What, Where, When, and, most importantly, How. If you want to stand out, don't simply list your job description. Make it compelling, yet truthful. Make me want to network with you or hire you.
4. Know Your Audience
If you're a networker, then write your summary and job descriptions like a networker. If you're looking for a job, then write your summary and job descriptions for potential employers. You can't have it both ways.
5. Know Your Keywords
Keywords are the fuel for any search that you expect to go the distance. I deal with folks in the IT world, so terms like cloud computing, cybersecurity, malware, and virtualization show up often. Make sure you know the keywords in your industry, and make sure they appear in your summary and job descriptions. If that doesn't help your Google search, at the least it will improve your LinkedIn search results. Last year, there were 2 billion LinkedIn people searches. If you haven't updated your profile with keywords lately, now seems to be a perfect time.
6. Get Personal
LinkedIn instituted a personal update feed similar to Facebook and Twitter feeds. The LinkedIn personal update feed appears when folks first log in to LinkedIn, so make it good. One thing I love about the LinkedIn personal update is that when someone comments on it or "likes" it, the update appears at the top of the feed again, even if it's days old. That's another reason to make it good. Your LinkedIn personal update could be as simple as a piece of advice or a question of folks in your industry. If you really want to keep it simple, just say what you're doing, like "Preparing my presentation for next week's event in Orlando" or "Looking forward to meeting with Soandso Inc today." You'll be surprised how often folks will comment on your updates, especially if you travel to their city or mention their company.
7. You Dropped Something
Don't be afraid to name drop. Early in my career, I worked on projects for RCA, Toshiba, Muzak, and ACE Hardware. Did I forget to mention those on my LinkedIn profile? No, I did not. Luckily, I work for a company that offers Cisco, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware training. Did I forget to connect with execs from those companies through my LinkedIn profile? No, I did not.