More often than not, people tend to form their first impression of you from the results of a web search on your name. When people are evaluating you in a professional capacity, they often go to your LinkedIn profile. What does your profile say about you? Does it stand out from the crowd? Most importantly, does is project a professional image?
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a platform where professionals, recruiters and business owners connect and form networks. LinkedIn not only acts as a tool which can assist you secure employment; but also acts as enabler in building extraordinary business relationships. Put simply, LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals.
LinkedIn is for you if:
– you are keen to explore future career options;
– you want to connect with other professionals (within and outside of your industry); and
– want to take your professional life to the next level
My LinkedIn profile has been active for a couple of years now, and I am pleased that it has strengthened and improved over the years. I am learning daily, however, and I tweak it as and when necessary.
I have observed a few ‘shortcomings’ on my peers’ profiles, which is what prompted me to share my views on this matter.
First things first, after adding the relevant demographic and career information, add a professional display picture or image of yourself.
I have seen a few profiles with misaligned display pictures, wedding photographs, poorly captured selfies etc. Remember, LinkedIn is a professional networking site, and image is everything.
I can bet my bottom dollar that when people are scrolling through your LinkedIn profile, your avatar is one of the first things they will look at.
Some personal branding experts suggest investing in a professionally photographed headshot that projects you in the most positive and powerful light. They further suggest that full body shots should be avoided, and rather let viewers see your face. Therefore a headshot is recommended.
Having a good display picture on LinkedIn says something about you. It says that you are not only professional, but you care about your public image.
ADDITIONAL TIPS ON HOW TO EFFECTIVELY USE LinkedIn:
Update your professional headline
The professional headline is the line that appears immediately below your name at the top of the profile. It’s one of the first things visitors to your page will see.
Is your professional headline up to date?
LinkedIn populates the headline with your current job title and company by default when you add your details for the first time. Since this information already appears in “Experience” for your current job, you need not repeat this information; you can customize it however.
Customizing your headline shows how you stand out from others who have the same job title as yours and use similar keywords.
Also important to note is that when you change jobs the professional headline does not change. Therefore, it is important to keep it updated.
Your headline should briefly describe what you are all about (career prospects and future goals etc.).
Judy Schramm, specialist in Social Media Presence for Entrepreneurs and CEOs, shares the following advice:
A good headline tells others what you do and what benefit they get from working with you. It represents your core values, expertise and personal branding. Still some use their job title because it describes the various things they do within the 120-character limit.
Here are a few things to consider when creating your winning headline:
1. Three or four keywords that represent what you do.
2. Three or four keywords others use when needing your services.
3. How are you different from others with the same job title?
4. Identify what decision-makers care about when they hire someone like you.
5. Be specific and use a human voice.
Here are some real headlines:
– Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Consultant | NY Times Best Seller | “Book title” | Motivating & Inspiring Worldwide
– Online Strategy * Interactive Marketing * Content Management * User Experience * Web Analytics
– Helping organizations get more from their digital interaction
Delete irrelevant endorsements
Delete endorsements for skills that you don’t want to be known for; they are of no benefit to you.
“Personal branding is about being known for SOMEthing, not 10,000 things. That means you need to make your skills pure — positioning you for what’s next, not creating confusion among readers. “Is this person a marketing exec or a real-estate agent?” Make a list of all skills that are relevant to who you are and where you’re going without looking at your LinkedIn profile.”, says William Arruda, Personal Branding expert.
“Then, take a look at the skills for which you have been endorsed. Is there a strong correlation? And make sure your top three skills perfectly reflect how you want to be known. Those are the ones that show up prominently when someone is looking at your profile”, he adds.
Steer clear of third-person writing
I have seen this style of writing on a few profiles, and at some stage wanted to apply it to mine. The reality is, most people write their own LinkedIn summaries; and we are all well aware of that. Unless of course you have a Publicist who does this for you.
“It’s much more transparent and direct to write in the first person than to pretend that your publicist or someone else wrote your content. When you write in the first person, you create a conversation between you and the reader, and that helps you establish a more authentic relationship with them, says William.
Exclude experience that distracts from your brand aspirations
Many of you may not know this, but my very first job (apart from working as a part-time, unpaid waitress at my dad’s restaurant), was as a Data Capturer at a Logistics company. My time in this role was very short as it was a 5 month contract. This role is not on my LinkedIn profile, nor is it on my CV. This is a deliberate move as this role does not tie or feed into my personal brand or brand aspirations.
Granted, it is important to show progression in your career, so this approach may not necessarily be suitable to everyone.
Upgrading to a Premium LinkedIn Account
Many people can do just fine with a free LinkedIn account, but if you’re serious about using LinkedIn and all of its most advanced features, you can upgrade to premium. There are certain advanced features available to Premium subscribers only, which I guess makes this option appealing.
There’s a cost associated with this type of subscription, you may want to take that into consideration when upgrading. LinkedIn has premium plans in place for users who want to opt for this option.
Personally, the basic account suits me. I therefore don’t think it’s necessary to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium at this stage.
As a final note, don’t forget to take advantage of LinkedIn’s mobile app. The app is available for free on both iOS and Andoid, and is quite user-friendly.
Until next time, love and light.