My third week at LinkedIn is officially in the books.
I’m enjoying the culture, being a part of a new team, and working for an organization that is driven by transformation.
It’s only fitting that immediately after announcing that I’d be working for LinkedIn, I experienced an influx of profile views (+1,335%), and a slew of requests to review friend’s profiles followed.
True enough, using LinkedIn is what led me to work for LinkedIn – the platform works as a means to be discovered, but also to identify, connect, and engage with millions of professionals globally.
However, building a professional brand on LinkedIn doesn’t happen overnight. The key word in social media networking is work – you get out of it what you put into it.
Your social network is like a giant piggy bank – every day you deposit pennies and dimes into it (those are the connections and value you add to relationships), in hopes that someday you’ll need to “cash out” and ask your network for help which is what I did back in January (click here).
Many have asked me over the years: “Carlos, why has LinkedIn been so successful for you?” or “What do I need to do to be found on LinkedIn?”
Before joining LinkedIn as a part of their Sales Solutions team, I had been using LinkedIn on a daily basis for 7 years. During that time, I have made several updates to my profile.
Whether it’s joining and contributing to group discussions, or sending connection requests after meeting someone in person at a networking event, I have leveraged LinkedIn’s capabilities to not only build a social network, but a professional brand too.
Your LinkedIn Profile IS Your Professional Brand
Evangelizing the value that LinkedIn offers each of us as professionals is not new to me. I’ve spent years optimizing my LinkedIn profile – and in the process have taught others how to fully maximize its potential – to ensure that I would be one of the most searchable and sought-after digital strategists around.
More effective than a portfolio website, and more affordable than hiring someone to create and host your own personal blog, your LinkedIn profile IS all of the above, while also serving as your digital resume too.
To see what I mean, conduct a Google search for your name – what do you see?
It’s fairly likely that your LinkedIn profile comes up on the first page of search results, meaning, it’s tied to your digital identity and a key link to how others find and view you online – before they ever reach out in person.
Despite personally having a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, I don’t have a website or blog. Instead, I’ve invested in building my professional brand through LinkedIn – and it has worked.
During my recent period of unemployment, I would email my resume directly to recruiters and hiring managers or upload my resume on their website. However, I also included a PDF of my entire LinkedIn profile, complete with my professional summary (the new cover letter) and professional recommendations, which validated everything, I documented on my traditional CV.
Quality Connections Over Quantity
There’s a general misconception that the more connections you have, the more likely you are to land certain career opportunities and be visible to others.
In social media – whether it’s LinkedIn or Twitter – the reality is that it’s not just who you know, but who knows you.
LinkedIn is not a numbers game. It’s about building quality relationships with professionals in your network who you want to engage and do business with.
Frankly, the more people that you randomly connect with, the harder it will be for you to stay up-to-date with those who you care to remain in the know about.
Tips to Optimize Your Profile and Be Found
1. Profile Photo: Your professional image says a lot about you. Be friendly, be inviting. Be professional! A picture of you with your baby is cute, but it belongs on Facebook not on LinkedIn. First impressions matter, so make sure that your LinkedIn profile photo, which is what someone will see first before reading your profile, falls within the guidelines of professional and not personal.
2. Headline: Who are you? This should describe you and compel someone to want to view your profile. Your headline should contain relevant keywords, as seen in mine: “marketing” “social media” “strategist” “digital”. For example, if a job recruiter is looking for a “Social Media Manager” and they run a search in the directory using these keywords, I have a higher likelihood of being found. Also, your headline is the first lines of copy that are seen in directory searches.
3. Summary: Once you’ve intrigued someone to view your profile, they will immediately proceed to learn more about you. This is your one and only opportunity to make a winning first impression and could be the difference maker as to whether or not someone proceeds to connect and further engage. Tell a story about your professional journey.
4. Publisher Content: Position yourself as a subject matter thought leader in your field or industry by using LinkedIn Publisher. Once articles are published, your connections will be notified via push notification in their alerts. Articles can be shared to Twitter, Facebook, etc. and shared in groups too.
5. Rich Media Content: Publications you’ve been featured in, interviews at conferences, or case studies from projects you’ve led can be easily embedded in your profile. This content adds to the storytelling aspect that LinkedIn provides through your profile – it showcases your professional journey.
6. Experience: Think of this as an extension of your resume. Use this section to fully spotlight what you have previously done or currently do. Again, Google picks up keywords from your profile as does the LinkedIn directory so make sure that you are filling out each section of your profile. When recruiters are looking for you, or someone like you, they want to be compelled to engage in next steps.
7. Endorsements: When recruiters are searching for a “digital strategist,” they are likely to enter keywords from the job description into the search field of LinkedIn’s directory. By having your skills in your profile, others can endorse you and ensure that your skills are easily found by those looking for you. This also validates that you are who you say you are.
8. Recommendations: Ask for them and showcase with pride! Don’t be shy to reach out to current and former coworkers, mentors, or even suppliers you’ve done business with. Anyone who can validate your experience and accomplishments will go a long way in the eyes of a prospective employer. It adds credibility. During my two month job search prior to LinkedIn, my recommendations served as instant reference checks to validate much of what is contained on my resume and on my LinkedIn profile.
9. Settings: Simple point, but make sure you are searchable and that you’re able to be found – your profile should be set to ‘Public.’
10. Projects: Employers, and business prospects, are often compelled by professionals who can work in groups. Use the projects section to spotlight various campaigns or projects that you have been a part of and be sure to include those who worked with you. This shows experience in exercising teamwork.
If there’s any way that I can personally assist you, please drop me an InMail message or leave a comment below.