There seem to be two types of people who are on LinkedIn. Those who realise just what a useful tool LinkedIn can be, and have made a real effort to make their profile look interesting as well as readable, and those who just have the bare bones, and aren't completely sure why they're there, or how to use it.
The first thing though before you establish your profile and work out exactly how to use LinkedIn, is to understand what you want to use LinkedIn for. Are you looking for a job? Are you looking for connections in your industry? What do you want people to find out about you?
It’s important to do this first because much of your profile building and how you describe yourself will be based on this, including some of the terminology you use.
I want to be found on LinkedIn for what I do and the services I offer, and so I’ve optimised my profile accordingly and that is the starting point which links to everything else on my profile. You need to do the same.
Here are 5 Easy Steps to Improving your LinkedIn Profile
1. Change to your custom LinkedIn URL rather than stick with the URL that has a load of meaningless numbers at the end of it and makes you look as if you're not sure what you're doing there.....
2. Put up a picture – don’t think for a moment you can get away without a picture of you. Not funny or silly as you might do on Facebook or Twitter, but one that reflects who you are and what you do. Not to have your picture on LinkedIn looks as if you may be hiding something.
3. Use the Summary area to outline in detail what it is that you do, and outline your work, highlighting the more relevant aspects of what you've been doing, and for whom. You want to make all of this sound interesting, not over-wordy but not as if you can’t be bothered. People will read as much or as little as they want to. Make sure you give them the choice and allow your readers to find out about you. LinkedIn is a tool where you need to sell yourself or really there’s no point in being there.
4. List your experience. Put as much information as you feel you need to for each position or activity you've held or undertaken. But don't short change on this area. Too many people don't bother here and this is one of the areas that visitors to your page will really want to read.
5. Then add your Interests to your LinkedIn profile. These should not be work related but say more about you as a person. Just as you list your ‘hobbies’ within a resume you should make sure you complete this area. People considering employing you or utilising your skills want to know if you’re an active person or a couch potato. What you enjoy doing says a great deal about you so cut out the nonsense and be honest.
Ask people who you have worked with to recommend you on LinkedIn (as long as you can be fairly sure what they say will be positive rather than negative). I personally don’t pay much attention to LinkedIn Endorsements as anyone can endorse you, even if they don’t know you (I’ll probably be disconnected by some for saying that). Recommendations from people you have worked for carry far more weight.
Don’t accept everyone on LinkedIn who asks you to connect. Yes you can have 100s of connections in a jiffy but what is the point? You want people who are relevant to you, and who may be useful in the future.
LinkedIn is a really powerful tool that can connect you to so many people who may/will be of interest to you. Work out why you want to be there. Optimise your profile in accordance with that. Make some connections with people who interest you and you’re away. This is just the starting point though. Keep going back and making sure that your profile is up to date.