If there’s one social media platform that I can pretty much guarantee will help you build your professional network, it’s LinkedIn.
In case you’re newer to LinkedIn, here are a few basic facts:
- LinkedIn is a social media platform designed exclusively for professionals – your profile consists of your resume and other career related information.
- LinkedIn has over 200 million users. (1)
- The average user is 44 years old. (2)
- LinkedIn is used primarily by older, male professionals to market themselves. (3)
- 59 percent of users are male. (4)
- 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions. (5)
- 64 percent of LinkedIn members say LinkedIn helps them develop relationships and grow new business. (6)
- 92 percent of business to business (B2B) journalists use LinkedIn. (7)
Photo Credit: Team 29 Born to be Wild
Now that you have the basic scoop on the awesomeness of LinkedIn, how do you take advantage of it? The first thing to do is make sure your profile is filled out completely and correctly. Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn! (7) A profile is broken down by sections and each section is important to pay attention to and fill out completely. I’m going to walk you through each section and provide some tips on how to best take advantage of that section.
Name, Headline, Location, Photo, Contact Info:
This section of your profile is arguably the most important because it contains all the necessary information about who you are, your current job title, where you live, and how to get in touch with you. LinkedIn has designed the profile page in such a way that our eyes are drawn to this section, so pay attention to it. The first step in having a successful profile is to have a great profile photo. So get your cameras out and start taking some head shots!
Name, and Location are pretty straightforward but Headline and Contact Info aren’t as simple. The important thing to remember for picking your Headline is that you want something that accurately represents you, but also stands out a bit. If you’re an accountant and simply make your headline, “Accountant” it’s not very memorable and you won’t show up very high in search results. Try and come up with something like, “Business Services Accountant.” This headline highlights the fact that you do business to business work and differentiates you a bit from other accountants.
Now let’s take a closer look at Contact Info. This section lists the way that people can connect with you, including your email, phone number, address, website, social media profiles, and blog. I recommend listing your email, website, social media profiles and blog, if relevant. Note that you can modify the way your website is displayed by selecting “Other” and entering custom text.
The second most important section – and by far the most challenging – is the Summary section. In this section you write a summary of your career to date. After glancing at your basic bio information, people will then scroll down and read your Summary because this gives them a qualitative sense of who you are and what you’re about.
This section is really the only place on LinkedIn where you get to tell your story, so take advantage of it! Share with people how you started your career, where you are now, what you’re passionate about in your work, and what makes you different from everyone else. Try and end your Summary with a call to action, such as, “To take advantage of the wonderful customer service that we offer, pick up the phone and give us a call today.” To get your juices flowing, here are some good questions to ask yourself when preparing your LinkedIn Summary:
- How did you end up in your current position?
- What decisions or life events brought you to work in your current industry?
- What are you passionate about in your work?
- What are your goals for your company?
- What are your professional goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Here is a wonderful resource from CBS News that gives some great tips on how to prepare your LinkedIn Summary Section, along with some good examples.
The Experience section is the true resume portion of your profile. This is where you fill out the positions that you’ve held in the past as well as the position you hold presently. Most people do a good job of filling out this section, but they often forget to add a description for each position that they’ve held. The description should only be a few sentences – unless you’ve held the position for a very long time – and should highlight your job responsibilities, as well as the skills and expertise required to do your job well. Be as specific as possible for each description so that people come away knowing what you do on a day-to-day basis for each position listed.
Depending on your industry, the degree you hold, and where you went to school, this section can be pivotal to your overall profile. For example, in my industry – social media – education isn’t as significant. Because there are only a few degrees out there in social media, and they’re very new, what matters most for my clients is my level of expertise. Because of this, I have my Education section towards the bottom of my profile. However, if you’re an engineer and have a Master’s Degree from a prestigious university for example, you would probably want to bump the Education section up so that it’s right under your Experience section. The more people have to scroll to see something, the less likely they are to see it, so if your Education section isn’t very strong or isn’t relevant for your industry, push it towards the bottom.
Skills & Expertise:
Because of LinkedIn Endorsements, the Skills & Expertise section is a great way to highlight what your unique skills and areas of expertise are. When adding your skills and areas of expertise, be sure to only list things that you really are an expert in, and be as specific as possible.
There are several other optional sections that you can display on your profile. Depending on your unique situation, these various sections can be very useful in providing a more well-rounded sense of who you are and what you have to offer. Here’s a full list:
- Certifications – Certifications, licensures, or clearances you’ve attained.
- Courses – Adding your body of coursework can help your education to stand out.
- Honors & Awards – Show off your hard-earned awards.
- Languages – Languages you understand or speak.
- Organizations – List the organizations or associations you’ve been a part of along with your role.
- Patents – Any patents you’ve applied for or received.
- Publications – Publications that have featured your work.
- Projects – Showcase the projects you’ve worked on, along with team members.
- Skills & Expertise – A relevant list of skills on your profile will help others to understand your strengths and improve your ability to be found when opportunities present themselves. Your connections can endorse these skills.
- Test Scores – List your scores on tests to highlight high achievement.
- Volunteering & Causes – Organizations you support, and causes you care about.
- Additional Information – Interests, personal details like your birthday or marital status, and advice for people who want to contact you.
LinkedIn is a wonderful social media platform for professionals, and the good news is that after you’ve completely filled out everything you can feel comfortable being a bit more static with your profile. But remember to login to your profile at least once a week to see if you have any new invitations to connect, or new messages.
Personally, whenever I exchange business cards with someone, I try and connect with them via LinkedIn within 48 hours. This helps to solidify the connection I made with them in person and makes it easier for them to remember me because they can look at my profile at any time to jog their memory. If you’re someone who loses business cards, or forgets to connect with people on LinkedIn, I recommend the app Cardmunch. Simply take a picture of the business card you just received, they transcribe it and then find the individual on LinkedIn for you! It’s super slick.
Good luck with your LinkedIn profiles! Please post any questions or comments below.