LinkedIn is a great social platform for professionals and business owners. In fact, it is by far the world’s largest professional network. This makes it an incredibly important tool for a wide range of individuals across every sector. Your personal LinkedIn profile can serve numerous purposes and it should be something that you’re both really proud of and something you’re using regularly.
LinkedIn should prove to be a lean, mean lead-generation machine if used correctly so we’ve compiled a short LinkedIn tips checklist to ensure you’re getting more out of your presence.
LinkedIn Profile Tips
1. Utilise your ‘professional headline‘
By default, LinkedIn puts your headline as your position and company, i.e. ‘Managing Director at JC Social Media’. Note, however, that this space allows you up to 120 characters to write whatever you like so if you’re leaving it like that, you could be missing an opportunity. Think of your headline as more of a strapline and use it to really articulate what you do. You can still include your title and company, if necessary. Here are some good examples:
Andrew Ward of Scorchsoft‘s headline:
“►Internet of things ► Cloud solutions ►Web app development ►Mobile applications ►Digital strategy ►MD @ Scorchsoft”
This bullet point style header can be useful if your business offers a number of related but discreet services or you have a number of areas of expertise.
Jodie Cook’s profile reads:
“Social media marketing | Entrepreneurial education | Author | Forbes30under30”
The most important thing is that someone who doesn’t know anything about you can read this snippet of text and immediately understand which fields you operate in and what kind of expertise you have. You don’t need to fill all 120 characters – it’s a limit, not a goal! LinkedIn will sometimes shorten this line (in the ‘people you might know’ section, for example) so ensure the first 50-60 characters explain the important stuff!
Things to avoid in your professional headline:
Being too vague – ‘entrepreneur’, ‘manager’ or ‘designer’ don’t tell people enough information.
Using jargon or ambiguous terms – examples include ‘enabler’, which could mean anything, or ‘CRO specialist’ – those who know what CRO is probably don’t need to hire one. Put things in terms that show you can communicate with people effectively, try “improving your bottom line by making your site convert its visitors” in the case of the CRO.
The overuse of symbols – symbols do have their place – they’re more eye-catching and clearer than full stops but don’t go over the top. It might suggest you’re more interested in the way things look than real substance or that you have too much time on your hands. A great compromise is the | symbol. Not too flashy and a more visual breaker than a full stop.
Over Using Capital Letters – we have a really bad culture of capitalising the start of every letter in almost anything, these days. Capitalising your position is fine as well as proper nouns, of course. But apart from these, stick to lower case letters – Social Media Expert is so wrong it hurts my eyes.
2. Create your own profile URL
Not that many people have made use of LinkedIn’s tool that lets you customise your own profile URL. Your default URL will be something unsightly like www.uk.linkedin.com/in/your-name/33/54/83, but with a few clicks you can transform it into something wonderful like www.uk.linkedin.com/in/your-name or www.uk.linkedin.com/in/your-name-and-title. It will look far more professional when you use your LinkedIn profile as your online CV and direct people to it from your email signature or business card.
John Borthwick’s previous LinkedIn URL: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/john-borthwick/28/h79/32
John Borthwick’s current LinkedIn URL: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/johnborthwickuk
To achieve this for your own profile, click ‘edit profile’, ‘edit public profile, ‘Customise your public profile URL’, and choose a name. Keep it simple and clear – nothing you’re going to cringe at in 18 months time.
3. Don’t be anonymous, but don’t stalk
Stalking is strictly for Facebook. On LinkedIn, you have the choice of whether someone knows you have viewed their profile or not. Some people who don’t realise you can remain anonymous are actually put off viewing people’s profiles and even using the platform altogether. In reality, letting people know you have viewed their profile is a good thing:
LinkedIn profile viewing may be overtaking imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.
People like feeling important, valued and noticed. Keeping up to date with your connections’ updates can mean that the next time you run into them you chat for longer, and build up a rapport, and get started on a great business project with them… all because you took the time to see what they were up to. It’s also the perfect way of getting on the radar of a prospect or potential collaborator – there is even software out there that automatically views people’s LinkedIn profiles from your profile, just to get your name in front of them!
To ensure that you see when people are viewing your profile, and vice versa, go to ‘Settings’, select ‘See what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’, and tick ‘Your name and headline‘.
4. Get more recommendations
Recommendations on LinkedIn are really powerful. Virtually everything on your profile YOU have written and created and is completely unverified. Recommendations are the one place other people can create content for your profile, making you look infinitely more legitimate.
There is no secret to getting lots of great recommendations – you have to have done something worth being recommended for and then you have to ask for them! Your recommendations can come from your current and previous roles and there’s nothing wrong with exchanging recommendations with people who you’ve worked or collaborated with.
Two quick tips for getting more recommendations:
1. Give more recommendations – people are far more likely to give you a recommendation when they see you’ve given them before.
2. Pre-write them for busy people – if you’re trying to get a recommendation from someone really busy (often the case!) think about the work you did for them and what you’d like them to say. Write a couple of (non-gushing) lines that they can’t really argue with and send it to them with a link to your profile. Since you’ve gone through the hard work for them, they’re much more likely to actually go ahead and do it.
5. Choose a small number of key endorsements
Undoubtedly, endorsements look great. However, if recommendations and the pounds; endorsements are the pence! They’re very easy to give and LinkedIn frequently prompts you to endorse your connections. Is the fact someone has 25 endorsements for strategy rather than 50 going to stop you working with them? No.
Where most people go wrong:
Adding every single skill they could possibly be endorsed for, even variations on the same thing!
This is an issue for three reasons:
- You look like a Jack of all trades
- You’re diluting your endorsements across 20+ skills
- It’s unnecessary to have endorsements for ‘strategy’ and ‘business strategy’ and ‘strategy creation’
If you’re just starting out, start with five core skills you’d like endorsements for and ensure they don’t overlap too much. If you already have a strong base of endorsements, choose up to 10 skills and only add new ones once you have 99+ of some of your core ones!
6. Your past positions count
If your current position involves getting companies to hire you for your skills in creative marketing and PR, make sure that you demonstrate that you used related skills in your previous roles. This is about gaining credibility and demonstrating your transferable experience. Whether it’s anything from helping businesses save money, coaching or training individuals, or providing a customer service function; bring out those skills you have used in your previous role that mean you do your current role well. An example:
Ian Hartley’s LinkedIn profile: Existing role: helping SME’s to reduce the cost of their phone, broadband, mobile phones, gas and electricity bills at Utility Warehouse.
Transferable skills: making efficient use of resources, customer services, saving money.
Worcestershire County Council. Description:
“…my team and I dealt with all property emergencies; for example, flooding, fire damage etc, together with the minor projects. We took care to ensure that each project was completed to its maximum efficiency, and delivered a very good value service to our clients. We made sure that the systems in place were reliable and economical.”
It’s the attention to detail here that counts, and it builds up a picture of you as a professional in your chosen field. It also shows you’re committed to those goals and your current role isn’t just the flavour of the month!
Those are my six quick LinkedIn profile optimisation tips that anyone can implement quickly and easily to make the most out of their LinkedIn profile. I would encourage you to try them out and let me know the effects.
If you have any more quick LinkedIn tips please share them by commenting below.
Read more about LinkedIn training for you and your business here.
I also have released my first social media book which discusses many tips for LinkedIn, read about it here.