20 Tips to a Successful LinkedIn Profile

by redstorm

You’ve probably heard how important LinkedIn is becoming in business, such an integral part of your personal executive branding. You have a profile but you’re not getting much traction in terms of real results or a visible revenue stream.  It all takes time and time is probably one of the commodities that you just don’t have… Right?  Having a successful LinkedIn profile is not easy but we think there are a few key areas that will pay big dividends…

1.  Treat your LinkedIn profile like a website:

Make sure it is formatted, clean, and free of spelling and grammatical errors.  I strongly suggest creating your LinkedIn profile first in a word document – not only so you can “catch” errors, but also so you can get a better idea of what your profile will look like on the LinkedIn website.  In some sections of LinkedIn you can also pull in bullets and special characters.  Alas – still no bolding or italics other than what LinkedIn itself formats. Another bonus, if you’ve already created your profile in a Word document, sections of it can easily be copied into other social media platforms to keep your branding unified.

2.  Know your keywords:

Like any website, LinkedIn’s internal search engines weigh your keywords heavily in its searches.  Make sure you place your most important search or keywords strategically throughout your profile.  Some places you might want to consider are your:

•             Professional Headline
•             Title Fields
•             Specialties
•             Interests
•             Recommendations
•             Education (Activities and Societies)

3.  Keep your name clean:

Put only your first name in the first name field and your last name in the last name field.  If someone is searching for you by name, LinkedIn will have a hard time finding you if your last name looks like this:  Jones, Dr. Mark P. (markjones@gmail.com)

4.  Keep your photo professional:

I recommend a close up and a smile. A full body shot of you and your family, you and your car, you and that fish you caught last week is unclear and unprofessional.  I have seen some artists use artistic renderings of themselves – which is clever if your image is still clear. LinkedIn doesn’t like logos.

5. Don’t ignore the “post an update” function:

LinkedIn’s update function is much more robust than it used to be (taking some tips from Facebook and Twitter).  People can now “like” and “comment” on your updates – which helps to build relationships within LinkedIn which play a big part in your becoming successful on LinkedIn.  And with the introduction of LinkedIn Signal, the update section can now be a functional part of your SME (Subject Matter Expertise) and content strategy.  Make sure you take a little time each day to “like” and “comment” on the updates of network as well.

6.  Personalize your public profile URL:

Make sure your public profile reflects your name, your business, or your area of expertise: http://linkedin.com/in/carolokelly  or http://linkedin.com/in/linkedinexpert.  Nothing says, “I’m a LinkedIn neophyte” like a public profile that reads:  http://linkedin.com/pub/firstname-lastname9890734-akjshfiho

7.  Personalize your websites:

When you edit your website, the drop down menu gives you the option of “other”.  When you click on that, a new field opens up that allows you to type in your business name, website name, call to action, or description of your website.  So instead of “Company Website” or “Personal Website” this section can read “Social Media for SMEs” or “Click here: Taxation Updates for 2013”

8.  Juice up your “Experience” section:

“Experience” is not your resume. Make sure the jobs you choose to list support each other. Make sure you put all your keywords in the title section.

9.  Utilize the “Experience” description area:

Use the 1000 characters in the description section to tell people why they should hire you or your company or buy your product.  Tell a “save the day” story.  Put in a testimonial.  “Experience” is a great place to list “wins”, different companies you have helped, seminars or workshops you have presented, a mini-shot of your personal website.  Use this section as the foundation for your Company Profile

10.  List your “additional education”:

Make sure you list your certifications and licenses as well as traditional education. LinkedIn has now added new sections where you can list areas of expertise, publications, patents licenses and certifications.

11.   Get Recommendations:

LinkedIn tells you your profile is complete with three recommendations.  I suggest between 5-10.  And when you are asking for recommendations, provide a bulleted list of your skills, strengths and services so people will write a more complete recombination and not: “She’s great”.  If you are comfortable doing so, you might write a recommendation that the recommender can use or base their recommendation from.  You might want to add some of the better recommendations to your website.  Ask for recommendations from thought leaders in your field, old employees, and well-known clients – these all go towards you becoming successful on LinkedIn and being able to see real results.

12.  Join strategic groups:

Join groups in your own market or industry, your ideal client’s industry, groups that you are interested in, groups that your target prospects are members of, alumni groups, open groups and some big groups (Consider LinkedHR with 370,000 members).  Once you join a group you can send a message to strategic members /prospects or invite strategic members to connect with you. In the next week or so I’ll be doing further posts on Groups and the best ways to manage them and use them strategically to your advantage.

13.  Create a group:

Consider creating an open or closed group.  Make sure you, or someone in your company is tasked to moderate it to keep it interesting and relevant. Make your group a destination and active forum.

14.  Limit the invitations you send out:

You only get 3000 invitations in a lifetime – use them wisely.  Even though LinkedIn gives you the tools to upload your entire list, make sure you only invite people who are already on LinkedIn and don’t invite more than 2500 people – leave a few invitations for the future. At this time you cannot buy more invitations.

15.  When inviting others, tell them how you know them:

LinkedIn used to have an IDK “I don’t know” button that could get you in a lot of trouble.  Now a person’s response to an invitation is “Accept” or “Ignore”.  Nevertheless, when inviting someone to connect with you, I highly recommend telling him or her how you know them or why you want to connect.

16.  Use “Answers”:

The answers section is a great place to position yourself as an SME or thought leader.  Answer enough questions and you can drastically increase your exposure on LinkedIn as the “go to” person.  It’s also a great place to get ideas for blog articles, or to re-purpose blog articles you have already written!

17.  Always be courteous:

LinkedIn is a business-networking site.  Be courteous.  Try to Answer Inmails, messages, and requests for introductions within 72 hours.  Remember your “Please” and Thank you”.  Help someone out.

18.  “Give” more than “Get”:

LinkedIn is a great place to get information, to get connections, to get clients, to get employees.  But follow the golden rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Don’t spam.  Don’t infiltrate email boxes with constant sales messages.  Instead share valuable information via your groups, updates and answers and let clients come to you.

19.  Use Applications:

Everyday LinkedIn is adding more useful applications.  You can embed up to 8 in your profile.  Take a look and see which ones will be most useful to you.  I recommend their blogging apps (either Blog Link or WordPress), Slideshare, Google Presentation (to show YouTube Videos) Amazon Reading List (especially if you are an author or have published an eBook).

20.  Life Long LinkedIn Learning

Continually try to keep up to date with the changes going on in the LinkedIn platform and learn how to use them to your best advantage. Keep an eye on LinkedIn blogs and articles and make use of tips on this site to make your profile and company pages as engaging and as relevant to your target audience as possible on an ongoing basis.

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