The Power of a Complete LinkedIn Profile
By now, everyone has a LinkedIn profile, but when was the last time you updated it? With more than 400 million members, LinkedIn is the largest professional social network online today – and clearly no passing social media fad. One in three professionals has a LinkedIn profile, and the average user has 240 connections. If you’re a business professional and not actively managing your profile, you could be missing valuable opportunities to connect, network, and grow your business.
How can you differentiate yourself from the millions of professional users on the network? LinkedIn suggests that users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn, and the network makes it easy to understand how to achieve that 100% completion. Technically, LinkedIn labels your profile substantially complete when it contains:
- Your industry and location
- An up-to-date current position (with a description)
- Two past positions
- Your education
- Your skills (minimum of three)
- A profile photo
- At least 50 connections
You can certainly describe your professional self in greater detail than that – and you should if you want to make an impact.
Here are a few tips to assess the “completeness” of your LinkedIn profile:
- Capture their attention. The professional headline under your name should describe what you do, using brief, descriptive and compelling keywords. You have 120 characters in the headline to say who you are and what you do, so make it stand out. Don’t use your job title though, especially if it’s specific to an employer. For example, “experienced transportation executive” is more nuanced than “fleet, transportation, and facilities manager.”
- Make it easy to find you. Remember to include your email address, phone number, web site, and address in the contact information. Drop the cutesy email addresses that include your dog’s name; the email address should sound professional. Use your cell phone number so you’re easily reachable. Women should include their maiden name in their profile to make it easier for people to find you.
- Never forget a face. Adding a professional photo to your profile makes you 14 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn. Be sure to use an attractive image to make a great first impression.
- The summary is critical. This is your opportunity to “sell” yourself, your expertise and your company’s services. List specialties so if someone is searching on a particular area of expertise, your profile will show up in the search results. Tip: write the summary in third person, which sounds better than overusing the first person pronoun.
- Experience matters. List your current position and at least two past positions. Be sure to spell out the company name as well as the abbreviation (e.g., Rhino Public Relations, “Rhino PR”), and then link to the company’s LinkedIn page. Add a description for each company, listing the company type, your role, and notable projects.
- Include all of you. Complete the sections for education, skills, certifications, and professional organizations where you are a member. List personal and/or professional honors and awards you have received (as well as company awards for projects you worked on.) Share examples of your work on your profile, including photos, videos, published articles, or PowerPoint presentations via SlideShare. Follow the groups affiliated with your professional organizations, as these will link you to other users in the network who share these interests. If you like, include volunteer experience, interests, causes, and languages.
- Make connections. Be sure to invite contacts when you meet new people at an event. Add previous colleagues and classmates to your network, and sync your Outlook contacts with your LinkedIn network.
- Ask for recommendations. A recommendation is a comment written by a LinkedIn member to recognize or commend a colleague, business partner, or student. Ask your network for recommendations that highlight your skills and experience. Viewers of your profile often read recommendations to see what others have to say about your work. And remember that the best way to receive a recommendation is to first give one! That’s what LinkedIn networking is all about.
You might spend a few hours creating a comprehensive LinkedIn profile but it should only take minimal maintenance to keep it up-and-running. The most important thing, though, once you’ve created a profile is to post regular status updates. This will keep you top of mind with your connections. You never know where your next lead may come from so staying active on LinkedIn is one component to a successful business development strategy.