In the digital age, your resume doesn’t matter as much as you think it does anymore.
Is that a statement that makes you think twice? Do you feel like you disagree? Of course a resume and credentials are something that employers and potential partners look at when considering hiring or committing to a business relationship, but here’s one key component they also look at that you may have overlooked: your LinkedIn profile.
Social media has become a driving force in the world of employment and business partnerships. Looking at a black and white resume gives an employer an idea of what you’re capable of, but does it really answer the question of who you really are?
You’re familiar with LinkedIn, but are you familiar with these crucial LinkedIn statistics?
- As of April 2016, there are over 433 million LinkedIn users.
- As of May 2016, two new members join LinkedIn every second.
- As of April 2016, there are about 106 million unique visits to LinkedIn members.
- 77% of LinkedIn users reported the site helped them research people and companies prior to engagement and any decision making.
- LinkedIn is reportedly responsible for 80% of a business’ social media leads, making it almost 4 times as effective as other platforms.
This is why how you present yourself on LinkedIn is so important. The more effort and thought you put into how you represent yourself on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to make connections, get conversations started and grow your network – it’s that simple.
To to make your LinkedIn profile as professional and eye-catching possible, I have compiled a list of essential tips to get you on the right track. Open up your LinkedIn in a new tab and see how many of these tips can be put to good use.
Basic Profile Additions
Before you start making any great changes, first you’ll need to make sure your basic profile bases are covered.
1. Your LinkedIn headline.
Just like an article headline has to grab a browser’s attention in order to get them to double click, your LinkedIn headline has the same responsibility. There’s no point in simply using your headline as a bland tagline for who you are.
“John Smith – Web Design Specialist” doesn’t grab attention. “Your gateway to a great looking website!” does.
When you craft your headline, follow the latter example. Use verbs and exciting, engaging words and use your headline like a short sales pitch. These few words will be what keep someone’s attention on your page, so it’s got to be quick and catchy.
2. Your profile picture.
This seems like something simple, but you’d be amazed at how many LinkedIn users miss out on this key area of their profile.
Here’s a quick stat: when you add a professional profile to your LinkedIn page, you’re 11 times as likely to be found on LinkedIn. Some sources report 14 times as likely – so no matter where you look, the necessity of having a professional profile picture is obvious.
A professional profile picture is one that you don’t take with your phone camera with an Instagram filter. It might be tempting to post up a selfie you look good in, but spring for a paid-for photograph from a real photographer. Also, make sure you’re dressed to impress. Suits, ties, makeup, collared shirts – that’s the look you need to go for.
3. A background photo.
When you add a background photo to your LinkedIn profile page, it shows that you took the extra effort to make your profile look presentable. Think about this in terms of a resume: would you rather have a resume on your deck that is nothing but black and white text in boring lines, or something with a border, colored photos and a presentable layout?
This tip involves catching the eye of someone browsing LinkedIn, and you can sometimes work the Von Restorff effect into the equation. What is that exactly? Simply put, the Von Restorff effect is the concept that whatever stands out as different is what someone will pay attention to the most.
When someone goes through 20 LinkedIn profile pages with plain blue backgrounds, then suddenly yours pops up with a repeating background image that is something different. Who do you think they’ll remember?
4. Contact information.
This is something simple and easy you probably already have added, but use this mini checklist to make sure all this information is present on your LinkedIn profile:
- A business email address.
- Your telephone number (business and/or cell phone number – label whichever you post).
- Social media links.
- Business website.
This enables other business professionals to research you further as well as contact you through other methods if they would like to use those over LinkedIn.
5. Personal description.
If you don’t have any writing skills of your own, it’s time to start practicing. This part of your profile is where you need to give something we’d like to call a “100 word sales pitch.”
You don’t need to go above and beyond and write your whole life’s story, but craft a small blurb that perfectly highlights why someone shouldn’t want, but need to contact you in order to make their own life better.
