Many people put up a LinkedIn profile — and an inadequate one at that — and then forget about it.
For business and professional people who are looking for prospects or employment opportunities, having an incomplete profile on LinkedIn is a waste of space, time and energy.
Before I get into how you can make your profile sing, here’s a tip before you begin: First go to Settings and uncheck the “Turn on/off your activities broadcast” box. If you don’t, each change will go out to your entire network every time you save it. Finish all your updates first, and then turn on your activities setting. That way your connections will be notified just one time.
So are you ready to beef up your profile? Let’s go!
Know your ideal client. Create a complete portrait of them — age, sex, where they live, annual income, number of kids, what car they drive, education level, marital status and so on. And the most important part: What are their pain points and how can you solve them?
Use a professional portrait. Not a flower. Not your pet. And please, no selfies! Your photo should be current (within the last few years) and taken by a professional photographer. Reserve the candids for your personal social media pages.
Use your first and last name (at least). There are more than 350 million LinkedIn users worldwide, so chances are excellent a bunch of people will have the same name. Consider adding your middle name or initial, or your maiden name if you’re married, but absolutely use your full name. Otherwise, it looks like you’re hiding something. And why are you on LinkedIn if you’re hiding?
Use capitals and lower case. Using all lower or all upper case looks like you don’t care. If you don't care, why should anyone else?
Make your headline sing. Use plain language — say what you do and focus on how you help others — in your headline. Keep it short; under 77 characters (with spaces). After that, LinkedIn will cut off the rest of your headline in your status updates.
Lose the initials and acronyms in your headline. You are understandably proud of your professional designations, but most people have no clue what they mean. And they say nothing about how you can help other people. Add those acronyms in the summary, with a full explanation of what they are.
Use keywords. Imagine you are looking for someone with your qualifications and experience. What would you search for? Pepper those keywords (three to five) throughout your profile, including your headline. This is not a creative writing exercise; it’s about getting found.
Fill out as much as possible on your profile. You never know what will resonate with a reader. Maybe you went to the same school or belong to the same fraternal organization or grew up in the same city. Your goal is to connect on a personal level; people do business with (and hire) people they know. You want people to know as much about you as is appropriate — emphasis on “appropriate.”
It’s not about you, it’s about them. Your summary should contain about three paragraphs about who you are, written in first person; the rest should focus on who you serve and how you can resolve their pain points.
Use plain language throughout. You may be killer at MSCA and submitting HCS codes, as well as generating OKOS demonstrations — but what the heck does that mean? What does a supply chain manager do, anyway? Use terms that the general public will understand and in a way that shows your underlying skill set. This is especially important if you are looking for a new job in an unrelated industry.
It’s going to take a while to get this done, but you want your profile to reach the vaunted All-Star level — and this is how you do it. It’s worth the time and effort. Keep your profile current, add any new honors or skill sets as you go along.
Your LinkedIn profile can be a powerful business builder — make it the best it can be.
Jackie Harder is the president of Key Dynamics Coaching and Consulting. She is a success coach for mid-life and mid-career professional women. Key-dynamics.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spreading the Word is a new monthly column that will feature professionals sharing thoughts and advice on branding and social media. To be considered, send submissions of 750 words or less to rclarke@MiamiHerald.com.