LinkedIn Strategy Guide, Part 1: Getting Found in Searches
At the core of any personal LinkedIn strategy is the focus on making connections with other professionals and businesses. With this focus comes three main aspects:
- Getting found in searches
- Reaching out to others to grow your network
- Connecting with groups and companies
In this 3-part LinkedIn Strategy Series, we'll take you through these elements and point out the important actions you need to take for each.
Getting Found in SearchesThe key to getting found in searches and thus get found by people who are looking for your particular skills is ensuring that your profile is filled out as much as possible. LinkedIn is constantly adding and updating the different types of information you can add to your profile, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest LinkedIn news. Subscribing to their news emails (under the Privacy & Settings, Communications tab) or their blog is a great way to do this.
Mini ProfileThe first part of creating your easy-to-find profile is setting the 5 elements of your “mini” profile:
- Name This may seem self explanatory, but your name is the first thing that people will see when they look for you. If there are others who share your name, using a distinguishing shortening or middle initial is a good way to stand out. Additionally, if you have any titles or certifications (i.e. Doctor, CFA, etc.) make sure they are included.
- Professional Headline If you have many different positions or titles, use this space as way to describe what you do, making sure to focus on the highest ranking items. For example if you are a high-profile consultant in addition to being an executive in the design business you could user a headline like "Experienced Design Executive and Consultant"
- Location This information will help people in your area to locate you, but it's important to target the right region. For example, if you are physically located in the Westchester area, but have a New York City client base, you want to put "New York City Area" as your location, and not Westchester.
- Industry LinkedIn, unfortunately, offers a fairly limited list of industries, and only lets you select one. Find the one that best fits your primary focus.
- Photo Profiles that do not have a photo set will display a generic grey silhouette icon and looks very unprofessional. Having a photo ads authenticity to your profile and lets people get to know you better. This photo should be professional and appropriate – not a photo of you at a party or a family barbecue.
Primary SectionsRegardless of your industry there are 6 sections that you should make sure are filled out to their fullest:
- Summary This your place to introduce yourself to others. It can be a simple paragraph explaining what you do and what kinds of connections you are looking for, or as complex as a few paragraphs about your experience, history, and goals. Whichever you choose to write, make sure it is professional, but still has personality.
- Experience In this section, like a resume, you’ll want to add all of your past and current positions. Fill out as much of the information about each position as you can, including the location, date range, and a description of your work there. When entering the name of a company, you’ll notice that LinkedIn will give a list of companies – these are companies that have pages available on LinkedIn. If yours appears on the list, be sure to click on it as this will link your profile to that company giving people and businesses yet another way to connect with you.
- Skills & Expertise This is a relatively new section that LinkedIn has added. It allows you to list areas of both technical skills and professional expertise that other LinkedIn members can then “endorse” you for. Be generous with the number of skills that you list as it will increase your potential to be found by others.
- Education Just as with the “Experience” section, you’ll want to add as much information as you can to this area, and also link to your schools if they are listed on LinkedIn already.
- Additional Info This area lets you list your interests – this can be both professional and personal. You can choose whether or not to list your marital status and birthday as well as information about how someone can contact you. If you have any special steps that need to be taken to be reached (i.e. only on phone on Monday-Wed), you should list that here.
- Honors & Awards The title for this section is somewhat self-explanatory. If you have received any awards, honors, hold any special titles or have been recognized in a special way, this is where you would list it.
Secondary SectionsThese other sections are optional, but should definitely be completed if it is relevant to your industry:
- Projects If you are in an industry that works using a project-based model, this area will allow you to showcase projects that you are most proud of, have gotten publicity, or best showcase your talents.
- Languages If you are fluent in more than one language, you would list this here.
- Publications If you are a published author or have contributed to publications, you can list that information in this section. Again, fill out as many of the fields as you are able to for the best result. You can list contributors or authors other than yourself as well.
- Test Scores If you are a recent college graduate or in a profession that requires testing for certifications, you can showcase your test results here. It is advisable to make sure the scores you share are positive ones only.
- Courses If you are still in school or are taking any continuing education courses that would be beneficial to your industry, you can list them here.
- Patents If you hold any patents you can list them here. Be sure to fill out all fields that you are able to.
- Certifications If you hold any special certifications within your industry, it is important to list them visibly in this section. You are able to know if/when a certification expires.
- Volunteering & Causes If you spend time volunteering or aiding special causes, even if they are not directly related to your professional life, you can do that in this section. This is a great way to showcase things in your life that you care about. In this section you are also able to list organizations and causes you support and if you are available for volunteering opportunities.
All of the sections listed above are able to be reordered however you would like on your profile page. It is recommended to keep the sections that are most relevant to your industry towards the top of your profile so that potential connections won’t have to scroll too far to find it.
With all of these elements in place, your profile will be properly optimized so that people in your industry will be able to properly find you in related searches. Getting found means a higher chance for a job offer, new connections, or new business. Next week, in part 2 of our 3-part LinkedIn Strategy Series, we'll discuss reaching out and connecting with others to expand your network.
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