I need to repent.
At Social Media Marketing World 2017, I spoke from the stage in front of 500+ attendees and said “LinkedIn? Yeah – go update your resume. That’s all I’m going to say on that.”
**Groan.** I’m so very sorry.
I’ve since drunk the LinkedIn KoolAid. It seems that the social media platform for pros is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance. So… it’s cool, again, to take it seriously. After more questions from audiences, we recently added professional LinkedIn reviews to upendPR so we could empower our members in helping them impress influencers, media, and customers.
Improve Your Linkedin Profile
So… let’s talk LinkedIn. It’s that social media platform with more power ties than Facebook and less (but still some!) sleepy kitten videos than Snapchat.
You probably already knew this was an important space for job seekers and HR professionals. But a strong LinkedIn showing has also become vitally important for business owners and entrepreneurs as well.
Well, to answer that let’s start by just looking around. With more 400 million members worldwide, 1 out of 3 professionals in the United States can be found here. Those figures include everyone from the CEOs, thought leaders and media professionals you'd like to attract to the potential employees you'd like to hire and yes, even the customers you'd like to collect money from!
And not only are these people here but, more importantly, they are actually engaged! LinkedIn members tend to do be an ambitious lot and they are here to make connections and share knowledge! Add a crazy-powerful internal search engine and publishing capabilities that make it easy to create and share your content, and LinkedIn is now the biggest and best professional branding and networking platform around.
If you aren’t going big here, you are really missing out.
Said another way, this place is not just a resume depository anymore! In fact, what Facebook is to your personal brand, LinkedIn should be to your professional brand.
When done right, a LinkedIn profile can and will do at least three big things for you
- Bring in inbound sales leads
- Help you carve out expand credibility and authority within your chosen space
- And perhaps most importantly (from a PR perspective), provide a way for “real life” connections to vet and verify you. LinkedIn has incredibly valuable real estate on Google. When someone searches you, chances are your LI page will be among the top two results. This is actually great news as it allows YOU to drive the conversation about you.
All good stuff, right? Well, the key phrase here is “when done right.” And almost everyone can improve somehow.
So let’s start by taking a look at five simple things you can do right now to polish up your profile start building your presence on LinkedIn.
But before we get started I’m going to make one simple yet vital suggestion. When revamping your profile there will likely be lots of tinkering in your future. So head into your dashboard, head into Privacy and make sure “Sharing Profile Edits” is switched to off! This will save your connections from getting bombarded with alerts every time you make changes or add new information.
Now let’s get going, shall we….
1. Complete your Profile, Duh!
This tip seems ridiculously obvious, but according to Linked for Influence author Stephanie Sammons, a majority of LinkedIn members don't actually do it. Most people fill out the broad strokes but then get a little sloppy when it comes to details.
And it’s a wasted opportunity.
Search results within the site are tied to relevancy, so every interest you add, the professional group you are a member of in a video you post can boost your search results later on. According to internal research, those with completed profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities in the way of connections and referrals. So go back into your account, and fill out every last section in as much detail as you can muster. Really stretch to add as many accomplishments, skills and interests along volunteer experiences and internal LinkedIn groups as you can (the site allows you to join up to 50.)
When working through these sections, think of your skills and interests as a way to form your own narrative and tell others what you should be known for. And a little note about LinkedIn Groups. This space provides a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to “share content, find answers, post, and view jobs, make business contacts and establish themselves as industry experts.” They are definitely worth joining and spending some regular time within. It's one of the best and fastest ways for the entrepreneur to build authority and brand recognition within your chosen space. You can browse groups by keyword or start by looking around at the industry leaders you admire. What groups are they in? Start there.
2. Vanity is good
LI makes grabbing your “vanity” URL a relatively painless four-step process. It’s another simple thing many users overlook. Once you go through the trouble of creating a profile you are going to want to share it. But a string of random numbers and letters with a URL attached to a business card just doesn't have the same zing that your actual name does!
Of course, lock down your first and last name if possible (but it’s probably no longer possible). If you can’t, get as close as you can. If you are that unfortunate John Smith (although I've never actually met one in real life, I hear they’re quite popular) you are going to have to dig around and add something like your profession, business name, or city to the URL. Do you have a tagline or moniker that might fit in here somewhere? Try it. If all else fails, add a number to the end. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake millions of AOL users did and keep away from descriptors like sexy or foxy, those names will haunt you for decades!
