LinkedIn’s New Profile – the lowdown and an action plan!

Well it looks like LinkedIn’s new profile for our personal accounts is being rolled out to the next phase of people and speeding up a little in the process, so I felt it was time to give a bit of a lowdown on it and what you are going to need to do.

By the way, for those who are coming along to the Public workshops in January, don’t worry it will all be included there! 😉 As a very quick aside – lots of new locations and a special offer to launch them with on the 2013 Public Schedule – you can find details here!

This is quite a long post, so feel free to dip in and out of the areas of most interest to you.

There’s good and bad to report

On with the details! To start with, I have some good news and I have some bad news – as ever, in this type of upgrade, LinkedIn does like to give with one hand and take away with the other, so it would seem appropriate to start with a quick summary.

The bad news first: the Applications that many of us have lovingly tended on our profiles and which have proven to be such a boost in a variety of key uses have been abandoned in their current format. (Read on for ways you can still get some of them). In addition, there has also been the abandonment of other elements on the site which have now disappeared such as the Events and the Polls options.

And the good news? Well, the profiles are a lot more visual in nature which is designed to make them more engaging and, along with that, we have a ‘rich media’ option which allows us to embed a variety of files and formats and which replaces in part some of the applications and makes the addition of video a much simpler process. I also consider that the re-instatement of the ‘Updates’ section showing our latest activity is a good step because of the additional marketing options it offers.

What’s new then?

More Graphic – The first thing that you are likely to notice is the much more graphic feel to the page with logos appearing next to your current and past jobs and a series of graphic representations of your network in the right hand side bar.

Commonalities – One element here that I think will prove to be useful are the elements that you have in common with people – now it graphically shows which Groups you have in common, which Skills you share as well as Interests and also Location. This should help identify at a glance – along with the Shared Connections section which has also be made more visual – if there are major overlaps between you and the person whose profile you’re looking at. Ideal for the ‘points of reference’ when and if you decide to send your personalised invitation to connect.

Profile sections – The main body of your profile has also been divided up differently with a series of different sections divided up into areas which include:

  1. Activity (ie. your latest updates and activity on the site)
  2. Background (containing Experience, Education, Skills, Projects etc.)
  3. Recommendations (the full list, although 2 appear at the bottom of each position in the Experience section)
  4. Connections (if you haven’t hidden them)
  5. Groups
  6. Following (Companies & Thought Leaders that you follow which is new.)

The order that these main sections appear in seems to be fixed but you can move the elements around within the ‘Background’ section, where to be honest most of the ‘meaty’ content sits, so that in fact gives a good deal of flexibility there. You can also still choose the order that your ‘Current Roles’ appear in as previously which is helpful.

NB. I should add that it is still good to think about the order here and adjust the display accordingly just as you hopefully were doing on the old format.

Activity & Updates – Right at the top, straight after the overview section containing your photo, LinkedIn have re-instated the ‘Activity’ section which used to appear in past re-incarnations of the profile. This will potentially allow you to highlight particular articles or events that you wish to push and it will be interesting to see if LinkedIn gives us the ‘Featured post’ option here as they have on the Company Updates page. As a final point of note, you can now also send out Updates directly from your profile page rather than the homepage.

Recommendations – the recommendations get both sides of the coin – they are highlighted much more and you get two which are prominently displayed at the bottom of each position that you have with a link to additional ones. There is also a photo of the person leaving the recommendation which in itself brings then to life. However, the main Recommendations section containing all of them has been relegated further down the profile page and below the Endorsements which of course sits as part of the Skills and Expertise element with the ‘ Background section.

So what gives with the Applications?

Well a lot, to be honest, are just being abandoned – or at least it seems that way. Certainly, the Events section disappeared on 26th November and the Polls section (other than those available in the individual Groups) also seems to have made an unannounced exit – both these apps are understandably missing from the menus (though you can access the Polls via your Settings page, rather bizarrely). Likewise the Reading List from Amazon is no longer available together with ManyMoon and GitHub.

