The old adage states that “All roads lead to Rome” and, for me, on most social networking sites the same is true when it comes to your profile page – no matter where you come across someone, you will automatically gravitate back to their profile page soon afterwards to find out more about them. This makes your profile page an essential element to get right and one that is worth spending the time on to make sure it works for you and not against you.
This is particularly true on LinkedIn where you now have an increasing number of ways to communicate what you do, allowing you to both state and demonstrate your experience and your knowledge. However, it isn’t a CV (Resume) so don’t just take your “normal” CV and copy that into your LinkedIn profile – while I can understand the temptation if you are using LinkedIn as a route to finding a new job, even in this case it is not going to serve you well. If you are in fact wanting to use it as a business development tool then even less so.
For me, there are 10 areas that you need to be looking at when you develop and refine your profile – we’ll be looking at those in more detail in future posts, but they are:
- Profile picture
Make sure that there is one, that it is of you (yes, I know this sounds obvious … but you’d be surprised!) and that it looks professional. Head and shoulders shots generally work well;
- Professional Headline
This stays with you on everything you post and so make sure that you use it appropriately – perhaps state your objectives, link to a marketing piece or highlight a key element of what you do. Do customise it though – if not, it will just display your last job title which won’t generally make best use of it;
- Update: your latest update appears right at the top of your profile page so that is another good reason to keep that recent – but let’s make sure that it is relevant and timely for your audience! That probably means it should not be your Twitter stream!
- Company Profile: link up with your company profile and, if it’s your company, get one written, submitted and optimised. This will allow you a second focal point on the site which is accessible externally and gives you the chance to display a different focus;
- Summary: well, this is all about you – you have 2000 characters and so use them! If you want people to read it though, you need to get people interested so it might be worth phrasing it as a story … that helps it flow and will more often retain people’s interest;
- Specialities: good place to get those keyword terms highlighted. You have a 500 character limit so keep them just right – this will help for LinkedIn’s search but also a good place to have the “soundbites” where people can tell at a glance what you do;
- Public Profile: you have the chance to get a “vanity URL” so why not? Will certainly help as you publicise your LinkedIn page externally and they are also getting quite high placements in Google now which is no bad thing either;
- Websites: make sure that you make these customised so you make it clear what people are going to click through to – don’t just leave it as “My Company” and “My Blog”, saying it’s my “LinkedIn Advice site” is much more powerful;
- Recommendations: they are a powerful way of demonstrating that all of the things you have on your profile really are true and they do have an impact – do make sure that they are real (of course!) and that it really is a recommendation from someone who knows you! It also helps to give them so don’t forget that it works both ways;
- Applications: there are some excellent applications helping you to link your content and demonstrate your areas of interest, so make the most of them. We’ll go into this aspect in particular in much more depth in a later post.
If you remember what your goals are for LinkedIn and then bear these in mind as you build and update your profile then you won’t go far wrong. However, do try to make sure that you use all of the elements that are on offer to you to get your message across and make sure you get found ahead of your competitors.