Key tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile

With more than 467 million members (as at Oct 2016) LinkedIn is the most popular social network for professionals and one of the top social networks overall. Every 60 seconds 120 people are signing up for a LinkedIn account across the world, and 70% of LinkedIn users are outside the US. That’s the phenomenon of the digital age and increased use of technology to do business and get connected. But are you using LinkedIn to its full potential?

A good number of you reading this post are most likely already seasoned professionals of the tool, however there will be just as many readers who are not fully utilising LinkedIn to their advantage. Particularly those of you who, like many others, have made a new years resolution of some kind to ‘find a new job’, ‘build my personal brand’, or ’grow my business’. Not just an active online CV, LinkedIn can also help professionals and business owners identify and connect with potential new clients. It is professional business networking tool and a full and complete profile will ensure you have a solid online presence.

If you have ever Googled yourself (and if you haven’t yet I urge you to give it a go as soon as you have finished reading this post), you would have found that if you have a LinkedIn account, your name and most likely your photo too, would be in one of the top 3 hits. This is because the LinkedIn search engine is a massive and very powerful machine which will actively work on your behalf to ensure your profile is one of the top hits under your name. This is your online brand and very often the first impression of you is taken from your LinkedIn profile page, which is why it is key for you to ensure it’s complete and doing a great job in representing you.

Here are some key tips to help you pimp up your page to ensure your profile is the best it can be. First things first - turn of the button to notify your connections about the changes you make whilst you tidy up your profile page. Just turn the notification on the right hand side of the page to NO.

· Professional up to date photo - LinkedIn states that profiles with photos are 14x more likely to be viewed than profiles without. Not glamour photos or ones where your head is miles away, just professional looking headshot photos only.

· Headline – Be succinct - this headline is displayed prominently in your page all the time, when making comments, likes, sharing articles etc. Rather than a job tile, or your employers name, state who you help and/or what you help them with. Alternatively put up your key areas of expertise.

· Summary – This shouldn’t read like a CV. It should answer what you do, who you help, and your approach.

· Experience – Add your current job title and an overview of the role, key achievements and then at least 2 previous job roles.

· Skills – Adding skills on average leads to 13x more profile views and those profiles with 5 or more skills listed, get 17 x more views. Repeating 3 – 5 main key words (words people will search when looking for someone with your skills) will help you appear higher up the LinkedIn search ranking.

· Endorsements - Endorsements sometimes feel quite random when you receive them, often from people we haven’t worked with for a long time, and seem to have much less power and punch than ‘Recommendations’. You can opt out of endorsement suggestions completely by going to your profile settings. Best practice is to only endorse others if you have personal experience of their expertise area, as it’s your credibility on the line.

· Recommendations – Recommendations are a great way to build quick credibility with new connections, future employers and potential clients. They add validity to your profile and are a personal assurance on you and your work. It is absolutely ok to ask for a recommendation from current, or previous clients/ peers/ bosses if you had a good working relationship with them, and can add weight to whether you get an interview, or a new piece of work. Remember to thank those people who take the time to write a recommendation for you.

· Personalising your page – You can edit your URL at the bottom of the page which will help people find you more easily. If there are 5 x John Smiths on LinkedIn, personalizing your URL (online address) ensures your profile appears before others who share your name. You can also add a background to the top of your profile page. LinkedIn offer a few generic ones or you can upload your own photo or image. This helps to make your page stand out and look different to others.

Finally, ensure you use ‘key words’ throughout your profile – incorporate these into your summary, current job title, heading and skills and endorsements section - there are some great free tools to help you with this. These are the words that are important in helping you find what you are searching for. They are buzzwords, jargon and industry language and is generally how the industry or companies describe the job, profession or skills required. Keywords are critical in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to filter through search engines and social networks such as LinkedIn. Extra weighting is given to LinkedIn search algorithm for keywords in the headline, experience job, title and skills sections.

If you still aren’t sure about your profile, or would like a second opinion then I’d be happy to carry out a quick audit of your LinkedIn profile to see if it fits the bill.

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