The others seem to be available still to varying degrees of satisfaction, though in some cases I’d be loathe to call it a real replacement. Blogs – a topic as many of you will know that is dear to my heart – seem to no longer be able to be displayed although you can link up WordPress blogs using their Jetpack plugin though that isn’t really a solution. The fate of the others is outlined (with some useful links) in the Help Center files on LinkedIn here.

Rich Media Solution

The solution that LinkedIn has given is what they call Rich Media which is actually good in terms of what it does but, if I was going to gripe, does still lack the variety of opportunities and control that having the different applications offered. We also lose the ability to connect multiple accounts to a single external source which I found (such as a blog or account) which allowed greater cohesion across a team or company.

However, focusing on the positives, it allows us to add media links to images, presentations, videos, and documents directly on certain areas of our profile such as the Summary and Experience sections. This means that with individual files, it becomes very easy to highlight elements that you may have on YouTube or Presentations that have created to promote the organisation or demonstrate your area of expertise.

If we take as an example, you can still link in your application to a certain extent as you are able to link and display specific files from your account. Personally, I don’t find this as neat as the previous solution and it really doesn’t pander to those who kept multiple files as an information resource – it does nevertheless offer a great deal more flexibility.

The information directly from states that to add files held in you should:

copy and paste the file’s direct link in the LinkedIn professional gallery on the page. Find the direct link by previewing the file as you normally would in Box, selecting File Options > Share > Get Link to File and then clicking on Direct Link to generate the URL. Paste it directly in the LinkedIn professional gallery. Repeat the same steps for other files you’d like to add to your profile.

Others follow a similar format but will often need to be hosted so a blog might take on an additional role in that capacity.

There is a list of the types of files that you will be able to incorporate into your profile in LinkedIn’s Help section here.

What should you do in response

So how are you going to incorporate all of this into making sure that your profile – the thing that needs to make a great first impression on your behalf and market you & what you do – really works for you at all levels?

Well, here are some initial thoughts:

1. Remember to get the basics right: the core elements remain the same and so a good ‘Professional headline’, an expanded Job Title and then good, focused and compelling (and keyword sprinkled) text for the Job Description and Summary sections will set you off in the right direction.

2. Keep Active: with the Activity feed now up front and visible, it’s a good place to ensure that you use it as the marketing tool it is, not just for push marketing out to your connections but also with a latest activity at the top of your profile for all visitors to see.

3. Get Rich Media-ed: sorry about the grammar, but the sentiment is there! It’s always been important to use all of the elements at your disposal to stand out and with the Slideshare and options essentially sidelined, make sure you are using the Rich Media options in their place and customise the titles to suit your business purposes. Get people to stop and look at your content and Profile!

4. Recommendations: make the first two recommendation against each job your best / most relevant ones because these will then be highlighted directly below the Job Description text. Extra visibility so extra impact. You can change the order they appear under each position from within the Recommendations section.

5. Skills & Endorsements: it is also sensible to ensure that your Skills and Expertise section (with the Endorsements in tow) is working positively for you as this is now included in the Background section. While not keen on it myself, people are using it and taking notice of it, so it’s important to make sure you benefit too. [My full thoughts on the Endorsements issue here]

6. Think about Interests: although I’m not usually one for getting masses of personal stuff in here, with LinkedIn highlighting the Interests that you admit to (!) and that you have in common, now might be the time to beef up these and help people to get in touch.

Summing Up

There’s a lot of good stuff that LinkedIn is doing here. They are trying to make the site more engaging and to allow us the users to do the same – I’ve always said that you need to stand out (in a good way) on LinkedIn to succeed here and we now have additional tools at our disposal to achieve that.

I’m disappointed by the loss of the Applications as the individual opportunities and level of functionality that they offered I felt were really worthwhile. However, it is what it is and we need to make the most of what we have available to achieve our aims for being on the site.

Personally, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how to achieve that here on the blog, on LinkedIn and also in the workshops in 2013 and beyond … I hope to see you in one of those venues.

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