What is LinkedIn and Who Uses it?
If you are a professional, a recent graduate, a student or a recruiter of any active company, LinkedIn is the social media platform to learn about and use to improve your hiring and job seeking potential. LinkedIn is a professional network that launched in 2003 and targets the business community. The website allows colleagues and professional connections to network online, search for jobs and share ideas and products.
Since there are millions of members and companies represented on the platform, professionals can establish and grow a network of people they know, have known and want to know, while displaying their professional strengths and successes. Like Facebook, people can connect with their past classmates, coworkers and business colleagues and even build a web of connections with industry oriented groups and associations. Similar to Facebook, basic membership on LinkedIn is free, but those seeking a more premium membership can upgrade for a monthly fee. There is a steady stream of content which can be shared, liked and commented on and users can add articles that are based on their areas of expertise or their industry.
In this blog post, I will discuss the steps to take to set up the first impression portion of your LinkedIn profile to get noticed and get connected. Below is a list of steps breaking down various sections of a LinkedIn profile and how you too can establish your profile professionally and quickly. In the interest of saving time and boredom, I will keep each step in a list format with a succinct description of each step. I have also included a few other visual elements to help you scroll through and get started creating your own outstanding profile. If you’re ready, grab your coffee, dust off your resume or get some pen and paper to list your accomplishments and let’s begin.
Though many people focus on their professional headshot and work experience, a lot of LinkedIn profiles lack the aesthetics to stand out from the sea of accounts. One way to change this situation in your favor is to make your background call people’s attention.
Hidden behind the professional headshot is a prime piece of customizable real estate known as the background. While it’s a great idea to put an image into your profile background, there are a few things you must know before selecting this important graphic.
- Select the right image size, the current recommended size for a LinkedIn background is 1584×396 pixels, but since your profile will be viewed on many different screens, including i-pads and mobile devices, the best tip I’ve seen is to use about 1000×120 pixels and closer to the top of the image as the bottom gets cropped.
- Create your own image, Canva.com is a free resource for graphic design that is easy to use and has preset templates for social media backgrounds among other functions. A word to the wise, use a clear picture that showcases your industry or brand identity. Choose a graphic that is creative and interesting while being relevant to your profile. You can download free images at https://www.pexels.com.
- Decide what your background will do for your profile: Your background can be used to display your brand logo, company or professional slogan, advertise your wins and your results in numbers. Decide what you want your background to do and then use the space to reflect that. In the image below, the red circle shows a slogan or tagline placed on top of an eye-catching photo.
The Headshot or Professional Photo
There are some studies that posit that it takes less than a second for someone to decide if they like and trust you based on a photo. So how do you ensure that more people decide they like you than not, based on just a still shot? Luckily, whether you’re a selfie specialist or a socially awkward smiler, there are tips to help you take a better headshot and even studies that discuss putting color in the background of your headshot and the psychological reactions.
- Spring for a professional photo shoot: A professional photographer, especially one with experience capturing images geared toward social media platforms will make your life much easier. Use Groupon searches to find deals or work with student photographers to arrange a professional indoor and outdoor shoot, get digital copies of your favorite poses and ensure you get head to shoulder portraits. Check out this article on the impact of color in the headshot background for an increase in business.
- When taking your own photo, use best practices: Consider your smile your first line of defense, smile brightly, showing some teeth(don’t go all goofy here,) look directly into the camera like you would look someone in the eye you are meeting face to face. Wear clothing that represents your role or the position you’re seeking, and avoid sunglasses, full body shots(unless you model or are into the fitness industry) and zoomed in “face only” shots. I love this article on how to be more trustworthy, #2 is really surprising.
Your LinkedIn headline is the most important piece of information you can provide future employers. Some people use the 120 characters to attract recruiters, interested business connections and even get offered positions. Remember this is a networking platform and a great headline is your calling card or virtual handshake, so make it strong. Use industry or job-specific keywords to rank in searches by recruiters and companies. If you have the ability then get creative here. But, if not, make your position clear and value obvious to those you serve. Below is an example I saved from a Google search showing the creative use of the headline space by a recruiter.
The Summary Section
I’ll be honest, this section takes a lot of focus and tweaking, so expect that you will spend time on it. LinkedIn gives you about 220 characters before the read more cut off (mobile is less than half), so make it exciting enough for your readers to continue reading. Your summary shouldn’t read like a boring rendition of all your resumes. Use the first sentence or two to focus on your target audience ( employers, companies, associations, and businesses), and highlight your unique value proposition. Here are some steps to filling out the summary section.
- Use a conversational tone: I believe the rule of thumb for most content and copy should be-talk to one person. Pick your ideal boss, client or colleague and describe why you’re passionate about the job you have or the one you want. Without bragging, put your best achievements on stage and show how they can help the people you target.
- Establish Credibility: Use your experiences and achievements to describe your strengths and who you are. Let your audience know why they should listen to you and what you have to offer.
- Tell them what you do then tell them what to do next: Outline a problem, and show how you solve it. Paint a picture of the hardship your audience feels when not using you, your service or your solution, and then show them how your unique approach will benefit them. Then lead them to contact you, buy your product, order your service or hire you. Have a clear call to action that tells them what you want -close the deal.
- Make it compelling and concise-I read somewhere that LinkedIn allows a 2000 character limit but try to stay under that. Use bullet points and short sentences to make the reading easy and leave white space to give the eyes a rest. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this section, this is a work in progress, so make sure you’re editing your summary until it makes you feel good. To demonstrate this I have included a photo of my LinkedIn profile to show you how I applied these tips and made my summary more compelling and crisp. I must admit, I had to do a bit of cleanup on my profile as well and have been doing that for the past seven months or so. Check out my summary section below, including the links and photos of my brand. This article has some creative ways to write your best LinkedIn summary.
Once you have completed these steps to set up your best and most noticeable LinkedIn Profile, you will be ready to move on to part two, the experiences and skill section which gets you the real connections.
Remember, connecting online is very similar to connecting in real life, only faster. Take the time to update your professional profile and then branch out and add some connections you might know or want to know and feel confident that your profile will make a great first impression.
Until next time, happy job hunting, and much success to you. And if you need help putting together your LinkedIn Profile, do not despair, just hop over to my SERVICES page for prices on writing packages and contact me for a la carte rates.