Two people join LinkedIn every second of the day, and earlier this year LinkedIn announced it had reached 200 million users (on their About page, LinkedIn currently claims 259 Million users). If you haven’t looked at your LinkedIn profile in a while, it might be time to give it a polish!
Just in case you are not familiar, LinkedIn is the social media network designed specifically for your professional side. Think of LinkedIn as the place you house your “living resume” and a way to stay connected with colleagues you’ve met throughout your working life. This doesn’t mean you can’t connect with friends on LinkedIn; you can. But unlike Twitter or Facebook, you should only connect with people on LinkedIn that you’ve met through a professional context (for instance, I’ve connected with many of the folks I’ve met at conferences, but I am not connected to the people I knew in high school).
One critical thing to remember when updating your LinkedIn profile: DO NOT LIE. Don’t exaggerate, brag, or otherwise say anything that isn’t true about your professional experience because it will bite you on the @ss later. Really.
So are you ready to learn how you can make more out of LinkedIn and fine tune your profile? Here are ten tips to get you started! (Please forgive the photos from my own profile to demonstrate my tips, by the way.)
10 Tips for Improving Your LinkedIn Profile 1 of 11
Who Are You Trying To Reach? 2 of 11
All too often, we treat our LinkedIn profiles like just another social media profile that we "have" to have. But unlike most social networks, LinkedIn is strictly professional. You should treat it as a "living resume" that allows people to discover who you are professionally. So when you set up your profile you should ask yourself: who am I trying to reach? Am I job hunting? Seeking professional contacts? Growing my business? Know your goals when setting up your profile; it will help guide you during the process.
Vanity URL 3 of 11
A typical LinkedIn profile link includes a nightmarishly long string of numbers and letters. Thankfully, LinkedIn allows users to set up a custom vanity URL that you can use instead. Here's how. This step is critical, particularly if you are seeking work (especially if it's in a social media marketing area!) it looks far more professional in an email cover letter.
Is Your Profile Complete? 4 of 11
Completing every single area of your LinkedIn profile CAN take a while, but it's best to finish the job. Take a couple of hours and get it done. And really dig in deeply; just today I realized I hadn't added any of my publishing links to my profile, so even mine isn't fully complete. Later on today I'll be taking some time to fill out that section.
Profile Photo 5 of 11
The profile photo on every social media site is usually a place where you can show your fun side, your family, or your screaming face as you ride a rollercoaster. Not on LinkedIn. Here your photo needs to be recent, attractive, with you facing the camera head on. Your clothes should be professional (or at least not super casual, say, a tank top with spaghetti straps or that amusing photo of you wearing a beer sipping baseball hat). It is also okay to use a photo of you giving a presentation, although it's important to remember that the LinkedIn profile photo is on the small side.
Include Job Description 6 of 11
This is an important step you shouldn't skip! It's not enough to tell folks your job title; you need to also add the same sort of job description that you would use on a rÃ©sumÃ©. You can include successes in the description as well; for instance, at one position I increased press coverage and event attendance for the organization I worked for, so I include that in my job description.
Now, I stressed earlier that it's important not to lie but you can tweak your job descriptions to highlight the work you WANT to do now, and downplay elements you no longer consider part of your professional repertoire.
Your Headline 7 of 11
For the record, when you're in the edit mode on your LinkedIn profile, any time you see a little pencil icon you have the opportunity to edit something. Most people miss the professional headline section, however, because LinkedIn defaults to your most recent job title. Take the time to edit your headline, and make sure you use the best keywords for the business you are in.
Skills & Expertise 8 of 11
This part is so important! Particularly if you are job hunting. Take the time to add as much detail about your skills as you can, because these keywords right here are how people find your profile. In addition, this is a section you might want to stay on top of and add or remove things as time passes. Also: don't list any skills you might have but are NOT skills you want to use on your next job. I have eight years of experience as a veterinary technician but you'll note that I don't list any of the skills I used in that job on my current profile because while I may have been a whiz at getting an IV into a cat, that's not how I'm interested in making a living now.
Status Updates 9 of 11
Did you know you can add status updates to your LinkedIn profile? Many people don't utilize this nifty feature, but it's a smart thing to do. Posting updates helps the folks you're connected with keep you in mind. However, LinkedIn is NOT the place to share links to blog posts, unless you are posting on your blog about something specifically about the work you do. Remember, LinkedIn is your living resume and that includes your status updates. So only share things that you feel are resume worthy.
Endorsements 10 of 11
Last year LinkedIn added the endorsements feature. Now anytime you click on someone's profile on LinkedIn, you get a pop up box asking you to endorse the skills of the people you're connected with. Personally, I dislike this feature; people endorse me for things I don't do all the time (no, I don't do PR). However, I've been told by recruiters that they take the endorsements part of your profile seriously, so it does matter. I would highly recommend that you take the time every couple of weeks to prune this section to make sure it's actually relevant; luckily, LinkedIn allows you to pick which endorsements you want people to see.
LinkedIn Groups 11 of 11
Okay, so I'm actually giving you 11 tips. Groups are a great way to connect with people on LinkedIn that aren't your actual connections and it turns out that recruiters and people that do hiring are looking at that section. It's the digital version of professional organizations, so join groups that cover areas you are interested in and will highlight your expertise.