LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for making business connections, but its effectiveness is up to you and is dependent on the effort you are willing to put into presenting your information and keeping the data current. If you haven’t taken the time to review your profile lately, now would be a good time. At the end of the summer, LinkedIn rolled out a new look that reduces or relegates profile information to less prominent locations. You might want to look at how this has affected your profile and – if necessary – revise certain sections to put the information you consider most important up front and clearly visible. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Why are you participating in LinkedIn? To find new business; to be visible to new employers; to find new employees? Make sure you know why you are networking, and who you are trying to reach. LinkedIn should be part of your professional goals and your marketing efforts.
- Use a professional headshot. This has always been important; and even more so now because LinkedIn has given more space to your profile photo. Use a good quality, professional looking shot of your face – not a recent snapshot from a social event. If you don’t want recruiters or others to see your face next to your credentials, change your privacy settings so that only your connections are permitted to view your photo.
- Maximize the impact your headline delivers. LinkedIn has lopped off the full synopsis of the work history, recommendations and educational experience section, and so your headline has to work even harder to grab a reader’s attention. The headline doesn’t have to be your job title. Consider key words that apply to you, and use your job title only if it is helpful.
- The summary section is now much more prominent. Make the first few sentences really count. This summary should be about you – not your company. If your website is important, you might include a link here, as well as in the contact section (see below), because the link to your website is no longer displayed on your profile page. To avoid sounding self-serving, itemize the key tasks you manage on a daily basis and the measurable results you have attained over the past year.
- The contact information section is like your business card. Include all ways that people can reach you – email, phone, instant messaging, address, etc. LinkedIn has relegated website information (formerly upfront) to the contact section, and it might be appropriate to include it in the summary, too (see above), if you consider it an important marketing tool.
- Connect with care. Your network is only as useful as the strength of your contacts. Some people appear to send out invites to everyone on their email list (as they do with Facebook). If you ask to connect with someone who might not know you well professionally, consider sending a note explaining why you think connecting might be mutually advantageous.
Finally, invest a little time to explore groups that might be useful to you. There are some valuable industry and professional support groups that can be especially helpful to owners of small businesses or sole proprietors.