Whether you're job hunting, networking in your industry or keeping track of friends as an alternative to other social media, LinkedIn is a force to reckon with. Starting as an online resume service in 2003, LinkedIn grew to 200 million users by 2013. Tips to maximize the potential of your profile range from the simple to the sublime, helping to manage your brand -- you.
It's simple, yes, and it takes time, but it's time well-spent. Writing in Forbes in 2014, Rob Asghar says that a complete profile speaks volumes. Tech recruiter and social media agent Jorgen Sundberg agrees. He suggests putting as much detail into your profile as possible. Including work experience, education, hobbies, groups and associations might trigger keyword hits when human resources people do searches.
Post a Mug Shot
Sundberg also leads the chorus about the importance of a photograph, giving others the chance to put a face to a name, making your profile more compelling. Asghar says that a profile without a photo sends a message of insecurity, that you're not serious about making connections. He also points out that the photo you choose sends a message. "While a standard business portrait is fine, injecting some personal style sets you apart," says Elizabeth Ball, human resources manager from Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Add a bright scarf or use a black-and-white photo to stand out from your connections in color." LinkedIn is a professional network, so family photos from the beach are best posted elsewhere.
Your headline and summary are your introduction and first cup of coffee with those who visit your profile, says Cheryl Conner in a 2013 Forbes article. She advises including your main keywords and a short version of your personal brand. Tone and style for your summary, Conner suggests, are best with a business-casual voice. LinkedIn augments face-to-face networking, so giving a bit of "guard-down" perspective fills in the picture of who you are. Keep both your headline and summary up-to-date by reviewing and revising every month or two.
Use the Groups
Conner suggests joining between 10 and 50 groups to expand your network and increase your Internet presence. With more than 1.8 million groups available, targeting relevant and appropriate LinkedIn groups takes little effort. Involving yourself in a group popular with your clients is another smart move, says Conner. Post discussions and comment on others that generate strong interest to keep your visibility high.
Your relevancy is as important as staying current, and often the two go hand-in-hand. Conner recommends that you eliminate entries in your skills and expertise section that don't apply to your current career. For example, if you've just accepted the editor's position for a lifestyle magazine, your college theater arts experience may not add value to your LinkedIn profile. Adding a status every day is another way to stay visible within your network, says Conner. Sharing useful information, tidbits of trivia or links to relevant sites present you as involved and knowledgeable in your field.
Forbes contributor William Arruda points out in a 2013 article that you can wear out your welcome in your network if you broadcast every change you make while editing your profile. Fine-tuning your LinkedIn presence takes time and tweaking, so turn off activity broadcasts under the privacy controls for your profile as you make adjustments. Also under privacy controls, set "Select who can see your activity feed" to "Only you." Once you're satisfied with your profile, switch both these settings back, so your connections see the brighter, bolder you.
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