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On LinkedIn, your profile is arranged in a specific order. It’s a lot like a resume, except it includes some things that your resume may not such as a headshot, recommendations, and personal interests.
Because it is a lot like a resume, try to only include information that is relevant to your business.
Even though LinkedIn asks you for personal details and interests in additional information, don’t include anything controversial or too personal. Treat this as you would your resume or CV and leave out details that you wouldn’t necessarily tell your boss.
Let’s go over the entire profile step by step.
One of the first things you will need is a professional-looking headshot. You can take it yourself or ask a photographer to do it. Check with your local schools to see if a student might want to make some extra money taking your picture. If you do it yourself, you can actually do it with your webcam if you set up the shot right. Get help doing this, if you need it.
Wear clothing that doesn’t stand out too much and ensure that the background is not distracting. Take a close-up shot of your face so that your eyes show. People want to see you, not everything else.
Next is the headline, which is the place where you put something that describes you and that people will see next to your photo in one glance. Do not use the headline as a place to put your current position or the name of your business. Use it to define what you do. If you’re a business owner, what kind of business do you have? Think in terms of keywords people will look for to find you. For best results, put several different words and phrases separated by a pipe symbol that looks like this: “|”.
Your name will appear first, so ensure that you use your full business name. Then you’ll get your keywords, and next will appear your location and the industry you’re in. These are all very important components of your LinkedIn profile that you should not skip. These are full of keywords that people will use to locate you and your business.
If you have long form publishing enabled (and more LinkedIn users are receiving this functionality each day), the next section will be your content items that you’ve posted to LinkedIn. Be sure to use compelling pictures and strong titles for your content.
Next to appear on your profile is the activity section. This is not something you edit during the profile creation process, but if someone else is looking at your profile it is something they will see. This should show you how important your activity is. Be super professional in all your activities on LinkedIn.
The next section is the background section which consists of a summary, experience, publications, skills and expertise, education and additional information. It is important to fill all of these things out completely, honestly, and with keywords in mind.
In this area, the best way to fill it out is to use bullet points and lots of white space rather than a long paragraph no one will read. If it’s easily scannable with important keyword and industry terms, people will get more out of it. Try making a list of all that you do and have done using keywords to help you fill in this part.
In the summary section you can also choose to upload videos, images and documents or provide a link to portfolios, presentations and more. This is a good place to showcase what you can do. A good choice here is to include an introduction video if you choose.
The next area is for your resume. They call it Experience on LinkedIn but as you fill it out you’ll see that it is just like an online resume. Fill this out as completely as possible, just as you would if you were applying for a job. Double check spelling, look for typos, and also remember to include keywords – including industry jargon.
A really great aspect of this section is the ability to ask for recommendations from colleagues from each position that you have had. Don’t skip that step because it will look very impressive to people who look at your profile if you have recommendations from people you have worked with or are working with now.
At the end of the Experience section you have another chance to upload more documents, videos and images or link to a portfolio to showcase what you can do or have done. This is a great place to put your portfolio if you have one.
If you’ve ever been published, in or out of school, this is a great place to add in your efforts. Not only is it a great way to market your work in an additional place, but it looks good to people who might hire you to be able to see what you’ve done in the past. It is highly advisable that you include everything you’ve published here if it’s for sale.
Skills and Expertise
In this area you simply add skills that you have and that you use. Be very selective here and only include the things you really want to do, or have done. Your connections will be notified and can endorse you on these skills. You are limited by how many you can add, so choose carefully the skills you know that someone will endorse you on.
If you have completed higher education or certifications, include them here. This is another area in which people can recommend you. If you have teachers who have been a lot of help to you, invite them to recommend you. As with some of the other sections, you can also show what you did in school by uploading images, videos and documentation.
A good thing to put here would be well-made photographs of your certificates and degrees. Another good thing to put here is if you were published in an academic journal an example or scan of your work.
This is a section you should be very careful about. Due to the fact that this is social media, it can be tempting to take off your professional hat now. But don’t. Keep that professional hat on and only fill out the parts that you really want to, and only if you can relate them to your business and work in some way.
The additional information section includes interests, personal details and advice for contacting. Do fill in the contact information that you want people to use to contact you, but be careful about what interests and personal details you reveal. They should be highly related to business.
The rest of the sections, including recommendations, connections, groups, and who you are following are also important, though you control them by your actions rather than by filling anything out. This gives you a good idea of what other people can see about you when they look at your profile. They can see all your recommendations, who you’re connected to depending upon your customizations, the groups you’re part of, and whom you’re following. These are all imperative sections to keep in mind as you interact on LinkedIn.
This may seem like a lot, but the good news is you can start with just one section, and work slowly to complete the rest. If you’re just getting started with LinkedIn, at least fill in your profile photo, name, headline, and location. Then work your way through the other sections as you are able to.
Check the performance of your LinkedIn profile over time- and remember to keep it fresh and up to date as you gain more skills and experience.
A compelling LinkedIn profile can be a doorway to interesting business opportunities!