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Maximizing Your Profile on LinkedIn

I just finished working with a fairly new client to help her improve her LinkedIn profile and company pages. Along the way, I learned quite a bit more about LinkedIn, picking up a few new tips I thought others would like to know about, in order to maximize their exposure.

Just about everyone I know – except for my father and mother – have profiles on LinkedIn. It’s still considered the de facto standard for professionals who want to participate in social media, yet don’t want to dive headfirst into something as seemingly transparent as Facebook or Twitter. So, if just about everyone has a LinkedIn profile, what’s the problem?

The primary goal of LinkedIn is to network with your connections, so you’ll want to make sure your profile is up to date and very specific about what you offer and what kinds of clients or customers you have. Therefore, if it’s been more than a year since you’ve even looked at your profile, you’ll want to make sure to freshen it up. If it’s fine as is, good for you; however, I have a feeling that it could be improved.

Chances are, too, that you may not have ever filled in some of the information described below. If so, you’re not maximizing LinkedIn properly! Having said that, here are a few tips to consider to improve your LinkedIn presence:

Fill Your Headline With Keywords. The “headline” is located just under your name, and you’ll want to make it very descriptive, using keywords that describe what you do so anyone searching for certain words will locate you. Mine, for example, says, “PR, Marketing and Communications Professional With a Focus on Professional Services – Accounting, Legal, Medical.” The one I did for my client has the name of the software she consults on and implements, along with her title.

Location and Industry. These two fields are located just under your headline. Be sure to complete these, again, so that you can be found.

Contact Information. This is key so that you can be contacted by phone, email, instant messenger, Twitter and webchat. I found that one of the most overlooked portions of the Contact Information block is where you list your websites. The default is to give the URL, but if you look a little closer, you’ll see that you can “name” the sites. So, for example, instead of just listing, I can name this “Cytron and Company.” It’s much more description and user-friendly

Public Profile. See the LinkedIn URL automatically assigned to you? Click on it and you’ll see a dashboard that can be easily changed, based on what you want the public to see. You can customize this any number of ways, depending on how “public” you want to be. Rule of thumb? If you’re interested in truly networking with others, show as much information as you want, as long as you do not give away too much personal information, such as your street address.

Summary. You have up to 2,000 characters to tell your story, so why only include a few sentences? There are characters limited to all of LinkedIn fields, including all of those described above. Here’s a webpage with those limits; I think this is very useful. There’s even a secondary page link from the character count page in which you can figure out how many characters you have.

So, take your time and figure out what you want to say. Make it more than just a bio; try making it conversational in first person. Instead of saying, “Joe provides tax and accounting services to a diverse client base,” say something like, “I help clients in the manufacturing, healthcare and nonprofit industries grow their companies through custom tax and accounting services.” Expand on these ideas and use all of your 2,000 characters!

Confession time … as of this writing, I haven’t done this to my own LinkedIn page, so forgive me! I will get to it soon.

Add a Link and Upload a File. These two additional fields in the Summary block are useful, and you’re probably not using them. If you have a video on your website, either produced by you or something from one of your software providers, add a link to it.

Experience. Here, you’ll want to add your current position, as well as any previous positions, but this comes with a few caveats:

  • Every time you add a new position, LinkedIn automatically sends an update to your network in a weekly newsletter that lists any connections that have new positions. In my case, for example, I added on a consulting position I’ve had for several years – and in just a few minutes, colleagues were congratulating me on getting a new job. I am doing my best to explain that I still have my practice, but it’s hard to send out word to everyone. LinkedIn has a box on the right side of the page called “Notify Your Network.” I wish I had known about this at the time, so my tip here is to uncheck this box if you don’t want to send updates to your connections. If you forget, the good news is that you gained quite a bit of exposure along the way.
  • The positions you list under Experience are the ones that show up in the drop-down list when you invite someone to connect with you, so keep this point in mind when you’re listing your experience.

Other Things to Know About. Here are few other areas you can complete with additional information:

  • Publications – anything you’ve written or published.
  • Educations – complete this, of course.
  • Interests, Personal Details, Organizations – all good to have, but again, be careful about including too much personal information.
  • Posts – you’ll see this at the top of the page. If you have a blog and/or write articles, you can upload them here.
  • Status Update – just like Facebook, this will allow you can post something short about what you’re doing or what you’re working on.

What Do You Think?

One of the plusses about social media is that it can be customized however you like, so I would be interested to know how you’re using LinkedIn and how it’s benefitted your practice or business. If you’ll comment below and provide a tip, I will correspond with you offline and send you something special for your time.

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