This is the first in a series of posts all focused on the most powerful social media tool for building your personal brand—LinkedIn. In this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know to build a stellar profile. That’s the cornerstone of an effective LinkedIn strategy.
I am amazed by how many career-minded professionals don’t have a LinkedIn profile or haven’t updated it in years. As the work world continues to embrace the virtual world, your LinkedIn profile is you to those who don’t know you. So it’s worth spending some effort to get it into shape.
It’s best to create or update your profile as one big project—making it accurate, relevant, and compelling all at once. So, before you log on to LinkedIn, there are some things you need to do.
Collect this content:
- Any current versions of your bio you have
- Your resume or CV with your employment history
- A high-quality headshot (if you don’t have one, get one)
Create these lists:
- The ten skills you want to be known for (include a good combination of hard skills, such as data analysis, and soft skills, such as relationship building)
- Keywords for which you want to be known (these are the words people would use in searching to find you). These keywords may be the same/similar to those in the list above or they could be additional words.
Craft Your Content
Next, create the content you need. Here are the most important elements to work on:
Headline. You have only 120 characters for grabbing your audience. Your headline should include these three things: What you do, the keywords people would use to find you, and Zing. Zing is something interesting that makes people want to know more. Think of your headline as the headline of an ad. Its role? To get your audience to want to read on.
Headshot. It’s a 500×500 pixel image. Crop it so about 80% of the frame shows your face, and make sure you are looking forward or left— into your content. Avoid selfies or images where you’ve cropped out your colleague. Then name your headshot yourname.jpg and upload it. In a world that’s becoming virtual, your headshot makes you human.
Summary. This is the place where you tell your story—and you have only 2,000 characters to say it. Avoid the standard, boring, corporate bio that lists all your accomplishments in prose form (that content will show up in the Experience section of your profile). Your summary should get people to feel like they know you, and it should inspire them to want to know you even better. My tips:
- Write in the first person (it sets up a conversation between you and the reader—and everyone knows you wrote your own summary!)
- Inject an appropriate dose of your point of view
- Include about 70-80% professional and 20-30% personal information
- Weave together your accomplishments and accolades with your values, passions, strengths, etc.
- Include all the keywords you want to be known for
- Leave room at the bottom of the summary for this: AKA/Common misspellings: Then list all the ways people may spell your name, nicknames, former names, etc. This will help people find you even if they don’t know how to spell your name.
Experience. This should be the easy part. You can pull a lot of this content from your resume or CV. Create entries showing your work history. Each entry can have 1,500 characters. A few things to consider:
- Be selective. Don’t include every detail of every job you have had—especially if they dilute your brand message. Omit or minimize what is not relevant to your career aspirations.
- Don’t stick to the resume format, limiting yourself to just one entry per job title. If you are doing three distinct things under one title, create three different entries with overlapping job titles and dates. I have done that in my profile.
- Repeat the keywords you want to be known for multiple times throughout the Experience elements.
When these key elements are polished to perfection, you can easily complete your profile. Here are the other items to include:
- Skills/Endorsements: Make sure to list your top ten skills (remember you collected these before you started) even if you haven’t been endorsed for them yet.
- Education: This helps people find you through the alumni feature. Be sure to include all the schools you attended.
The final task is to fill in all the remaining items: Publications, Interests, Languages, Organizations, and Volunteer Experience.
That’s it. Once you complete these steps, you’ll have a LinkedIn profile that is current, compelling, and consistent with who you are in the real world. Then it will be time for you to start networking. I’ll cover that in the next post.
Advanced LinkedIn: For those of you who are overachievers and want to go beyond LinkedIn 101, help your profile stand out by creating a custom background. Here’s a previous Forbes post that shows you how to do it.
This article was written by William Arruda from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.