What you’re not doing could hurt you – LinkedIn Public Profiles
I am by no means and “LinkedIn” specialist, but I do happen to read a lot about social media, and social media strategy is what I do. Almost all of us (That should read ALL OF US) have a Linkedin profile. However, the majority of us probably only look at it once a month at most. I’ll work on proving why, and how, you should be interacting with this important business medium. As a note, I am covering the more important sections of the LinkedIn page, not all of them. Fill the rest in as you like.
Setting Up Your Profile: After logging into your LinkedIn Account, place your mouse over the “Profile” menu option, and click on “Edit Profile” from the drop down menu.
Click on the Edit hyperlink next to your name:
Your Name: First up, you want to use your real professional name. Unlike Twitter, YouTube or Facebook, you shouldn’t be trying to hide anything you do on LinkedIn from your professional contacts. You want to claim your name, and make sure it is associate with who you are.
Professional “Headline”: This one is also very important. When people search for you in LinkedIn or Google, this is what shows up as your mini-bio. I’ll explain this later. Choose something that is both short, but descriptive. Unless you work for a company with a very long name, I would consider including the company’s name. Of course that’s easy for me since mine is AT&T.
Location: If you’re online to promote your Small Business, or searching for jobs, it is a good idea to fill out this information both fully and truthfully. I can think of very few reasons why a person would not fill this out completely.
→ Click on “Save Changes”
Your Photo – Click the Edit Photo Under The Profile Box
Bad Ideas: The best way to be ignored is to have no picture at all on your LinkedIn profile. This tells people that you are either too lazy to put your picture up there or that you might not actually be who you say you are.
That being said, you should choose wisely. Life probably won’t end dramatically if you use a goofy picture, but you are likely to loose credibility if you use your old fraternity drinking pictures.
Good Ideas: The best recommendation is to use either a simple portrait photo, or your company’s icon. This would depend on how correlated with your company you want to be. Personally, I choose a fairly relaxed head shot, since I work in social media and a tie is often considered passé.
Websites: You want to include a couple of different methods that people can communicate with you. Do you talk to customers or business partners on Twitter, do you blog, do you use Facebook professionally? Include multiple channels here so that the recruiter, or customer can learn more about you, and contact you they way that they choose.
Twitter: If you use it for anything business related, which I recommend that you do, add it here. It adds an additional channel for people to contact you, and it will allow you to make easy updates to your LinkedIn profile. Any time you tweet and include the #li or #in hashtag, LinkedIn will automatically pull and include that tweet.
Summary – Click Edit Next To The Word Summary:
Note: Until very recently, I was completely utilizing this section wrong. This is my partial redemption.
Professional Experience & Goals: Either through laziness or a lack of knowledge I used to place my entire current resume worth of text in this box. Looking back at this act, it seems stupid now, but oh well. Use this section to fill in content about what you are currently involved in. What are your business responsibilities, and what are you in charge of. Why should a customer or a recruiter look at you? Spend some time on this section, because it is your main selling point for your profile. I’m still working at cleaning mine up, and “perfecting” it.
Specialties: Now this is very important, so don’t ever skip this. THIS SECTION IS HOW YOU GET FOUND. Use this section to list out any skill sets that you want to be known in. If you work in social media, you’re going to want that in there, as well as every site you are proficient in. Also, anything that differentiates you from everyone else that works in your field. I currently have this section very short working on a trial, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Think of everything you do, and every iteration of those things. Instead of just “Social Media”, also use “Social Media Marketing” and Social Media Care”. You want to fill this up as much as possible.
Link Baiting: There are many people that use link baiting in this section. It’s an old-school SEO trick where you basically repeat the same phrase or two as many times as possible. This is acceptable in some disciplines, and not acceptable in others. Understand if this is something people in your field do, before you do it. Also know that they will show up on your profile.
→ Click on “Save Changes”
Experience / Education – Your Resume:
This should go without saying, but fill this in. You should basically treat this as your resume, with a little extra leeway. You don’t need to fit on one page, but if you’re 30, I would drop the “Popcorn Maker” job from high school. Also, make sure to add all of your educational background. It never hurts where making connections are concerned.
This is another method of being found in search, so don’t pass it up. As you type in items, an auto-populate list will drop down. You want to both select items that LinkedIn suggests, and also add anything that you think someone might search for. Don’t be shy in this section, if you know it, add it! Once you have this done, as well as your Specialties, search for yourself in LinkedIn. What keywords do you show up for, what don’t you show up for. I’m number one for “AT&T Social Media” and on the first page for “Social Media Care”, but I don’t show up at all for “Social Media Marketing”. Since I don’t actually do much of that, I’m ok with it, but it’s still good to know.
Now that your profile is built, this is the first thing you need to check out in Linkedin. While it wasn’t true 5 years ago, it is actually detrimental for you to not have a web presence these days. Whether you are looking for a position within your own company, an external position, or just creating your professional image; few things are more important than your public Linkedin profile. Your Linkedin profile is viewed as a trusted source of information about your past skill set, and your employment history. If you Google your name, it is returned as a highly ranked result. (Unless you share a name with a famous author, then you’ll be on page 4.) Therefore, you better know what information you are providing. Because, you can bet the people you are working with, for, and around have looked.
To get to your public profile, click on the profile tab and select “Edit Profile”. In the blue box you will see a link at the bottom that says public profile. Click on this to see what it currently looks like.
Once you know what it looks like, go back to the edit page, and you will see an “Edit” hyperlink next to your public profile link. On the right side of the screen is the management options for the profile.
Your Public Profile URL: This allows you to personalize the link. I suggest something including your name, and with a business slant. If you have an original name, you can simply use your name. I wouldn’t get too creative here unless you work in marketing (Even then I still wouldn’t).This is, after all, your business profile.
Customize Your Public Profile: The next step is to select either “no one” or “everyone” for who can see your profile. Like Linkedin, I would recommend the full view. The reason for this is simple, if you select none, then you have no public profile. After selecting the “Full View” option you can now select the different items that you want the general public to see. Many of these options come down to personal preference, and what you’re willing to share with the general web audience. However, if you are looking for a job, or selling yourself, a product, or your company, then most of these boxes should be checked.
When it comes to past positions you have some thinking to do. You definitely want to post your current position, otherwise there is no real meat to the profile, but your past position is flexible. When deciding whether or not to post my past positions there were quite a few questions that ran through my mind. I used to be a manufacturing engineer, but I definitely do not want to do that again. If I post my past employment history, will head-hunters be contacting me about these kinds of roles (It turns out that after 5 years of being gone, NO)? However, I used to be a process improvement specialist that managed enterprise effecting projects. I’m pretty sure I want people to know about that! I didn’t spend five+ years catching on fire in a glass plant to develop the skill set for nothing. In the end, I choose to include my past history even though I am now in a new field, and have no plans of returning to my old career. The best option for you might be different from mine.
Basically I went through these types of questions for each item on the checklist to see how it would or would not affect my image. This exercise might take a little while, but it is definitely worth it in the end. As you build your profile, make sure to look on the left at “View My Public Profile as others see it”. This will keep you in tune with what you are creating, and will ensure you are happy with the final results. Once you’re done, just save the changes and sit back while the business contacts come rolling in. Well, not really but it’s a nice pipe-dream. The next step is get involved in groups and communities, but I’ll cover that later. Oh yeah, and check out my public profile.
Summary: Why your public profile is important
- It shows up prominently in Google / yahoo searches
- This is what your boss / colleagues / employers / other professionals know about you
- If you have a diverse set of background skills, this allows you to show / promote it
- Because not existing online, means you’re not important!