Optimising your LinkedIn profile #nmbrek
Thursday morning I had the pleasure of attending my first New Media Breakfast in Edinburgh with the topic this month being LinkedIn, presented by Gordon White from fatbuzz in Glasgow. While it required me to get out of bed much earlier than usual (and fill myself to the brim with coffee), I was intrigued about how we could further harness LinkedIn to be much more than just a glorified professional address book.
The biggest take away I had from the presentation was the strong focus on optimising your profile. These days it’s almost easier to hand out your LinkedIn address before you hand in a CV. This is as it should be a greater representation of yourself, along with recommendations and endorsements without having to check with references. I’ll admit, my profile isn’t at the level I’d like it to be, but with the suggestions Gordon made today, I’ll be sure to get it updated as soon as I can.
With these tips fresh in my mind, I bring you 8 top tips for optimising your LinkedIn profile. One thing to keep in mind is that it’s important that you frequently update your profile, not just when you may be looking for a new job. As you are a representation of your current company as well as yourself. Potential clients may scan through employees before contacting a company directly to work with, and if everyone’s profiles are a mess, or are possibly not representing a company pride, they may move on.
1. Profile picture
They say a first impression can be made in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone. Naturally, people will look at your profile picture first, and, no matter what your profession may be, the rule of thumb is to keep your profile picture from the shoulders up. Also make sure your photo only includes yourself (I’d say obviously, but you’d be surprised what people put up!). Try to avoid fancy dress, and keep it business minded. Like a dating site, you wouldn’t want to put a photo up of yourself from 20 years ago, only to show up on the date (or in this case, job interview) looking a whole new person. This can throw up immediate unnecessary trust barriers for you to overcome with the interviewers that could have easily been avoided.
2. Professional headline
This line of text (I believe you have approximately 200 characters) is there to showcase you in a nutshell. While it defaults to your most recent job title, you are able to optimise it to include a bit more about who you are and what you can do for people (more about that later). As a good rule of best practice, try to get the important stuff into the first 68 characters, as that is what the mobile app is optimised to show without getting cut off. When you click on to edit, you are provided the option to check out what other people in your industry are using for theirs, in case you need a little more inspiration.
3. Contact Info
This one is a no-brainer. If this information isn’t kept up to date then, aside from sending a LinkedIn message, people will not be able to get in contact with you. Moreso if you are currently a job seeker, even if your profile is engaging and screams “hire me!”, if recruiters or potential employers can’t get a hold of you directly quickly and easily, they will likely simply move on to the next person in the stack. Make sure this info is updated, and always make sure you include a “professional” email address.
While you may think this is the area to talk all about your current position and rave about how much you love your company, this is really the place to let your personality shine and sell YOURSELF, not your employer. Optimise your summary with keywords that you believe are relevant to your skills and strengths, and you’ll create a more searchable and engaging profile. A great suggestion from Gordon is to include a section on What I can do for you. While your summary is about you, it’s important to come across modest and show that you aren’t just bringing a list of skills, you are considerate of the value you can add to an organisation. That’s more of what an employer wants to hear as opposed to a bullet list of talents.
Overall, keep the summary personal, as you want to sell yourself with personality; don’t make it a pitch. You are also able to, if you are so inclined, to include a video or slideshare of past achievements or even to detail further the information you included in the summary. It gives viewers an idea of your personality and may endear yourself further than just words on a page.
Keep your descriptions short and sweet, but remember to use your previously mentioned keywords and showcase your skills as best you can (what I can do for you). Again, keep it conversational and engaging, and make sure to include any exciting achievements or projects that you can attach via the Add Media section.
Let your personality come through here, too. While you’ll want to include professional interests to keep things streamlined with the rest of your profile, now is the time to mention if you perhaps enjoy a round of golf, have an interest in arts and crafts, or spend every holiday from work travelling to exotic locations. This is where employers might relate to you and may make notes based on your “fit” to a company based on your hobbies and interests.
7. Charities & Volunteer Experience
Again, this is a huge no brainer. If you are involved in any charities or volunteer organisations, make sure you include them in these sections. This can show a lot about a person (don’t get scared if you don’t have experience in this, but showing interest can be helpful!) and employers tend to appreciate and favour people who show an active interest in their community or beneficial not for profit organisations.
8. Skills & Endorsements
As Gordon referred to it, the Skills section is like a personal trip advisor. When a viewer visits this part of a page, it’s almost as if they are speaking to your references directly. It gives a great snapshot (or in the case of the written endorsements, a direct view) of how others view you and your skill set, which is a great thing to display on your page. Also, for an extra tip, the best way to get endorsements is to endorse others! LinkedIn is quite good at making suggestions, and when they get the notification that you have endorsed them, they ask if they’d like to endorse you back! In the end, like a reference, it never hurts to ask!
The session was so full of information, I definitely feel like another post will come of it. To finish up, here are a few more quick tips to further harness the power of your LinkedIn profile.
- Join and follow groups – Join and follow groups that are relevant to your interests and career desires and make use of LinkedIn’s intuitive algorithm to discover new groups in your area of expertise.
- Share content – By posting updates via your profile, LinkedIn Pulse and to your groups, you will become a much more active user and likely increase your chances, pending your posts are viewed as appropriate (not spammy), of appearing for relevant searches. It also exhibits more about you or your company and their interests which may be an attractive point for potential employers or clients alike.
- As a company, follow client pages – It’s a great way to show that you are taking an interest in your clients and it keeps you on top of any changes within the organisation. If they follow you back, and you post a lot of content from your company page, it also gives your clients a glimpse of your views and standards as an organisation.
- LinkedIn is beginning to turn into a great publishing platform, which people and companies alike can use to build their content marketing efforts upon.
- While they may have you believe that the best times to post new content is between the hours of 9-5 Monday to Friday, the reality appears to be that weekend mornings are the best time to get the most engagement. (Unless social media is your job, you are most likely not sitting on LinkedIn during office hours, right?!)
- The analytics for LinkedIn are actually quite intuitive and can give you a great idea of whether or not the people you are hoping to target are seeing/engaging your content.
For a first impression of the New Media Breakfast, I really feel as though they are a great resource for new and interesting information (the coffee and breakfast rolls didn’t hurt, either). The next one in Edinburgh is scheduled for Thursday, April 14th and the topic is the much-requested Pay-Per-Click Advertising. As this is one of Attacat’s specialities, our own MD, Tim Barlow, and PPC superstar, Andrew Morgan, will be presenting! This will be one you don’t want to miss, so head over to the New Media Breakfast site to get your ticket booked now! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get over to LinkedIn to do some updating!
Do you use LinkedIn for personal or professional use? Do you have any additional tips for optimising your profile or making the best use of it? Leave your comments below, and don’t forget to share with your friends and colleagues via your social media platforms!