You already know that in corporate world, you only get one chance to make a first impression. But what you may not know, is that the “you” who is reading this may not in fact get that opportunity – your LinkedIn profile might beat you to it!
Indeed, more frequently than ever before, everyone from prospective clients and customers to potential business partners and associates are “checking you out” on LinkedIn, which is by far the world’s largest professional networking site with over 200 million members who visit more than 50 million times a week. What’s more, these people are forming opinions, making judgments, and coming to conclusions about you long before you have the chance (if ever!) to say hello over the phone or email, or go in for a hearty handshake or friendly fist pump in person.
Clearly, it’s in your best interest to have an outstanding LinkedIn profile — one that makes the fantastic first (and second…and tenth) impression that YOU want to convey. But how do you create this kind of elite profile? It’s simpler than you think – just focus on these 6 keys:
1. Create a Killer Headline
If your headline suffers from dreaded SOSO (“same old, same old”) syndrome, then to paraphrase Sun Tzu: you’ve lost the battle before it has even begun. Avoid this cruel fate by having a catchy, unique and bold headline that sets you apart, and positions you as someone that people want to connect with. It can also help to put your email address in your headline, so that you send the message that you’re accessible and responsive.
2. Add Relevant Keywords
Be sure to use relevant keywords in your headlines, and throughout your profile (which we’ll get to in a moment). Keywords aren’t just SEO friendly, but they help you stand out in a search. They also send the signal that you’re digitally savvy, which is certainly a characteristic that you want associated with your personal brand.
3. Write a Focused – and Fantastic – Profile
You know that blurb that might be on your resume – the one that describes your skills in pretty straightforward, ordinary terms? Keep it far, far away from your LinkedIn profile. Yes, people want to know what you’ve done and what you’re good at. But they aren’t leafing through resumes. They want to be impressed and engaged by something unique, authentic and written by a real person (a.k.a. YOU!). There’s so much possibility with LinkedIn to put personality in your profile. You can add photos, videos, special recognition, and so much more. And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn, either. If you don’t believe in your abilities and strengths, how can anyone else?
4. Get a Professional Headshot
I can’t emphasize this enough: if your photo is from the year 2008, or depicts you on a picnic, on a cruise, at the beach, or anywhere else that doesn’t convey the words “professional, poised and confident” then it’s time for a new headshot. As you already know, a professional image counts! Invest in a headshot or professional picture that does your personal brand justice. You’ll turn heads, and what’s more, people will come up to you at conferences and meetings and say with warmth and familiarity that “they recognize you from your LinkedIn photo!”
5. Ask Others for a Pat on the Back
One of the best features of a LinkedIn profile is the “Recommendations” section. Build credibility with endorsements by asking for recommendations from colleagues, clients and partners. Every positive comment helps build your brand. And of course, remember to recommend others, too – “paying it forward” it always a good policy. Plus, believe it or not, but some people will want to see how you recommend others – so keep that in mind!
6. Keep it Current
Things move ultra-fast in the corporate world, and it’s easy to let your LinkedIn profile gather dust and grow out of date. It’s essential that you stay on top of this, and ensure that your profile is updated at least weekly. Plus, be sure to join groups, contribute, post and share information that members within and beyond your network will find interesting. As a bonus, the more value you add, the more you’ll show up on news feeds – which will increase your name recognition and exposure in the marketplace. Don’t be the best kept secret in your industry!
The Bottom Line
A rockin’ LinkedIn profile is just one of the many ways to brand yourself as an expert in your field. Make sure your brand is consistent and noticed on all relevant social media and online platforms. You’ll attract more opportunities and increase your professional reputation by building communities who recognize you as a thought leader in your industry. Use LinkedIn as part of your online strategy to stand out – and stay ahead!