If you’ve been dragging your feet about getting on LinkedIn, or you’ve taken the leap, but only got as far as uploading your outdated resume and a picture of your dog, read on! You need to be clued in as to why this career-networking site is worth the effort, and how to make it work for you.
What’s all the fuss about?
Networking: Even if you are not currently job hunting, it is likely you will be at some point in the future. The time to create a robust network on LinkedIn is now, not when you need it.
Learning: LinkedIn is filled with specialized industry and professional groups, where you can learn more about your profession, share best practices, learn about issues in your field and more.
Moving up: Today, human resource managers often use LinkedIn to find the right person for the right job; if you are not on LinkedIn, you could miss out on a new opportunity to be in the running for what might be your dream job. Or at least one that pays better.
Staying ready: Your LinkedIn profile is like a resume, but because it is online, it is easy to keep current with your most recent accomplishments, awards, promotions and skills. When you decide to look for a new position, you are ready to roll.
How to sell yourself
Photo: This isn’t Facebook. So forget using a cartoon icon avatar or a selfie that looks like a duck-lipped mug shot. You want your picture to exude professionalism and approachability, which means you need a real smile and a tightly cropped image of your chest and face. To nail this part, considering hiring a professional photographer who does headshots.
Headline: Right under your name is a headline. A shortened version of this is what people will see when they do a search on LinkedIn. Make sure those few words include what you do professionally and why people should want to connect with you. Think of it as your “elevator speech.”
Clean copy: Treat your profile like a website; that means no grammatical or spelling errors. Write your profile first in a Word document so you can spell-check before you post. This also is a good idea because you’ll be able to save it to your hard drive in case of an Internet-server glitch while posting.
Use keywords: Make sure you use keywords for your industry in your professional headline, summary, recommendations and education, so that your profile turns up during pertinent LinkedIn searches.
Highlight useful experience: Don’t just copy your resume under the “Experience” heading. Instead, take this opportunity to tell people what you’ve accomplished and what you can do for them. Also focus on specific results and accomplishments that set you apart from others. Finally, make an effort to offer precise results. For example, instead of noting that you increased sales significantly, state that you increased sales by 20 percent in one year.
Keep It Short: Make it easy for someone reading your profile to find your achievements and contributions to your employers.
Update it: Have you taken or taught a course lately? Helped your firm or a client meet a new goal? Received a recent accolade? Don’t let your profile look like it’s dead in the water. Keep it fresh to show that you aren’t complacent or stagnant.
Personalize your URL: Many people overlook this easy opportunity to get their name into their LinkedIn URL. Click on the edit button and personalize your URL so it includes your name, not the random numbers and letters LinkedIn assigns you.