I started on LinkedIn in 2007, and it has been a great tool to use in my business and career. I’ve taught several classes on using LinkedIn and optimizing profiles at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education in Harvard Square. In the process, I’ve see many of my connections making mistakes that hurt their profiles.
Here are the four things I encourage everyone to do to improve their profile.
TIP #1: PROOFREAD
When you look through LinkedIn profiles, it’s not unusual to see incomplete sentences and poor grammar, as well as misspelled names(!!), words and titles. LinkedIn is a professional network. Failing to simply check your work makes you look sloppy and unprofessional. If you get nothing else from this post, please follow this tip.
SOLUTION: Reach out to others to read your profile and ask for constructive input. However, if you do not want your profile updates shared publicly for coworkers to see, find this setting on your profile page and set it to “Off.”
TIP #2: FIX YOUR PHOTO
LinkedIn is a professional network, so you should have a professional, recognizable head shot of you. No company logos, pets, group photos or vacation snapshots. How would you present yourself when meeting a potential client or employer? That’s what your photo should represent.
SOLUTION: Have a professional photographer or reasonably capable friend take your picture. Avoid selfies. Your profile photo is cropped as a square. Ideally the image should be no smaller than 50×50 pixels, because below that your image shrinks inside the image box on your profile. The largest file size LinkedIn will accept is 500×500 pixels, or 4mb.
TIP #3: MAKE CONNECTIONS
The power of LinkedIn comes from the ability to reach a huge potential network of customers, suppliers and employers. When you add connections, your network grows exponentially. It shows you are connected in your industry and the professional community. Many employers are looking to see how well connected you are when they review your profile, with the idea that you may help attract other good job candidates and potential business opportunities.
To demonstrate the power of this to my LinkedIn students, I use the Advanced Search feature to show how my 1,200+ connections link me to 108 million people in the United States. Then I drill down to show my 100,000 links to people with “Marketing” in their title in the Greater Boston area. Still, I always have one or two students who struggle with this concept. At some point someone will ask, “Why would I want to be connected to all those people? I don’t even know them.” The power of LinkedIn is that it makes your profile available to people who have never heard of you.
SOLUTION: When you meet new people, make it a habit to invite them to be connected. LinkedIn also allows you to connect your email address books and suggest profiles of people who you already know.
TIP #4: HUMANIZE YOUR PROFILE
Many people make the mistake of simply cutting & pasting their resume into their LinkedIn profile. The resulting clipped sentences and staccato language can be rigid and uninteresting. They don’t tell enough about the unique person you were when you worked at those places at that time. LinkedIn frees you from the “Keep your resume short” rule.
Instead, tell your story. Share some of the passion you had for the work you did. Add a little personality. Build interest. You don’t need to do it for every job on your list, but you should try to share more when describing your current and most recent experiences. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but it can be longer than a tweet. If you have more to say, write a LinkedIn post.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Click here to find the next session I am teaching Cambridge. Look under the Business category for “LINK.”
The class is directed toward anyone who wants to use LinkedIn to help their career – whether to build their business network, find potential service partners or look for a job. I mostly see people who are in some phase of a job search. Some are actively looking, while others are feeling uncertainty in their jobs and are preparing for a time when they may need to be looking for new work.
I teach the class as a workshop. People bring their laptops while I look over their shoulders and help them access the multiple features available that they may not find intuitively. My goal is to make them proficient in using the tools while optimizing their profile to help them create a more compelling profile.
I have also been asked to speak to college classes, networking organizations and businesses. Contact me if you are interested in learning more about LinkedIn for your group or organization.