These days a resume is not enough. People hunt for you and find you on Social Media sites. One of the most popular sites for business people is LinkedIn. At WPC 2014 in Washington, D.C. I presented a Social Media 101 session on LinkedIn and how to build your best LinkedIn profile. This is something that is valuable for ALL business and individuals – if you are in business you need to be on LinkedIn. People will go there to find out more about you. If they don’t like what they see … you are done for.
Is this too brutally candid? Good!
Here is a quick summary of my session on the topic from WPC, you can always listen to the full recording in WPC Connect
Getting noticed … for the right things
Have you ever gone to a LinkedIn profile and there was no picture? How about finding the person has typos or is missing information in their profile? When this happens are you likely to want to do business with this person? Probably not. But don’t be discouraged! This post isn’t the be-all-end-all of what to include, but it’s a great place to get started. We’ll talk through a few areas you should focus on – I call them the 3 + 8 + 3 sandwich.
The first three – minimum requirements
Spend the time upfront to ensure it tells your story. These first three are table stakes. If you aren’t going to do the first three don’t bother doing anything else. Again, is this too brutally candid? If yes … good! Your LinkedIn profile defines you. It’s worth your time to make sure it’s telling the right story … and that it’s a story you approve and endorse.
You need to make sure your profile does at least a few things consistently and these first three are the bare minimum. Make sure your LinkedIn profile:
- Represents you correctly
- Represents you accurately
- And can be Easily Consumed (Brevity Matters!)
The next 8 – make it current and complete
Once you’ve tackled the basics of the first three, you need to fill in the meat of your profile.
- Current picture – It should be a professional look. Save the goofy pics for Facebook or Twitter.
- Current role – Be candid if you are looking for your next challenge. People may surprise you by reaching out and offering to help you find your next opportunity. I know it’s happened to me more than once.
- Current goals/deliverables – What are you doing now? What have you accomplished?
- Degrees/awards/activities – Don’t make them up. People WILL check.
- Professional associations/clubs/non-profit work – If you are involved in a non-profit or with youth sports let people know. These soft skills and avocations humanize you and may open up an avenue of conversation. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had have come from my extra-curricular activities.
- Recommendations – Ask for them AND Reciprocate. Offer to write a few for people you know and respect. Oftentimes they will offer to write one for you too. That’s not the goal of writing them on behalf of others, but it’s a nice side benefit.
- Skills & Endorsements – Appreciate them. Evaluate them. Think if they accurately reflect who you are and what you stand for professionally.
NOTE: In case you don’t know what Skills & Endorsements are … they are what other people think about you. They are what others perceive you to be. Use them as a mirror and a litmus test to decide if they accurately describe you.
- Have a Call to Action – This can help people move in the way you prefer. If you are looking for people to do something specific … tell them. I typically list a Call to Action in the Experience section. Where I will suggest an action of … “for more information” or “to connect with me start here” to make it easy for someone to know what I’d like them to do. Of course, they may ignore your Call to Action, but having it there is a good way to get people moving in the direction you think will help both you and them.
The last three – make it great
These last three are THE Reason you are on Linked. You want to make sure you go through the points above so that people WILL want to read on, people WILL want to consider you for their next project or open job requisition. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile does this for you, but really for the reader. You want to:
- Stand out
The ultimate goal is to help the reader decide: Do I want to do business with this person?
Need tips on how to write your profile in a way that will help you do this? Here are a few to start:
Scope the field by looking at the profiles of people you admire, people in your industry and people in the area where you want to work. This will give you a great source of keywords and phrases to describe your work in a way that is consistent with the rest of the industry and show you know your stuff.
It seems simple, but start in Word. It’s easier to see the whole story in context and to make adjustments in flow, continuity and brevity. You can also use spell-check and grammar check in Word before you publish your profile for the world to see – trust us, people DO notice errors.
Continuity and brevity matter. Why? Because people are busy and you don’t want them to have to work hard to figure out why they should be interested in you! Make it easy to consume and make sure it makes sense.
Review, review, review, then publish and continue to review. Be a brutal self-editor, and also ask for a second-pair of eyes to read, review and rip it to shreds. Seriously – let them know they can be brutally candid, wouldn’t you rather hear it from them than not hear from a potential employer? Then, after you published, continue to check-in and make tweaks and adjustments as needed.
If you have thoughts or other best practices, please share them!
This post was not supposed to cover every possible option and scenario of LinkedIn. If you have tried or otherwise seen things that work well for you please drop a comment here. Of course, you can always contact me directly on LinkedIn and/or connect with me there if you think we might be able to do something together.
Jeff is an expert in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, K2 and Gimmal. Follow him on Twitter @jshuey or on LinkedIn: in/JeffShuey