One of the great things about being a reporter is that, quite literally, I learn something new every day. Here's what I learned while researching this story: My LinkedIn profile does not rock. In fact, it may stink.
This is partly because when I filled out my profile, I didn't care. I was a busy freelancer, and wasn't looking for work. But now that Connie and I are running One Thing New, all kinds of people may be checking me out on LinkedIn – potential readers, partners, reporters, advertisers, anyone. Time to step it up.
Here's how I'm going to do it. And how you can do it too, whether you're looking for a job, trying to find new partners or clients, or heck, running an digital media company.
1. Customize your URL. This is just common sense, and takes almost no time. Left to its own devices, LinkedIn will assign you a long and incomprehensible URL. To change that, click on "Edit profile," then, "Public profile." In the right-hand column, select "Your URL" and type in a URL that actually has something to do with your name.
2. Personalize your Web site. LinkedIn lets you link to other Web sites or blogs from within your profile. I chose "Web site" and then included the link to One Thing New. Wrong! Instead, choose "other." Here's why: Choosing "other" lets you 'name' your blog or Web site. Instead of a link that just says "Web site," it can say, "Awesome resume help," or "World's best bakery." I simply chose "One Thing New." Whatever works for you.
3. Know your keywords. Recruiters use keywords to search for job candidates on LinkedIn. So why doesn't your profile reflect this? Like me, you probably didn't think about it.
Time to start thinking. Ask yourself: Why am I on LinkedIn in the first place? If your first answer, like mine, was, "I'm on LinkedIn out of some dull but undefined sense of obligation," try asking yourself what, ideally, you would like to get out of LinkedIn. Need a hint? Some 98% of recruiters say they use LinkedIn to find job candidates, compared to 33% who use Facebook, according to a survey from Bullhorn Reach.
If you want a new job, then find a few job listings for your dream job. Pay attention to the keywords used to describe that job. Write them down. If you're looking for new clients, think about the services you offer and how your clients describe them. Look at a few job descriptions, too. Again, write down your keywords.
4. Choose your headline. This is trickier than it sounds. This can be your current title, if you like. But if you're active in an industry association, you might want to use that instead. Ditto if you sit on a board. Get your most important keyword in the headline.
5. Write an ad. This is also known as the summary, and to me, it's the hardest part. Your LinkedIn profile is not your resume. It's marketing. The summary is your chance to demonstrate your passion for your work and to tell the world what separates you from everyone else who shares your title. Explain what you do for clients or employers, why do you do it, and how you do it. This summary, from Rene Shimada Siegel, is a great example. Read her summary, and you'll know instantly what she does, professionally. But just as important, her enthusiasm shines through.
Yes, you want to incorporate your keywords. Liberally. But as Jeff Haden writes in this piece about LinkedIn profiles, "Keywords are important but are primarily just a way to help [people] find you. No one hires keywords; they hire people."
6. Edit your work history. The "experience" section doesn't need to be all-inclusive. If you had jobs that don't support your current business goals, just include titles and dates for those. For more relevant experience, go into more detail. This can be more than a collection of bullet points. You can write a narrative about one of your many triumphs. Or you can plug in a short testimonial.
7. Sleep on it, then re-read it. Does it make sense? Is it coherent? Have you eliminated any typos? Do you seem like someone you'd like to get to know? Excellent! Pleased to meet you.
On some level, we almost expect resumes to be boring. A LinkedIn profile can't be. You're not listing your qualifications. You're writing an advertisement--for yourself. --Kimberly Weisul
Image courtesy of flickr user amanky