This profile blurb also gives others the capability of identifying you. For instance, there are likely hundreds of John Smiths out there, but how many share your own personal story that you share quickly on LinkedIn?
6. A custom profile URL.
Much like Facebook allows for you to have a customized profile URL, LinkedIn follows suit. When you make your LinkedIn URL stand out, it makes you easier to identify while also giving your profile an added aspect of sharability and professionalism.
SEO isn’t just for sharable content and articles. You can also make search engine optimization work for your LinkedIn profile.
Think about key terms that fit in with your business. For instance, if you’re a catering company, consider keywords like “Toronto catering” or “local Italian catering.” These quickly sum up the point of your business and make you more searchable online.
Sometimes you also don’t have to be found just through LinkedIn to get visibility. When you optimize your LinkedIn profile for the keyword “local Italian catering,” anyone who Googles this phrase also has a chance of finding you. Discover your perfect keywords and sprinkle them in your LinkedIn profile copy.
Also, a commonly overlooked factor on any website is the link anchor text. When you edit your link anchor text to something more SEO-friendly, you greatly increase your capability to be found on the Internet. It’s extremely simple to do this on LinkedIn. In your ‘Settings,’ select the ‘Other’ option and include a keyword-rich title as your URL anchor text.
Advanced LinkedIn Copy Tips
Now that you’ve covered all of your profile basics, it’s time to get into the harder stuff. This has to do with the bulk of your LinkedIn copy and how to better sell yourself to browsers who find your profile pictures.
8. Put an emphasis on your professional skills.
Make sure you add in your skills to your LinkedIn profile. This section may seem like a no-brainer, but do you accurately know how to make yourself look enticing to a casual LinkedIn browser?
The best advice is to hone your copywriting skills. You already know you have great skills to showcase, the key is using them in a great sales pitch. Give examples of how your skills can benefit others and how you can use your skills to make someone’s life or business better in some way.
When you showcase your skills in a way that’s valuable, you’re more likely to get endorsements. Every day, 10 million endorsements are given on LinkedIn, with about five endorsements given to each individual user on average.
If you want to get a head start, network with those you already know. Get in touch with colleagues and ask them to vouch for you through this system.
9. Promote your projects through LinkedIn.
Sometimes nothing is more enticing to someone than the capability of getting in on the ground floor of something new. LinkedIn is the perfect place to start endorsing your new projects, and this opportunity is something you can use to make your entire profile more attention-getting.
Using the ‘Projects’ section of your profile, highlight the new venture you’re interested in starting or have just recently started up. You can also include an inbound link that directs them to more information about your project or service.
You can easily utilize this section as a way to both appeal to a person’s desire to be an early adopter and also engage in conversation. Addressing a new project starts a conversation, and this is how you get someone to engage you based on your profile.
10. Start posting publications.
Do you have something to say? An opinion on a business topic? Some great tips about a business subject you’d like to share? Do you have certain experience that you think may help others if you shared it?
If not, you should come up with something – and fast.
Posting publications on LinkedIn is one of the best ways to assert yourself as a true professional. When you publish a credible article on LinkedIn, you become someone who has something of value to offer others. It’s not that you didn’t before, but publishing something on LinkedIn gives someone a direct example that you have something to offer them.
Whether it’s a think piece about current industry best practices or 10 things no one realizes about being an entrepreneur, work on something you can publish. Hone your writing ability through practice, and try posting something to LinkedIn two to three times a week.
11. Start joining groups.
LinkedIn groups are how people in a similar industry or field can easily connect with one another. From connecting because you went to the same university or you’re all fathers, these groups get professionals together – and that’s something you can show off on your profile.
Find three groups that you can join – they can focus on your specific business industry or niche, then start actively posting to them. These groups show up on your profile page, and they make you easier to identify with when someone is browsing your profile. This can also give someone some extra info about you that they wouldn’t otherwise know.
