Sharpen Yourself: Get Found On LinkedIn
Guest article by Steven Tylock
What sort of a presence have you built online? If a recruiter had the perfect opportunity for you, and typed in all of the keywords in a search on LinkedIn, would your profile show up in the results? If a potential customer searched for terms related to your specialties or services on LinkedIn, would you get noticed near the top of the list of results?
Inside The LinkedIn Personal Trainer, I present a program that teaches readers how to use LinkedIn to find, get found, and network your way to success. That middle component – Get Found – is significant!
In March 2008, Joe Katzman and I had an email discussion after I commented on “Sharpen Yourself: LinkedIn & Social Networking Sites.” In response, he offered me a follow-up DID article with LinkedIn profile advice. Sub-sections include:
- To Participate, Or Not To…?
- Expect that people will evaluate you based on your profile
- The LinkedIn Headline
- LinkedIn’s Summary and Specialties Section
- Positions, Education, Interests
- Quick Tip: Web Sites
To Participate, Or Not To…?
The first thing I’m going to suggest is that LinkedIn may not be for you. That is, you may not want to maintain a public profile of any kind. In that case, don’t start. It’s you, it’s public, and while it’s not a huge amount of work, you do have to create and maintain it. Don’t start if you want to remain in the shadows.
On the flip side, don’t avoid the site because you think it’s ineffective. LinkedIn is very effective when developed and used. People that develop their profile get found, and that opens up opportunities. You can, too.
Don’t avoid the site because you think you’ll get spam. The system is not a source of spam – the only people that get your email address are those that you agree to connect with. It is never visible in the clear, unless you go and embed it in your profile information.
Finally, don’t avoid the site because you think you’ll have to pay to use it. The free version is fine for 90% of the people that will want to use LinkedIn. You may decide to upgrade your account, but you shouldn’t feel that you have to do so.
Expect that people will evaluate you based on your profile
Every time someone looks at a profile on LinkedIn, they’re going to make an assessment of the person behind the profile. It’s OK to start with a quick listing of positions and chronologies, because that gives you the ability to find and connect to people you’ve worked with at those places. If you’re going to participate, however, don’t stop there. Come back to it when you have a moment, and take the time to build out and refine your profile. Keep tweaking it as you notice or remember important things.
Consider some typical categories of profiles. Does your profile fall under any of those categories?
- Profiles that has numeris errers in spellung and grammar.
- Profiles that consist only of the individual’s name, their current title and employer, and perhaps the name of the university they attended.
- Profiles that include a bare listing of jobs or add a few descriptions, which begins the networking process but doesn’t convey much of interest.
- Profiles that clearly establish the individual’s expertise, background, and passions.
The LinkedIn Headline
Your headline goes under your name. It is the single most important tag line that you give yourself. It’s visible every place your name is on the site, and has the most influence over the viewer’s impressions. What do you want others to think when they find you? Are you a job title? Do you have a position of influence? Can you stand out from the crowd?
Here’s mine: “Information Technology Executive, Strategist, Creative Thinker, Author, Speaker, Husband, Father, Child of God.”
Here’s Joe’s: “Editor in Chief, Defense Industry Daily”
Here’s some random user’s: “Contract Recruiter”
There’s no right or wrong entry, just what presents you in the way you want to be presented.
[JK: Contrasting references to my profile as a way of illustrating Steve’s points are made with my explicit permission. This one is already making me think…]
LinkedIn’s Summary and Specialties Section
The summary is is your 30 second elevator speech. It lets you lay out your platform, and give someone a good reason for getting in touch with you. The specialties sub-section lets you list the things that you’re particularly good at, or describe some facet of your capabilities at a greater level. It is specifically the “next level” of your experience.
System infrastructure professional with broad information technology experiences in servers, desktops, networks, security, applications, resource scheduling, personnel, and sales across the domains of education, business, government, and manufacturing.
Co-Founder of http://www.timelyinsights.net
LinkedIn Trainer and Author of The LinkedIn Personal Trainer
Analysis of environments leading to strategies and plans for growth and excellence.
I can talk business and strategy on even terms with businesspeople and strategists, and technology on even terms with the technologists. Translation plus effective management and facilitation = the right structure, working toward the right goals, on the right project.
knowledge management, information technology, internet, business strategy, process improvement, facilitation, on-line branding, teaching & training, international relations, project management.
I’ve seen some innovative uses of this section, but despite its status as your concise statement of value and expertise, it’s often completely blank. Think about the implications of that!
[JK: Looking at the comparison, it might be a good idea to make my summary more concrete – and there’s no industry expertise in my Specialties sub-section at all.]
The Core: Positions and Education
Your experiences, education and additional interests round out your profile. Take the time to develop them. Use the space to include accomplishments, projects, technologies, and your interesting endeavors.
The positions are especially important when they include key words and phrases that help others find you, and also aid in connecting. LinkedIn lets you invite others that have worked at the same companies – and will prompt you with names of people that have joined from the companies you include in your profile. A basic list of companies, titles, and dates will get your networking started, but you’ll need to enhance that as you revisit your profile.
The next step is a frequent topic of my coaching: improve your profile by degrees as you flesh out your “platform,” the thing that sets you apart from everyone else. As you do this, you’ll add descriptions of your past experiences, connect to people you know and trust, and get recommendations for the great work you’ve done. Note the difference before and after Silicon Valley guru Guy Kawasaki’s extreme LinkedIn makeover.
While your profile has nearly everything you include on your resume, it’s more valuable. Be concise to fit within the 1,000 character limit per position, make sure your material is cleared for public viewing, and review it when you’re done. It should present a good introduction to your range of accomplishments and skills, and show you in the best possible light.
LinkedIn doesn’t have a spelling or grammar checker, so compose your profile entries in your word processor of choice and paste them in. Remember, too, that LinkedIn supports only the most basic formatting, so make sure you review that when you perform that last online review.
Don’t forget to fill in the interests section, either – I’ve found that helpful in my own profile. It helps you be seen as an interesting person.
Quick Tip: Web Sites
There’s only so much we can cover in this introductory article, but here’s one last tip:
Make use of the ability to include your web site’s name on your profile, under “Additional Information”. It isn’t obvious, but if you select the category of “Other” from the drop-down menu, you can include the name of your web site, instead of the generic “My Website” that doesn’t mean much of anything to anyone. ;-)
Steven Tylock authored The LinkedIn Personal Trainer, a guide for LinkedIn beginners, and provides custom LinkedIn training. You can also post questions for him on his blog at http://linkedinpersonaltrainer.com.