By Drew Cohen
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn has certainly positioned itself as the number-one professional networking site. In fact, with LinkedIn now owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn released data in April claiming 500 million users. With these giant numbers, it’s no surprise that most businesspeople find themselves on LinkedIn. But how can you stand out from the crowd and make your LinkedIn profile produce desired results? Here are five simple tips to enhance your LinkedIn profile.
1. Custom URL
It is extremely simple to do, but it’s a step that people tend to skip right over. By default, LinkedIn provides members with a randomly generated URL. This can be changed, and the URL can be made much more search-engine-friendly. In addition to the SEO benefits, there is a significant personal branding bonus. Once you edit your LinkedIn URL, it will look something like this: linkedin.com/in/[yournamehere]. This custom, personalized URL can now be used in things like business cards, email signatures, presentations, and conversations. Keep in mind that these URLs are available on a first-come, first-served basis. So, you may have to tweak the URL with different variations of your name.
This is your opportunity to explain who you are and go beyond the basic resume fluff. Put some thought into how you and your organization add value, and use the summary as your elevator pitch. Think of the words that prospective buyers or industry partners will use to search for someone with your expertise, and work this into your content for added SEO value. If you’re a salesperson at a car dealership, you should consider including “car sales,” “vehicle sales,” and “car dealership.” Many times, people utilize LinkedIn’s advanced search capabilities to fill a need for their company or organization. Optimizing the keyword usage will maximize your exposure. With that in mind, it’s equally important to let your personality shine through.
3. Fill Out Your Profile Completely
Your LinkedIn profile is so much more than an online version of your resume. It’s an active, ever-changing opportunity to showcase your work and skill set. If you do a quick search of your current LinkedIn connections, chances are, you will find a significant percentage of users have profiles that are incomplete. You will find users who have many of their recent job titles and positions included, with brief descriptions—or no descriptions—of what this position entailed or how these users added value to the marketplace. Adding more detail to your profile will increase your chances of showing up in searches. Keep your keywords in mind, but do not force them into your text. As a basic guideline, consider adding four to six bullet points to each job that you’ve held.
4. Adding Multimedia to Your Profile
Profiles with work samples, photos, videos, and slideshare presentations certainly stand out. A common question I am asked is "I do [insert job function here] for a living; how do I show a work sample in this industry?" Certainly, this is a valid concern and may not seem obvious at first. The key is to think outside of the box. Maybe you were featured in a case study because of your excellent work on a recent project. You could take a screenshot of this and display this in a section of your profile. Maybe you saved one of your clients more than a million dollars last year by implementing a new project management solution. You could display a graph or chart showing the amount of money saved by one of your customers. If you are in a sales function, you could develop a short slide deck that shows the products/services that you provide. You could show what you can offer if a customer chooses to do business with you. These are just a few examples, but the key is having something. We live in a very visual society, and providing viewers of your profile with a little more than plain text will go a long way. For information on how to add work samples to your profile, click here.
5. Relevant Certifications, Skills, and Education
As a member of the LinkedIn community, you are surrounded by individuals who are there for many of the same reasons as you. Be sure to add your certifications to your profile that have contributed to your professional journey. Listing your educational institutions will provide you with opportunities to network with fellow alumni. People have school pride, and it can open many doors or help secure a new relationship.
Go Get It
Whether your primary goal on LinkedIn is to explore new job opportunities or find a vendor partner to assist with an upcoming project, it’s critical that you put your best foot forward. Following these simple steps to enhance your LinkedIn profile can put you in a great position to achieve these goals.