Once you feel comfortable posting in these three LinkedIn groups, start finding and joining more. The more groups you’re active in, the more you can network with members. You’re allowed to join up to 50 groups, and only 16% of users are a part of that maximum number. How many LinkedIn groups can you commit to?
12. Show off your awards, honors and titles.
If you’ve received some kind of recognition, be proud! Now go talk about it on LinkedIn.
There’s a specific section on your profile to brag about your awards and honors, and this is something you need to start working on. List your most professional and important awards and also mention them in your blurb.
It’s also important to know that even second or third place in a competition is something worth bragging about. While you may feel that you should only show off first place accolades, remember that even a minor accolade is still better than what most others have to offer.
This also circles back to knowing how to sell yourself on LinkedIn. If your business is the second-best in the city, this still means you’re a great business – don’t put the focus on the number or lesser title as much as you sell the point that you are accredited at all.
13. Make your interests known.
Sometimes what connects you with another person on LinkedIn is your personal interest. When including your interests to the ‘Interests’ section on LinkedIn, consider both business and personal hobbies that you may want to post about.
For instance, say you like surfing on the weekends. Put this in your interests. It both humanizes you and gives others who also like surfing the ability to start a conversation in a casual, organic way.
This kind of personal sharing can be what gives you an added edge – it’s easier for many users to begin a casual conversation, then steer it towards business once both parties are comfortable speaking with each other.
14. Talk about your volunteer work and organizational passions.
If you really care about saving endangered animals, ending hunger or minority communities, make that known on your LinkedIn page. This can both help you connect with others and also gives you an impassioned image.
Many professionals look for partners and employees that have the ability to stand for something. Standing for something means you can be passionate and driven. To prove this point, one in five hiring managers will choose someone based on their experience with volunteering or working for/supporting an organization.
Volunteer work also shows that you’re willing to work, and work hard. When someone sees that you’re willing to work in harsh conditions or hard situations for free, they’re more likely to engage with or hire you.
15. Keep active.
Much like other social media, you need to be active regularly. How often do you post to Twitter? Facebook? If you said “daily” or even more frequently, this should be the same amount of time you spend on LinkedIn.
The more active you are on LinkedIn, the bigger your chance is of connecting with someone. This is extremely visible through your profile. When someone comes across your profile and sees you haven’t posted anything in months, they’re very likely to move on to the next more active person. When you post regularly, however, you are more likely to get views and engagement.
About 40% of LinkedIn users check the social media site every day. If you aren’t active daily, you’re missing out on millions of potential engagement opportunities. In fact, 20 posts a month is how you reach 60% of your active LinkedIn audience.
16. Know the best time to post.
Social media is all about posting content, but there’s also an added element of timing. How useful is it to post great content if you’re doing it at 3 AM and no one notices?
Here’s a little secret: when it comes to LinkedIn, the best time to post is on Tuesday from 10-11 AM EST. In general, the 10 AM to 2 PM window any day is when the site gets the most traffic. I have also found that posting to Linkedin groups during the weekend tends to get around 30% higher engagement compared to posting during the weekdays into groups. I figure that this comes down to people having some free time away from their busy work days and more time to spend in groups browsing for content.
If you are a member of groups and you have lots of content, try posting on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for a few weeks and measure your traffic in google analytics. If you aren’t posting content from your website then you can simply gauge the activity and engagement that you get on each post.
Most people think that because Linkedin is a professional network that they need to be active during the workdays, but I would suggest to try engaging and posting content during the weekends and see how it works out for you. For me it’s been a big eye opener the way I use linkedIn.
Consistency is also something to showcase on your profile. When someone sees that you regularly post content at a consistent time, and if you have good content, they will be looking forward to seeing what you have to say.
How many of these tips helped you make your LinkedIn profile better? Now that you know how to make a great LinkedIn profile, take these tips into consideration for the long-term. You’ve adjusted the basic areas of your profile, but how will the more advanced techniques work for you? Post regularly and keep active – then come back and tell us how it all worked out.