LinkedIn is the social network for business professionals and networking. With over 135 millions members to date, it’s one of the most popular social networks to date. Are you using it to its fullest potential? While we hear a lot about Facebook and Twitter for lead generation, LinkedIn can be just as good, if not better, if you spend a little bit of time optimizing your profile. Because of my background in the legal realm, I’ve helped hundreds of professionals with their profiles, now it’s your turn!
Here is the ultimate cheat sheet for creating your LinkedIn profile:
1. Use a professional picture that you wouldn’t mind your mother-in-law or grandmother seeing. This is not the time for shirtless pics (men) or bar-star, duck pouts (ladies). Despite what people say, first impressions count. You don’t necessarily need to have a suit and tie, but make sure you consider your audience, your branding, and what kind of message you’d like to portray. Your profile picture must be square, be no larger than 4MB and be in a JPG, GIF or PNG file format.
2. Create a keyword rich, customer focused, headline. This is the shortened version of your profile that appears to the right of your profile picture. Search engines crawl your LinkedIn profile. Sprinkle in some keywords relating to your job position and/or services your clients might be searching for. For example, if you’re an attorney, don’t write “lawyer”. Try and write something a bit more interesting focused on your practice area and what you specialize in.
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3. Update your status. Like Facebook and Twitter, you can update your status on LinkedIn. These updates will appear on the home page of all your connections. Post information related to your business, your industry and any information your network will find useful. Don’t over promote yourself. I use the 80/20 rule: 80% educate – 20% promote. Comment on other status updates too. I always notice it when one of my connections comments on one of my status updates as it doesn’t happen as often.
4. Claim your Vanity URL. Make your profile look more professional and easier to find by claiming your vanity URL. Mine reads http://ca.linkedin.com/in/samanthatcollier. If I didn’t change the end part to my name it would have a bunch of letters and numbers. Make sure you go to your profile and set up your Vanity URL asap. It’s easy to do and makes you look like a LinkedIn Ninja.
5. Personalize your website URLs. LinkedIn gives you three website slots. Instead of using the predetermined standard text My Website description, change the text to make the links more descriptive. If you have a blog, change the URL to the title of your blog. If you have a website, change the name to your domain. Customize your links by editing your profile, clicking edit on your website links, and selecting “Other” in the drop-down menu to customize the anchor text.
6. Add your Twitter account information. LinkedIn gives users the ability to share their Twitter account information on their profile. Visitors to your profile can follow you on Twitter without leaving the LinkedIn website which is always a plus. This is a definite must-do for the Twitter rockstars out there! I’ve followed many people directly from their LinkedIn profile. You can also share your LinkedIn status on Twitter, and vice versa. I don’t recommend syncing all your status updates but a couple here and there should be fine.
So there you have it, six steps to create a fully optimized LinkedIn profile. I’ll be adding some more tips soon on how to incorporate relevant applications such as events, answers and Tripit. What other LinkedIn tips and tricks do you use to create a rockstar profile? Share them in the comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!