By John Mark Ivey
When LinkedIn launched back in 2003, I bet few businesspeople had any idea what potential impact the site would or could have on their careers. With 500 million users and 10 million job listings, it’s hard to imagine a time when LinkedIn wasn’t around. I know it’s difficult especially for me.
I was never a fan of Monster.com and other job sites of yesteryear where you essentially dumped your resume and waited for the right opportunity to come around. LinkedIn is certainly not a dumping ground for your resume.
Love Your LinkedIn Profile Because Google Does
I remember the moment I Googled myself (you know you do it too) and my LinkedIn profile was the top result. I tweet a lot so I figured my Twitter account or my blog would be first. Nope. Google placed more importance on my LinkedIn profile. As LinkedIn took steps to become more of a networking site and became the social network of choice of career-minded people, I embraced it and soon part of my day-to-day job was helping my company and fellow employees make better use of the site.
Having been around longer than Twitter and Facebook but not nearly as popular, LinkedIn has been adept at adding features to keep up with other social sites like a newsfeed, skills and endorsement features, and a recent reboot of LinkedIn groups. Being owned by Microsoft probably doesn’t hurt them keep up either.
It’s clear Google favors LinkedIn when it comes to search results, so 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—because they are. If your LinkedIn profile comes up first, then you want to make sure it’s up-to-date and reflects you or at least the you you want out there on the web.
At the training company I work for, one of my social media management tasks is to counsel employees, especially potential influencers and product evangelists, on how to network better on LinkedIn. Here are 8 tips to help you improve your LinkedIn profile:
1. Give Good Face
The first impression is your photo—that’s the first thing that pops up when someone searches for a LinkedIn profile. Make sure it looks professional and make sure it’s a recent photo. That photo your frat brother took of you from a tailgating party last fall is wicked awesome, but not for LinkedIn. For professionals further removed from college, if someone hasn’t said it yet, you should know better.
2. Start Telling Your Story in the Headline
Most folks think your profile headline has to be your job title. That’s not necessarily true. A little extra attention here will make you stand out from the rest. If you want to be a LinkedIn pro, customize your LinkedIn headline to align with your LinkedIn goals, especially if your current job title isn’t a true representation of what you do every day. I recommend you treat it like a news article headline, capture a reader’s attention. Can you get your elevator pitch down to eight words? If so, then you have your new LinkedIn profile headline. Instead of “Network Admin,” there’s nothing wrong with “IT Solutions Provider/Cloud Computing Expert“ or ”Assist 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. 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. Also, take a look at using part of your company’s goals or “boilerplate.” Chances are it’s a well-thought out, well-written paragraph of what your company, and you, are doing or striving to do every day.
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. If you have an existing lengthy profile, reconsider what action you want visitors to take upon reading it. Whichever direction you decide to go, you are more likely to successfully speak to your target audience if you make it worth their while.
5. Know Your Keywords
Keywords are the fuel for any search to be effective. I interact primarily with IT professionals, so terms like cloud computing, cybersecurity, malware and blockchain show up often in content I share. Make sure you know the keywords in your industry, and make sure they appear in your summary and job descriptions. If this doesn’t help your Google search, at the least it will improve your LinkedIn search results. Last year, there were billions of LinkedIn people searches. If you haven’t updated your profile with keywords lately, now seems to be a perfect time.
6. Get Personal
LinkedIn’s personal update feed, which is similar to Facebook and Twitter, appears when users first log in to LinkedIn, so make it good. What I like most about the LinkedIn personal update is that when someone comments 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 to peers in your network. The video option is also a tool you can experiment with to instantly make your feed more personal. If you really want to keep it simple, just say what you’re doing, like “Preparing my presentation for next week’s event in Chicago” 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.
But don’t get too personal
LinkedIn is not Facebook. It’s a platform for professionals. Act how you would at work.
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 currently work for a company that offers Salesforce, Red Hat and Google Cloud training. Did I forget to connect with execs from those companies through my LinkedIn profile? No, I did not.
BONUS - 8. Obligatory Training Tip
I work for a training company so I was bound to write about learning eventually. One of the most under-used features I notice on LinkedIn profiles tends to be the Education section. Sure, you’ve got your college degree on there, but there’s room for so much more. Have you taken a class with Global Knowledge that would be of interest to a potential employer? Or have you recently obtained or started working toward an IT or business certification? Add it to your profile by clicking the “+” sign beside the Education section. You can add Global Knowledge or any of our learning partners in the “School” field. Then you can place the class you took or certification you achieved in the “Degree” field. You can even upload a PDF of your completion certificate to validate your achievement. LinkedIn also allows you to add the year you took the class or the year you expect to finish the certification process. Don’t underestimate the potential influence relevant training can have on a visitor to your profile.
What to do next? If you’re on LinkedIn, search yourself on Google (it’s perfectly fine) and let me know where your LinkedIn profile ranks. To this day, I am still curious about other’s results.