By Jane Anderson.
There are literally hundreds of articles these days on improving your LinkedIn profile, but as a Career and LinkedIn Coach who has one of the top one per cent viewed LinkedIn profiles, I still find the majority of people and businesses are not taking the time to ensure their profile stands out and captures the attention of their target audience. It really does only take a short amount of time to ensure your profile is working effectively. The benefits to your business and brand are significant.
The key is for your profile to contain a mixture of technical expertise and some dynamic front-end magic. This will really help you stand out against your competitors. In order to do this, you need to focus on both the back- and front-end of your profile, so that it not only looks great, but it also functions correctly. This will ensure that your business shows up in those all-important search results and contains appealing, consistent messages.
One of the best ways to do this is to start using LinkedIn as more of a personal branding tool. In other words, make sure you highlight what skills, qualifications and tasks that you are willing to undertake for a fee. Based on others perception of your asset base of skills, qualifications and experience, you will then influence your networks, your brand and your perceived value.
In my top 10 tips below, I have included a range of personal branding and technical tips in order to be perceived as a top value business. By using these tips, you will be sending a clear message about who you are and what you stand for. You will attract more people like you or people who you want to connect with who operate at your level, and remember their networks get to know you too:
- Have a professional photo taken. Nowadays there are so many great photographers who have included headshot photography into their business. It is a great way to look your best and remember, a first impression could be a Google search! It will also make you easy to recognise at face-to-face events, making it easier for people to come and chat to you because they remember your face. Also, make your image reflect what you do. If you want to be seen as a credible expert, make sure your image reflects this.
- Thought leadership. Have an opinion; share your knowledge, insights and articles if you read something of interest. It keeps you current, fresh and memorable, and others are likely to think more highly of you based on your interests. If you have a business blog then post this as well. This is a great way to share fresh content and it will also improve your search engine rankings. Blogs are great for engaging with your customers, while generating valuable leads for your sales team.
- Join Groups that reflect the level you are operating. Some great groups include Australian Institute of Management, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, TED, The Executive Connection, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Women on Boards and Executive Women.
- Use media plugins. A great tool for any business is to have a two-minute video of an interview with them. People want to get a sense of who you are and your personality, so share it with a video plugging into your summary and make it easy. There are some great agencies around who will film it for you. You do not have to be perfect. Natural “Umms” and “aaahs” are okay, but have it professionally filmed with good lighting.
- Treat it as a marketing document. Write your profile with purpose rather than a eulogy of your past jobs. Keep in mind the clients you want to attract in the future and not what you have done in the past.
- Keywords and Key Skills. Regularly check on the keywords that are being most sought after and ensure those words are in your profile. You can do this by checking on the www.linkedin.com/skills page. For example, “Enterprise Architecture” searches have currently increased by one per cent in the last year. However, the skill “Enterprise Governance” is up 10 per cent. It is important to cover all bases and the good news is that you can use up to 51 key skills.
- Ask for recommendations. The best way to get a recommendation is to give one! For every 10 people you ask, you normally get 5 back so do not feel nervous about asking. Also, if you can, ask for keywords to be included in recommendations. If you have written references from people who are not on LinkedIn you can still add them as quotes into your employment history.
- Ensure your title reflects the keywords that you want to be found for. If your title is “Director of Pickwick Associates”, the likelihood of someone trying to find you is very low. Ensure your title reflects what you do. For example, if you are the Director of Pickwick Associates but you are actually an IT Director, ensure your title is “IT Director, Sydney”.
- Write a BOOM summary. This means it meets the blend of keywords and of your brand. This section is limited to only 2,500 characters so I recommend the following layout:
1st Paragraph: This is your LinkedIn elevator speech and should cover your title, years of experience and what you want to be doing. For example: “Professional IT Director with over 25 years of experience in Consulting, Business Analysis, and Enterprise and Solutions Architecture within which Process Improvement, Performance Management and Business Process. Ability to liaise with internal and external stakeholders. Tertiary qualified with a wide variety of local and international experience.” These tasks also need to be the keywords you want to be found for.
2nd Paragraph: “Some of our clients include…”. If these brands elevate your brand then list them here. Ensure you put the most important information to the top of the page.
3rd Paragraph: “What some of our clients have said…”. This is a great spot to put your best quote from a testimonial or recommendation.
4th Paragraph: “Career achievements include…”. List your top 3-5 achievements. How did you help your clients? What goals did you achieve? Did you increase turnover, increase efficiency? Make sure there are numbers here that quantify what you are saying.
5th Paragraph: “How I can help you…” or “Key Specialities…”. Again, these should be based on the keywords someone would be searching for and it is a great way to repackage your keywords and double your Search Engine Optimisation.
10. Proactively Connect with others. This might seem simple but I see a lot of profiles of clients who do not connect with anybody. Research tells us that your search results will start to kick in at about 120 connections. Also, you will only turn up in search results where you are a 1st, 2nd or 3rd connection.
In conclusion, treat your page like your business website and highlight what you can do to help other people and what other customers have said about you. Then watch the benefits to your business roll in.
Jane Anderson is a professional and experienced certified career and business coach. She also assists businesses and individuals to explore their personal brand and get the best out of their LinkedIn profile. She is also the author of How to use your linked in profile for career purposes. Jane is also a successful speaker and runs regular LinkedIn workshops. More details can be found at http://insideoutcoach.com.au/ or http://jane-anderson.com.au/