3. Pics or it didn't happen
As those Head and Shoulders dandruff shampoo commercials from the 80s taught us, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Your LinkedIn profile pic is so vitally important because, unlike with Facebook, you aren't constantly updating new photos of yourself that display different aspects of your personality.
With your profile picture, you want to walk a fine line between authoritative professional someone could envision giving their time or money to, and approachable individual—a person with an actual personality.
The best way to do this is easy. Just smile in your photo! You aren’t a coal miner sitting for a photo portrait in the 1800s. Research has shown time and again that we humans are drawn to others that look warm and approachable, and the 1000 yard stare of a DMV photo doesn't often accomplish that.
On the other hand, keep your photo business casual and frame it from the shoulders up. And while it might work on Tinder, no one here wants to see you on a fishing boat holding up a striped bass. (On second thought, it probably won’t work on Tinder either).
Truthfully, the best tip I can offer in this department is to just go hire a professional to take the shots! They have the editing software that can make you look like a million bucks. But if you don't want to take it that far, just no selfies. And no having a selfie stick doesn't make it any better.
And… Background Please…
Also, please add a background photo to your profile. It’s a great way to visually capture your audience’s attention. This picture can be generic but, if you can find something that speaks to your professional personality or showcases your work environment or features your brand, then go for that!
Do you have a company or personal tagline or phrase that you’d like to hit your audience with? Use it as your background image! This is prime real estate. Just make sure the background images and the profile picture don't clash!
4.Media is your friend.
A picture tells a thousand words, but a video speaks them out loud for you. You really, really need to make an intro video. A simple video of around 2 minutes in length is a key piece of your profile and something most people skip. This is yet another chance to introduce yourself to your audience and tell your story. You can do anything from talking directly to your viewer into the camera (Hi, I’m Joe Schmo) or have someone off screen ask you a few questions faux-documentary style.
So here are some things to think about when working on this clip.
- Why do you do what you do?
- Where did your passion come from?
- Do you have a funny origin story?
- Do you have any funny or inspirational stories about working with clients (that are shareable to a public audience)
Dig deep here. A video is one of the best opportunities LinkedIn will give you to differentiate and sell yourself!
After you’ve made your first video and are feeling pretty confident, why not play on advanced mode and try and shoot some quick testimonials featuring clients. Do you have someone in mind who wouldn’t be participating? Think about clients you helped the most and have dynamic personalities. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask I they wouldn’t mind participating in a little low-budget feature for you.
Now think about where you can be using media and visuals to capture attention throughout your profile. One of the best places will likely be within your work experience section. The old newspaper dictates to “show not tell” still applies in the 21st Century. Instead of telling us about your work experience, do you have any links to papers you’ve written or others have written about you? Photos of workshops you put on? Videos of speaking engagements you can add here? Think a bit and remember, a photo is worth a thousand resume bullet points!
5.First things First
This tip is last but certainly not least. What you are selling on LinkedIn is really yourself! And you can't do that if the summary section of your profile sounds like it was written like a Wikipedia page. Chances are you, and not your personal biographer, are actually writing your LinkedIn profile. Third-person isn't fooling anyone. And in fact, it’s hurting you. Remember, your profile should have one major objective. And that’s to let your audience know who you are and why they should want to know you/meet you/do business with you.
Most people mistakenly believe that writing in third person will lend credibility and gravitas to their professional persona and draw people in. In reality, all it does is bore them. Remember our Facebook analogy. You wouldn't go on FB and type “Josh just had an amazing burger at Shake Shack. He also enjoyed the vanilla shake immensely.” You shouldn't do it on LinkedIn either.
Make sure you and I are connected on all the social medias – and you download my My 10 favorite PR tools to build authority & sales. I’m going to dig deeper into revealing the best strategies to tackle your summary section – and will email you when we have it done. It’s pretty critical to get this right. If you do nothing else today, going back and replacing your name and the he and she's with “I” or “we” will go a long way.
This should be more than enough homework to get you started. I’m going to say this one more time. Connect. With. Me. I don’t want you missing my future article and video where I tackle crafting a headline sure to get you noticed by the LinkedIn search engine. You’ll learn how to flip the script on your personal summary, turning it into a lean, mean client-facing machine that will engage your audience.
We offer professional LinkedIn reviews for our Gold members and above. Anytime you make updates to your LinkedIn, let us know. We’ll give you a very thorough review and tell you how your content plays with influencers who are checking you out. Your authority and influence makes all the difference when reaching out to investors, partners, and customers. LinkedIn can showcase your authority… big time.