LinkedIn celebrated its tenth birthday May 5. With 225 million members worldwide (over 77 million of them, in the US), LinkedIn has carved a niche for itself as the social network for business professionals.
Because it serves as a hub to showcase job experience, skills, and education, LinkedIn focuses more on words and less on images. However, its recent profile redesign organizes those words in tidy modules and offers new options for uploading visual content.
Profile Strength: All-Star
In the “olden days” of LinkedIn (three months ago), the user’s goal was to create a “100 percent complete profile.” That challenge has been replaced with a prompt to achieve “All-Star” profile strength.
“All-Star” reminds me of a Little League baseball team and doesn’t seem particularly fitting for a professional network. I wonder how the strength meter ranks people who haven’t reached All-Star status: Pathetic Loser? Lazy-Bones? Under-Achiever?
I certainly don’t want those monikers associated with my profile! Even with the cheese factor, I’d rather be an All-Star. So I revisited my profile to freshen it up. And I discovered, to my dismay, that while LinkedIn deemed me an “Expert,” I had not yet achieved All-Star rank.
Eager to claim the cheesy-yet-desirable All-Star ranking, I made a few minor changes to my profile. Follow these ten simple steps and you can join me as a LinkedIn All-Star.
1. Upload your business portrait.
LinkedIn users routinely ignore connection requests from people whose profiles don’t display a photo. Claiming you don’t have a good enough picture of yourself is no excuse. If you want to be perceived as a professional, act like one. Invest in a business portrait session with a freelance photographer or photo studio. For around $150, you can obtain the rights to use your headshot in all your marketing materials.
2. Use your real name.
LinkedIn’s database alphabetizes all connections by last name followed by first name. If people know you by your nickname but you use your full name in a work environment, put your nickname in parentheses: Jonathan (Jon) Doe. It is acceptable to include a title such as Dr. or Rev.
3. Craft an enticing headline.
After your name and photo, your headline is the single most-viewed element on your LinkedIn profile. The headline displays prominently on your profile, in search results, messages, groups, invitations to connect, company page employee listings, and in popups when LinkedIn users hover over your image.
When you write your headline, ask, “What words and phrases would someone who’s searching for me use?”
Highlight your expertise with those keywords in your 120-character headline. Make your profile searchable by entering your geographic location and industry directly below the headline.
4. Summarize your expertise and experience.
In the Background Summary module, you get 2,000 characters (about half the length of this article) to introduce yourself in a conversational yet professional manner. You can upload or link to portfolios, presentations, photos, and videos from a huge list of service providers including Pinterest, twitpic, Forbes, Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube, Spotify, Scribd, Slideshare, Word.
A little side note:
When you add a job position in the Experience area, there’s an option to check a radio button so you can display your current job in the Headline area. If you check the button, it will override the other content you put in the Headline area.
5. Describe three job positions.
In the Experience module, add your current position as well as two previous positions. As you begin typing your company name, LinkedIn auto-searches for a corresponding Company Page. When you select that Company Page, your profile will link directly to it and will list you as an employee.
6. Highlight your education.
Outline educational experiences relevant to the position you seek or the industry in which you work.
7. List skills and expertise.
This is the “social proof” area of your profile where your LinkedIn connections will endorse you for various skills. To achieve All-Star rank, you must list at least three skills and can enter up to 50 areas of expertise.
8. Connect with at least 50 people.
You must have 50 or more connections to earn All-Star status. From the Contacts tab of your profile, click “Add Connections.” You can instruct LinkedIn to upload contacts from your e-mail service provider to see who has a LinkedIn profile.
9. Check your progress.
Once you’ve added the basics, check your progress toward All-Stardom by viewing the “Recommended for you” prompt in the upper right-hand corner of your “Edit Profile” tab. These prompts alert you about sections of your profile that lack content.
10. Rearrange sections.
Grab the two-way arrow located at the top of each module and drag sections of your profile up or down.
This allows you to highlight your most compelling attributes to people who are checking out your profile.
Connect with me on LinkedIn:
Blogging Bistro Company Page: http://www.linkedin.com/company/blogging-bistro-llc
Laura Christianson’s profile: www.linkedin.com/in/laurachristianson/
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