I came across a customer contact last month who doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile. truly! It shocked me, but it served as a reminder that LinkedIn is an optional opt-in option. I thought a general reminder of why it’s important couldn’t hurt, along with an update on best practice tips when writing your profile.
As for why LinkedIn is so important, the use of LinkedIn by recruiters for primary sourcing is a given. And if you’re actively interviewing for a position, expect each interviewer to review your LinkedIn profile. But don’t just think of LinkedIn as a job change thing. It is a way to create your personal brand and maintain your professional online presence.
Putting your best foot forward on LinkedIn doesn’t take long, but you should do it thoughtfully and purposefully. Here are five essential tips for doing it right.
1. Image matters. Like it or not, your image is your first impression. Maintain a simple business appearance, preferably with a smile. You likely have a proper PR shot on file. But if not, spending $300 on a professional photo is money well spent.
2. Don’t be picky. Having a strong number of LinkedIn connections is beneficial. As the number of your contacts increases, so will your visibility with decision makers. Moreover, you will be able to see and search for more people. Refuse invitations from strangers completely. Otherwise, just click “yes” to the invitations and don’t think too much about them.
People who decline invitations do so mainly out of fear that new acquaintances will ask for referrals to others in their network. Surprisingly few people actually do this, and you always have the option of politely declining the request or simply ignoring the request. Moreover, you can play around with the settings feature to reduce who has access to your other connections on LinkedIn.
3. Provide approvals. Similar to the “Like” button on Facebook, it’s now very easy to endorse people in your LinkedIn network without writing article-style recommendations. Be sincere in this endeavor, while being generous in praising others. Your communication is kindly appreciated. And yes, many will reciprocate, so be sure to include at least three skills that could be approved.
4. First person profile. And unlike my first three tips, this is not a conventional suggestion. You can even refuse it. But I encourage you to think of your LinkedIn profile as an opportunity to add to your resume, not duplicate it. Write a paragraph or two highlighting your core professional values and experience. Writing in the first person “I” is powerful. You allow the reader to connect with you, while maintaining a professional message.
No matter what writing style you choose, make an authentic statement in the introductory section of your profile. Tell the world how it should look at you. Just cutting and pasting your resume is lazy and a missed opportunity. Under the specific employer titles, you will have the opportunity to list your achievements and awards. These are the areas for resume-like material.
5. Review and update your LinkedIn profile on a quarterly basis. I covered LinkedIn in this area a couple of years ago. I admit it’s laziness to simply re-update a previous column. But that doesn’t make it a bad idea. Some themes are worth repeating! And I encourage you to treat your LinkedIn profile in the same way. In fact, I do that a lot. I recommend a calendar for quarterly review. You will see opportunities for improvements and additions.