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LinkedIn is all about connecting, but before we connect, we look for what we have in common. That’s the key to putting together a profile that jump-starts conversation. Think of your profile as a way to promote your brand — a professional permalink, a fixed point on the web to promote your skills, your knowledge and your personality. Brands build trust by using an authentic voice and telling a credible story.
The Summary and Job Experience sections of your LinkedIn profile are crucial. But you should also max out all the other parts of the platform to show who you are, what you stand for, and what you bring to the table. LinkedIn's algorithms reward fuller profiles by pushing you further up the search rankings – and in front of more of the searchers that matter. Light up your profile with your unique voice. Your Personal Tagline (that line of text under your name) and your photo are the very first things people see when they look you up. Think of this, combined with your summary, as your digital elevator pitch. You've got 5-10 seconds to capture readers' attention, so make the most of it with catchy, colorful verbs, and avoid buzzwords and jargon. Write for skim readers and optimize for mobile. (Think: short blocks of copy with lots of visual or textual signposts.) And never underestimate the power of a great professional portrait!
Think of the Skills section as your personal search engine optimizer, a way to refine the ways people find and remember you. This searchable section is the place for all the industry keywords from your resume. Top tip: keep an eye on People also viewed and Who is viewing your profile to understand who LinkedIn's algorithms think is related to you. If you don't like the matches they're making, change up the wording. Pay careful attention to keywords and keep tweaking until you get the results you need.
Less than a third of LinkedIn users post at least once a month. This is a huge, wasted opportunity. Posting keeps you front-of-mind for your connections. But it’s important to make sure you are front-of-mind for the right reasons. Boastful or self-aggrandizing content is a huge turn-off, and we all have contacts who do it. Instead, think about what you could share that would help your network. Did you learn a lot at a great conference recently? Then share some insights in a post. Do you have some specialist insider knowledge of a particular trend or development? Post to give people a heads-up. It's also good to ask for advice in a post; give other experts the chance to shine.
The company you keep says a lot about you, and when someone looks you up, they’ll see your recent network activity. Everything you've liked, shared, or commented on is visible. That's why it's critical to be purposeful about your likes, shares, and comments and avoid negativity at all costs. Instead, use your experience and passions to enhance your connections' updates and build your social capital. Try to like, share, or comment on one or two posts whenever you visit LinkedIn. Congratulate people in your network on promotions and achievements. And if you travel, let people know when you're in their neck of the woods. If you've been following their updates, you'll have no shortage of talking points.
Position yourself as a thought leader by getting active in relevant groups. Before posting, do some digging to see the most popular discussions and align with their tone and style. Commenting, asking, and answering questions is a subtle way of edging into the debate. Again, avoid self-promotion. Build credibility by helping others and contributing to the overall body of knowledge. Once established in the group, it's acceptable to reach out individually, but move slowly and always with humility and kindness.
When it comes to recommendations, think quality, not quantity. Which colleagues, clients, and employers can speak credibly about your abilities? A great way to encourage endorsements for your skills is by endorsing your connections using meaningful, helpful, and authentic comments. When reaching out to request a recommendation, ask your contacts to focus on the skills or personality traits that they think made you memorable.
Add websites that showcase your abilities or passions. Then, edit the default "My Website" label to encourage click-throughs. Plus, you'll get Google page rankings for those, raising your visibility. Maybe you belong to a trade association or an interest group; help other members find you by naming those groups. If you're an award winner, recognized by peers, customers, or employers, listing your achievements here is a great way to add prestige without bragging.
When you scan a profile and find connections in common, that person's stock with you soars. So, identify people who will boost your credibility and pursue them. But request smart. Always add a specific personal message and don't send requests to folks you have no connection with or who would have no reasonable interest in connecting with you. LinkedIn marks rejected requests as SPAM, and if you clock up a few of these, you might find yourself restricted from reaching out to people. And don't forget to give back to your network by introducing people you know who might benefit from knowing each other.
As you add more content, connections, and recommendations, your profile develops into a priceless peer-reviewed picture of your professional value. Make sure it's focused, well-composed, and easy to find. Then, get out there and start some conversations, and you'll be well on your way to your next career adventure.
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