The topic of LinkedIn profiles has come up a lot in the last little while and it’s got me thinking–what makes a great LinkedIn profile? What are some best practices?
I personally have made many meaningful connections through this professional social network. It’s a great opportunity to connect with potential employers, collaborators, colleagues, business owners, and dates (yes, I’ve gone on a LinkedIn date, and it gets that pesky ‘what do you do for a living’ question out of the way).
It’s also a great place to creep on people from high school and see what they’re up to (I just tell myself it’s a more productive version of Facebook creeping). I’m always surprised when I see a former classmate’s profile and it’s barely complete. No photo, no details, no contact information. Not only does it not make for very fun creeping, but considering the connection opportunities in the LinkedIn world, it seems silly not to take full advantage. Why not complete a few fields and achieve LinkedIn All Star status?
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
To help you make your LinkedIn profile as great as it can be, I’ve compiled a few tips with help from some LinkedIn connections I made this year, including social media engagement specialist Sepy Bazzazi, and SEO specialist Laure Sabini. I asked them for their help because optimization for the web works best when you spend time on your content, keywords, and social media.
Know Your Audience
The Summary section of your profile is where you sell yourself with words. Before you sit down to write the summary of your professional self, take some time to think about your audience. This is true for all writing, and especially for LinkedIn because it’s a specific kind of network.
LinkedIn connects people on a professional level. What is your professional goal with your LinkedIn profile? If you’re using your profile to try to get a job, write to your potential employer. If you’re trying to sell your services B2B, write to other business owners and speak to their needs.
If you’re trying to sell direct to consumer, LinkedIn isn’t really the place for that, but you can make other valuable business connections, so it’s important to define what those connections are before you begin. What you might say to a consumer could differ greatly compared to a conversation with a possible business partner, so think about how the benefits you provide would differ to those two audiences.
Tell Your Story
What makes you special? What do you enjoy about your job? What brought you to this point in your career? Your Summary is like the About page of your website. What is it about you that makes you different? Why would someone choose to work with you over someone else in your field?
For more tips on telling your story in a compelling way, check out my post on How to Connect with Your Audience Through Storytelling.
You don’t have to tell your entire life story in the Summary section and what busy professional has time to read it? I say this often in my copywriting tips and I’ll say it again: be concise and structure the content so it’s easy to read. Scannable sections are much more pleasant than giant, uninterrupted blocks of text. Include a few highlights, a note about what drives you, and the most important part…
Don’t Forget Your Call to Action
LinkedIn has a handy little tab containing your contact information, but that doesn’t mean you should forego your call to action. Finish your Summary with the most important reason someone should connect with you, and how they should do it. Sometimes people like being told what to do, because then they don’t have to think about it too hard.
Optimize for Search
Now that you’ve written your content, it’s time to make some tweaks that will optimize your profile for search. I asked Laure Sabini, Website Optimizer and Owner at Laurizon, to provide some of her best tips.
Research and Add Keywords
Prepare a list of keywords your potential customers/buyers or employers would search for to find you. You can get ideas by looking at your competitors’ profiles. Your list should include four main keywords for your ideal job title, and 20 other keywords related to your job.
Once your profile is 100% complete, add the four main keywords wherever you can throughout your profile, including your Summary section, Experience, and even your Volunteer section. Focus on adding keywords in headings and descriptions wherever possible, and also within link anchor text. As with any optimized content, don’t overuse the keywords–the content must still be pleasant to read and not obviously targeted at search engines.
Optimize for Credibility
Optimization is as much about including searchable keywords as it is about optimizing the experience for your profile viewer. A fully completed profile shows you’re serious about making professional connections. Laure’s other tips for optimizing your profile:
- Aim for at least 500 connections to show you’re an expert in your industry.
- Ask for recommendations from your connections (Profile>Recommendations>Request Recommendations).
- Join groups, follow companies, and follow news in your industry.
- Add links to your website, blog, and social media accounts.
- Use a professional photo.
- Customize your URL using your first and last name.
- Update your status daily by liking and sharing content from your connections, and sharing your own content.
Sepy Bazzazi of SocialBaz Marketing Co. has a few tips for beefing up your LinkedIn presence using your other social networks. Sepy notes that LinkedIn should be thought of as a separate social network that requires a unique strategy–it’s not the same as Twitter or Facebook–and that people expect YOU to be behind your profile, not your Social Media Marketing Team.
- Invite your blog readers, mailing list, Facebook contacts, Twitter friends, etc. to add you as a connection.
- Ask people you’ve worked with to recommend your work with a written testimonial.
- Ask your connections to endorse your skills. Ask them to specifically endorse you for four or five skills (such as social media, marketing, online marketing, etc.).
- Include a link to your public LinkedIn profile on the footer of your outgoing emails, mailing list emails, business card and other pertinent collateral you produce.
- Join LinkedIn groups and engage with members to expand your reach beyond your direct connections. ‘Groups You May Like’ is a great feature to check out.
- Is your organization bigger than just you? Look into creating a LinkedIn ‘Business Page’ as a professional marketing tool: http://marketing.linkedin.com/company-pages/.
- Take some time every day to add new connections. The more connections you have, the more people you will be exposed to.
- Use LinkedIn’s ‘Profile Strength’ meter to tell you how complete your profile is. Your goal should be ‘All Star’ with all sections complete.
By following these tips, you should be able to improve your LinkedIn profile and start making more professional connections. Why not start now and connect with us?
Image credit: Esther Vargas