When we talk about editing or optimising our profile on LinkedIn, most of the time we’re thinking about our Personal Profile. And rightly so, it is the central element of our activity on LinkedIn.
Our Personal Profile is where we add our details, experience, summary and all of the information that’s relevant about us and what we do. This is essentially our representation on LinkedIn – you could almost call it your avatar or your sales & marketing document, Business card on steroids or even your CV depending on what you are using LinkedIn for.
However, when you create your profile on LinkedIn, the system automatically creates what is essentially a mirror image of it called your Public Profile. It is this page that is then indexed by the external search engines such as Google or Bing, and then appears in the search results out on the web. You can see what LinkedIn displays and make any changes required by accessing the Public Profile from the button in the top right hand corner of your main Personal Profile page.
At first sight, this Public Profile may seem unimportant in comparison, but do bear in mind that while your main profile can be viewed by the 560 million members of LinkedIn, your Public Profile is visible to anyone around the world with access to the Internet!
More than that, given the way that LinkedIn panders to Google and its ranking algorithm, your public profile on LinkedIn is likely to appear towards the top of the 1st page as well when you search for your name!
Is my Public Profile always public?
Does it have to be so visible, so “public”? Well, no, you can in fact hide any or all of it. But let’s think about it for a second. Here we have been given a very powerful page made available to the world in general which is likely to rank highly in the search engines when anyone searches for your name. Not bad, particularly when it’s for free.
However, I would recommend that you take a moment to consider what you show there – although you can’t change the text independently (it just comes from your Personal Profile), you can decide which sections will be displayed.
Personally, as I look at that, I consider what I want people to do once they’ve found my Public Profile on Google, essentially what are my main calls to action. For me they are to get people to:
- Click on the View Full Profile button which will take them through to my main LinkedIn profile if they are a member and logged on;
- Click on one of my website links which appear in the main overview section at the top to see the products, skills and services I offer – making sure that I get some marketing focused text to describe where they will be sent;
- Contact me directly – if I have added a phone number or an email address somewhere in the body of the profile such as the Summary section.
It’s for that reason that I cut out the rest of the information which may distract from these aims … and I leave the rest as public as possible. Remember that for the vast majority of people of LinkedIn looking to use the site as a business development and networking tool, the CV type of requirement that you need to have all of your details in full display is no longer relevant.
The way that it is displayed is also different to the version inside of LinkedIn – it’s more akin to the format that was the standard on LinkedIn about 4 years ago and so shows information, particularly in the top section, in a very different way. Should you pander to when you write your information? Probably not, but it’s good to be aware.
Don’t forget to customise the URL
As a final element to help the process along, I ensure that I have given it a customised URL, in my case https://www.linkedin.com/in/thelinkedinprofessional. The usual format is a series of numbers and letters with your name in the middle of it – not very memorable and so not great in encouraging people to look at what should essentially be a marketing / support document for you, your skills and the things that you offer.
Although it has to be unique, if your name is still available then that would be the most sensible option – if it isn’t, then you may need to add a middle initial or perhaps append “LI” or “profile”. Or of course choose something totally different as I have done – let’s face it, “markwhite” as a page name went fairly early on!
Anyway … check out what you are allowing out into the open and then decide what you want to achieve with your public profile and modify it accordingly. I’d say that in most cases you can afford to be open with this type of information but do make sure that it conveys the right message in the right way.