By Jeff Kline

Blog

12 Steps to Optimizing Your LinkedIn Profile

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

LinkedIn logoI spend most of my time on this blog discussing your organization’s online presence—topics like how to create an effective Facebook fan page and how to design a beautiful company website. But today, the focus is going to be on you. You, as a representative of your organization.

Your personal LinkedIn profile is much like an online resume, allowing you to display your professional achievements and employment history. But even better, it is a tool that enables you to network with other professionals—colleagues and friends, as well as prospective new customers, members and donors for your organization.

In today’s post, you will learn the 12 steps to optimizing your LinkedIn profile so that you and your company will be more visible and have more success on LinkedIn. To help me demonstrate what a great LinkedIn profile looks like, Charlotte Chamber CFO Mike Manning was kind enough to volunteer his profile. The Accrisoft team worked with Mike to get his profile fully optimized, so I encourage you to use Mike’s profile as your Northern Star.

So without further ado, here are the 12 steps to optimizing your LinkedIn profile:

1) Name

Choosing your profile name might seem like a no-brainer, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind: 

  • Use your full name. Some LinkedIn users like to use a first or last initial, but this can make it more difficult for potential connections to find you. 
  • Avoid using keyword-related nicknames. It might be tempting to write your name as "John 'Volunteer Coordinator' Smith," because of the potential SEO benefits. However, resorting to such techniques will make you appear desperate and unprofessional.

Name on LinkedIn Profile

 

2) Personal Headline

Your personal headline is a line of descriptive text that appears under your name. It is the LinkedIn equivalent of your elevator speech, highlighting what makes you valuable and unique. There are two approaches to writing your headline. The standard “Job Title, Company Name” is perfect if you have a self-explanatory title such as CEO or Marketing Director. But if your job title alone doesn’t communicate your actual responsibilities, try including one or two descriptive keywords in your headline. This will take a bit of creativity, but it will make it easier for LinkedIn users to search for you.

Headline on LinkedIn Profile

 

3) Profile Photo

Neglecting to upload a profile picture will essentially make you a ghost on LinkedIn. Providing a photo lets people put a face to your name and shows LinkedIn members that your profile isn’t fake. The type of photo you select should reflect your LinkedIn goals and the type of industry in which you work. Neal Schaffer, author of Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing, recommends that your choice of clothing should reflect what you would wear in front of clients or your customer’s CEO.  

Profile photo on LinkedIn Profile

 

4) Summary

This is where you can truly brand yourself and share who you are. Don’t simply create a bulleted list of general information. Instead, tell a story… your story, giving page visitors a glimpse into what you’re really passionate about and what makes you great.

 Summary on LinkedIn Profile

 

5) Experience

Work Experience is another very important section of your profile. List each company name, and be sure each one links to the correct LinkedIn Company Page. Also include dates worked and keyword-rich descriptions of each position. 

Experience on LinkedIn Profile

Skills and Expertise on LinkedIn Profile

 

6) Skills & Expertise

This section gives you the chance to highlight your skills and capabilities. LinkedIn allows individuals to list up to 40 skills and expertise. Be sure to use the allotted 40 skills wisely, highlighting your key strengths. Instead of listing generic skills like "Microsoft Word," consider using more unique or industry-specific skills, such as "Community Outreach" or "Economic Development." People connected to you can endorse each of your listed skills, and skills with the most endorsements will be listed first. Endorse other people in your network, and they will likely feel compelled to return the favor!

 

7) Education

Don’t hold anything back in this section—it’s the perfect place to highlight your hard work and experience. A robust Education section adds more credibility to your profile and provides potential connections with more ways of finding you. Be sure to list all of your education history (yes, even high school) and add relevant projects and organizations associated with your education history, along with your responsibilities and skills learned. 

Education on LinkedIn Profile

 

8) Contact information

The main reason you have a LinkedIn profile is to network with like-minded individuals and build your business network. Therefore, it is essential that you provide visitors with a way to get in touch with you. I suggest providing your business email address and phone number.

Edit Contact Info on LinkedIn Profile

You can also tell your connections how you prefer to be contacted. In edit mode, scroll down to the bottom of your profile until you see Additional Details. If you only want to be contacted via LinkedIn messages, state that in this section. You can also include the best time of day for contacting you and when people can expect a response.

Contact advice on LinkedIn

 

9) Websites

Also in the Contact Info section, you can add up to three websites. Providing a link to your company’s website makes it easier for people viewing your website to find their way back to your organization. If a link isn’t readily available, chances are individuals aren’t going to go digging for it. You can also include a link to your blog, Facebook profile, Twitter account or any other platform on which you have an online presence. However, make sure you are actively using those sites. Providing a link to an inactive site will decrease your credibility.

Websites on LinkedIn Profile

 

10) Personalized URL

Claiming your personalized LinkedIn URL is an easy step that cleans up your profile and adds credibility. While in edit mode, click the  Edit link next to your current URL, located just below your profile photo. Click the Customize Public Profile URL link in the top right corner and type in your name. If your name is already taken, try adding your middle initial or a single number. Now your URL will look more professional when you add it to your email sign-off, business cards, etc. 

Personalized URL on LinkedIn Profile

 

11) Recommendations

This section allows individuals in your network to write a recommendation, serving as a professional reference. This allows your skills to be expressed by others rather than simply having a profile full of information you’ve written about yourself. Schaffer recommends getting at least one recommendation for each position listed. 

Writing recommendations for others in your network will encourage them to write a recommendation for you. You can also request a recommendation from somebody in your network. Click the edit button and select Get Recommended from the drop-down menu. Next you must select the position for which you would like to be recommended and from whom you want to get the recommendation. 

Recommendation on LinkedIn Profile

 

12) Join 50 Groups

LinkedIn allows users to join as many as 50 groups, so be sure to take advantage of your allotted 50.  Joining groups and interacting is a great way to gain knowledge and remain up to date on industry trends. But that’s not the only benefit—visitors to your profile will be able to see which groups you’ve joined, and that will influence their opinion of who you are as a professional. 

Groups on LinkedIn Profile

UP NEXT: MAKING CONNECTIONS ON LINKEDIN

Next week on the Summer of Social Media for Nonprofits, learn how to use your newly optimized profile to begin building your network and making connections with prospective new members, donors, volunteers, vendors and supporters.

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