How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile for All-Star Status

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LinkedIn doesn’t get enough love! I get it, though. It’s a bit boring compared to Facebook and Pinterest, but that’s only because most people don’t use it to its fullest potential. Fact is, if you’re a professional, you need to be on LinkedIn. It’s not enough to simply have a profile, either. You need to be active and engaged in the community. Why? Well… LinkedIn is the platform to build your professional presence online. It allows the ability to not only position you as an industry leader, but as an influencer as well. If you’re in a B2B industry, it should be common practice to connect with every client, as well as any potential client you just met. This keeps you top of mind and reaffirms your expertise and skill. As long as you have a completed, optimized and engaged presence, that is. If you’re unsure how to optimize your LinkedIn profile, simply follow the instructions outlined in this blog. If you do, you’ll be a professional force to be reckoned with.

Upload a Photo

There’s nothing worse than receiving a connection request and seeing a faceless image staring back at you. I typically deny any such request, and very rarely seek a connection from a profile that is missing one. There are 238 million users on LinkedIn, and you need to be able to stand out. The first step to doing this is uploading a photo of yourself. Since LinkedIn is a professional site, make sure the photo represents you as a professional. Make sure the photo is not:

  • Grainy or pixelated
  • A “self-portrait” (leave those on Facebook, please)
  • Poorly lit
  • Inappropriate (duh!)
  • A party pic
  • NON-EXISTENT

Sorry for that last one. I just can’t express the importance of including a photo enough.

Write a Great Headline

LinkedIn automatically pulls a profile’s headline from the user’s current position and place of employment, but most people aren’t aware that this is completely customizable. Just take a look at your list of connections for proof. Look at your own! This gives you the perfect opportunity to stand out from your peers. There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your headline. First, you need to showcase your specialty. Use this as an opportunity to state your value proposition, but be specific. Next, tailor it to speak directly to your target audience. If you’re a lawyer, speak to the types of clients you want to attain. For marketing, speak to the businesses. Also, strategically place valuable keywords to help increase your visibility in LinkedIn’s search. Any person viewing my profile will know exactly what I do and with whom I’m trying to connect. There are also three incredibly valuable keywords: Online marketing, SEO and social media. Lastly, get creative! Again, you’re trying to stand out.

Create a custom URL

Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows its users to create custom URLs, which provides incredible value. There are three directions you can take when creating your custom LinkedIn URL. First, you can choose to simply make it your name. It’s easy to remember, but a potential connection would likely just use the search function to find someone. I prefer the other approaches. Use a keyword! Notice a theme here? If you’re a local baker, check to see if linkedin.com/in/lafayettebaker is available. If not, get more specific. Using a keyword increases your chance in search visibility, and reaffirms you’re the right person for their query. The only downside to this method is LinkedIn does not allow dashes or underscores, so it could look a little jumbled. I opted to go the creative route. My custom LinkedIn URL is /HesSEO. Try to think outside the box a little!

List Your Contact Info

It’s a shame this section is so hidden that it’s barely visible. This doesn’t mean you should skip it, though! Not only does it provide useful information for those who want to reach out, but it also gives you the opportunity to do some sneaky optimizations. Instead of simply listing your blog under the appropriate category, choose the “Other” section. Now you can label it whatever you want! My go-to? You guessed it: KEYWORDS! Your boring old blog now stands out as an “Online Marketing Blog” or “How to Landscape Blog.”

Write a Professional Summary

This is one of the most important sections of your LinkedIn profile. This is where you get to tell your story in your own words. Be authentic. Be your own ambassador. It’s ok to brag! Also, be sure to write in the first person POV. This is your page and you need to speak to your audience. Most importantly, avoid buzzwords! There’s no easier way to blend in and have your profile skimmed than if it’s full of buzzwords used by everyone else. These were the most used buzzwords on LinkedIn in 2012: Creative, organizational, effective, motivated, extensive experience, track record, innovative responsible, analytical and problem solving. Solve this problem by avoiding these words at all costs! Keep in mind that buzzwords and keywords are separate things. Buzzwords are used to impress. They’re fashionable. Keywords are words or phrases someone might use when searching for information related to your industry. The summary is also the section that has the highest character limit, so don’t be afraid to beef it up. However, you don’t want it to be a chore to get through. This is still the Internet and people have short attention spans. After detailing who you are and what you do, include notable achievements in a bulleted list so it’s quick and easy to digest. Lastly, (do I even have to say it?) use keywords.

Fill in Your Experience

It’s obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how many barren profiles I’ve seen that list the absolute bare minimum. Any position you’ve held that is related to your profession should be included. If it’s not related to your field but looks impressive anyway, add that too. Just don’t over do it. …And use keywords.

Add Media Links

This is one of the absolute coolest things about LinkedIn that practically no one utilizes! For those who are unaware, you can upload slides, images, videos and links to use your profile as a digital portfolio. This can even be done in multiple sections. Post projects from past jobs under that section in your Experience. Include noteworthy projects under the Projects section. Reserve the items that truly showcase your expertise for your Summary.

Complete Your Profile as Much as Possible

LinkedIn has this handy feature that details all the things missing from your profile and an easy way to include them. Take advantage of this. Detail relevant courses, certifications, projects, honors and awards, and organizations you belong to.

Be Active

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Sure, it looks great if you followed all the suggestions above, but it doesn’t mean much if you aren’t actively sharing your knowledge and expertise with others. LinkedIn has wonderful feature called LinkedIn Today. It acts as a personalized information and news aggregator, so you can see relevant stories immediately upon logging in. Share the stories that you find interesting or newsworthy with others, or use the information and write a blog about it, which you can use as an update on your profile. Next, find and participate in Groups. This is where you can find others in your industry, or just people who need help, and interact with them. Post comments and answer questions. If you’re lucky, a helpful answer may turn into a new customer. More importantly, it provides another means to showcase your knowledge and experience. Lastly, endorse and recommend your connections. Endorsements are simply affirming that “this person” is knowledgeable in “this skillset”. Recommendations act as mini-reviews or testimonials. The quickest way to gain these is by doing it for others. They may not always reciprocate, but the few that do offer incredible value. So there you have it! If you have any additional questions or are unclear on any of these points, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!