Every business professional needs to develop a well-crafted LinkedIn profile.
The social media platform is no longer just a place to post your resume and get a new job (and your profile should never replicate your resume in the first place). In fact, LinkedIn’s platform has changed quite dramatically over the past couple years, now focusing on publishing high-quality news and articles with their Pulse section. And to improve your high-quality connections, you can highlight skills and portfolio pieces in your personal profile and showcase a positive business brand on your Company Page.
For sales teams, LinkedIn has also launched a host of tools to connect with customers and prospects, including some paid solutions like their Premium profile features and Sales Navigator. Even with unpaid solutions and tactics, a sales person can optimize their profile and easily connect with their clients. Those clients are searching LinkedIn to verify the legitimacy and credibility of their vendors, so your LinkedIn profile can go a long way in gaining your customer’s trust.
How should I update my LinkedIn profile?
Make your professional brand look just as savvy and personable as you are in real life. A great profile should quickly demonstrate three key things:
- Who you are
- What you have done
- What you CAN do for your connections
Keep these three points in mind as you work through the following top five starting points to update your profile and demonstrate true value.
1. Update your photo
Yeah, you’ve heard this before, and it’s probably on your to-do list. If you haven’t updated your profile picture in the past year, it’s high time you get snapping.
A great LinkedIn profile picture should hit all the points below:
- It’s just you. No group shots or dismembered arms around you after you cropped someone out.
- Have a light and non-distracting background. Think white wall or blurred out skyscape. This highlights your smiling face.
- Wear professional clothing, just like you would at the workplace. But if you generally dress down at work, kick it up a notch in your profile pic. You want to put your best foot forward here, just like you would at a conference or event.
- High-quality image. It doesn’t have to be a professional quality photo, but grainy quality is not acceptable.
2. Improve your headline
The “headline” in your profile is the line that comes just under your name. It should explain your strengths and value to your connections. Often people will add their job title here, but that may not be the whole story. You get 120 characters in your headline to get creative, use keywords that people will be searching for and tell people how you can help them in an instant.
For example, say you do business consulting in healthcare and you’re trying to optimize your profile. Adding “Business Consultant” to your headline might be the truth, but it doesn’t say too much about what you’re capable of doing for your connections. Instead, you could say that you are an “Award-winning B2B strategic consultant focusing on the healthcare industry” or that you “Have been helping healthcare professionals improve business operations for over 20 years. Clients include <Company ABC> and <Company 123>.”
The examples below via TomMallens.com are great demonstrations of people showing value in a friendly and relatable way.
Headlines can be memorable and differentiate you from the competition. And they are searchable, so using the right keywords in your profile will help you get discovered.
One last tip: You can find out what others in your industry have created for headlines. Click on the edit button beside your headline (the pencil icon) and then click “See what others in your industry are using” to open a search box for examples from other users in your field.
3. Attach portfolio pieces to your work experience
Within your work experience section, you can add portfolio pieces via the “Add Media” buttons. This allows you to showcase projects and items you’ve been a part of over the years that demonstrate your value.
(Image by Vital)
Add a pdf document you created to help market your company. Add a link to a website you helped build. Include videos from events that you were a part of coordinating or when you spoke on a panel. You can also include presentation slides that could be from a public event or a meeting that summarizes the work you’ve accomplished.
Get creative with this section and add something for each of your key positions held over the past several years. This will give your connections a more robust view of your abilities.
4. Complete all 50 skills
The “Skills & Endorsements” section of your profile serves a couple purposes. First, it clearly shows people what areas of focus you are known for in your circle of connections. Second, and more importantly, when connections endorse you for skills, that will appear in the LinkedIn news feed. That will prompt others to view your profile, potentially endorse you as well, and take notice of you as an expert in that field.
You may have added some skills to your profile already, but did you know you could add up to 50 of them and change their order?
Make use of all 50 spaces. This will ensure that people endorse you for the right areas of focus.
Click “Add Skill” on the Skills & Endorsements area, or the pencil icon on any of your existing skills, and you’ll be able to add more skills and drag the boxes to change the order of appearance.
Not sure what skills to add? No problem. Take a look at these top skills to list on LinkedIn to help you on your way.
5. Join up to 50 groups
One secret of LinkedIn is the ability to connect directly with any members of groups you have joined. That means being able to message anyone in a group without being a first or second-degree connection or paying for the Premium membership.
LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups, so take advantage of this and maximize your groups.
Be strategic about the groups you join. Start with groups that you already belong to, such as business associations, community groups, university alumni associations and your existing company groups. Then add vendor groups, partner organizations and trade associations. You’ll likely be left with about 25 empty groups at this point, and this is where the magic begins.
Search your connection profiles to find out what key groups they’ve joined. Take note of the groups where your customers and prospects are hanging out, as well as the number of members in each group. Then join the best groups they have joined so that you can maximize your opportunity to connect with like minds and the highest number of members. This gives you more potential to reach out to new connections when the time is right.
Do you have any LinkedIn tips that have helped you improve your profile and get discovered by the right people? Tell us in the comments section below.