One of the big banks called me recently—not to sell me a credit card but to inquire about social media training. I asked how they found me; LinkedIn was their answer.
It’s not just the big banks who are using LinkedIn to hire suppliers and employees. It’s estimated 5 out of 6 HR managers and recruiters review your profile to decide if they should contact you.
While there are a number of LinkedIn tactics you can use to harness its power, the first step in any LinkedIn strategy is ensuring your profile is as professional as possible.
In spite of the fact business professionals are flocking to LinkedIn, some experts claim that as many as half of them aren’t optimising their profiles by completing them correctly. (I actually think it’s more than half given the sorry state of profiles I see when I’m on the social media site.)
At a minimum, you should spend a few hours to improve your LinkedIn profile so it looks professional and is optimised for LinkedIn’s search algorithm. Even if you don’t plan to use LinkedIn for social selling, your profile is important. It’s usually on the first page when someone searches your name on Google making it the first impression potential clients will have of you and your business.
It’s not that difficult to do, especially if you follow these 13 super simple steps to improving your profile I’m about to share with you.
How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile with 13 Basic Tips
To show you how to improve your LinkedIn profile, I’m going to use my own profile as a case study. I like to think my profile is professional and leaves a positive first impression, so let’s dive in.
#1 My name includes ONLY my name and isn’t cluttered with any degrees, acronyms or professional designations. There are other fields on LinkedIn for the latter so be sure to complete every field available to you … and use them correctly.
#2 I took the time to get a professional photo by a photographer. I leave a good first impression by using a close-up of just me, and I avoided a group shot. According to stats, adding a professional photo to your profile makes you 14 times more likely for people to find you on LinkedIn.
#3 A professional headline is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile. It’s the first thing people see when they search for you on LinkedIn. It also shows up every time you post to the platform. And, since your LinkedIn profile likely shows at the top of search results when people Google your name, your headline also shows near the top of results.
The default professional headline provided by LinkedIn is your current title and company. Instead of using the default, take the time to write a catchy headline that includes the keywords for which you want to be found.
Improving your professional LinkedIn headline isn’t as easy as it sounds. For starters, you only have 120 characters—and that’s not very many to differentiate yourself from competitors while appealing to hiring managers or potential clients. Stay tuned for more information on writing a terrific LinkedIn headline in a future post.
#4 I’m actually connected with more than 500 people on LinkedIn. But unless you do some digging, LinkedIn only shows your number of connections until you hit 500. People want to connect with others who are connected, so connect with at least 501 people on LinkedIn.
#5 Make it easy for people to contact you when they find you on LinkedIn. I included my email address and phone number. Not everyone will want to message you via LinkedIn when they find your profile so it’s good to provide a couple of options.
#6 If you have a website, customise the URL to be more meaningful to your target audience and to encourage them to click through. Instead of using Company Website as the anchor text, I used Financial Marketing Blog, Marketing & PR blog and Polaris Marketing & PR.
#7 Personalise your LinkedIn URL so you can easily share it with someone. When you don’t, it’s usually your name followed by a bunch of numbers that make little sense. If you have a more common name like John Smith, you’ll have to resort to a slight modification.
#8 Your summary is your elevator pitch, demonstrating your value, experience and unique selling proposition.
Since people are viewing LinkedIn online, and many people skim instead of reading every word in this format, make your summary easier for people to scan using proper online formatting such as short paragraphs with no more than 3 or 4 lines/paragraph. Break up the text with capital letters or bullet points.
I included my services in a list—it’s keyword rich so it helps with search plus it makes it easier for people to grasp immediately what I do.
#9 LinkedIn allows you to add presentations and video to your profile. A video, especially, will humanise you to anyone who finds you on LinkedIn. And presentations add to your professional credibility and showcase your expertise.
#10 Take the time to publish in order to improve your LinkedIn profile. Make it educational in nature, rather than promotional. I also recommend you publish the content in its entirety, rather than directing someone to a website to read more.
#11 Some LinkedIn experts suggest you have at least 10 recommendations. They’re key to building credibility. Of course, in an ideal world you’d never have to request a recommendation. A happy client or boss would just automatically post a positive recommendation for you on LinkedIn.
Since that rarely happens, you need to learn how to request recommendations using a personal message, and not the generic message LinkedIn provides.
And don’t forget to give others recommendations, especially when they’re well deserved.
#12 Add volunteer experience and causes to help make your LinkedIn profile more personal and include awards or achievements.
#13 Lastly, add a background image to LinkedIn to personalise your profile and make it more interesting. I’ve created a colourful image with a short tagline summarising how I help our clients: Lead Generation for Financial Marketers.
Why Improving Your LinkedIn Profile is Important for Every Business Professional
Your presence on LinkedIn is important. Even if you’re not actively posting to the platform, or using it to identify prospects or centres of influence, take the time to polish your profile.
When someone Googles your name, LinkedIn is almost always on the first page–if not at the very top of the results. If you follow these 13 LinkedIn tweaks, it will only take you a few hours to put your best foot forward.
Do you need help improving your LinkedIn profile? Get in touch.
Shelley Pringle is the regional VP, Canada for Advisor Web Marketing and a public relations professional with more than 25 years experience. She works with financial services professionals across North America helping them generate qualified leads, increase their customer base and assets under management, and improve profitability. In addition to this blog, Shelley has been published on Marketing Profs, Spin Sucks, Social Media Today and Business 2 Community.