It might not be the coolest of social networks, but there’s little doubt that LinkedIn is becoming more useful, more thoughtful and more difficult to ignore. Thanks to the power of #commscamp16 we’ve now got a fancy checklist and some top tips to get your profile flying.
By Dave Musson
I used to hate LinkedIn - like, really hate it – but something has changed over the past year. It could be to do with the fact that I have to use it every day at work to manage the University of Warwick’s page, or that I’ve been delivering training to my colleagues on how to use LinkedIn effectively, or just that I’ve given my profile the watering it needs to grow.
Either way, I’ve gone from hatred to actually (whisper it) liking LinkedIn in the space of a few months.
I’ve written that for some context, to help you understand why I pitched a session about LinkedIn at #commscamp16 – soiling the agenda of one of the coolest events of the year with something deeply uncool.
However, it turns out other people are starting to realise the use of LinkedIn too, and the discussion around the world’s largest professional network was really good.
Post-event I tweeted a quick screengrab of a very bland LinkedIn profile checklist that I’d included in some of my training notes developed at Warwick, with a promise to replace it with something ‘snazzier’ soon.
Enter Nick Winwood (https://twitter.com/nick0013) from Herefordshire Council who, in a move that epitomises the spirit of CommsCamp, offered his design services to make said snazzier version for me. A day later and I was able to tweet this thing of beauty – thanks Nick!
Dave Musson is senior online communications officer at the University of Warwick.
I could easily leave this post there – hopefully the checklist is self-explanatory. However, that doesn’t quite seem fair, so here’s a few things you can do to get your LinkedIn profile in much better shape, because the profile is king on LinkedIn.
Some quick notes before you start; first, don’t try updating your LinkedIn profile on mobile or via their mobile apps – I’ve had a better UX with an Ikea instruction manual – and second, make sure you’ve turned off the option to notify your network of any changes, otherwise your connections will be sick of the sight of you in their timelines.
Right, here we go.
Six things you can do right now to give your LinkedIn profile a boost
1. Sort your photo out
To start, make sure you have a photo that is recent (i.e. from within the last couple of years), relevant to your job (maybe save that holiday snap of you with a giant cocktail for Facebook) and that actually looks like you (so anyone you met at, say, an unconference knows who to connect with later). Profiles with photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without. 14 times. It’s a no-brainer.
2. Sort your headline out
While you’re at the top of your profile, sort your headline out too. If you’ve never touched this, it will naturally default to whatever you’ve put as your most recent job title. My job title is Senior Online Communications Officer (Social Media) – I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the world with that title, so people are unlikely to be searching for it on LinkedIn. Your headline on LinkedIn accounts for around 50% of your SEO on the platform, so make it relevant to what you actually do.
But don’t be afraid to your human side too - chances are if someone meets me, hears me speak, follows me on social media or reads a blog I’ve written, I will throw in a reference to my band WAVE (http://thatawesomeduowave.bandcamp.com). That’s the kind of thing people remember hence me adding 'future rock star' to the end of my headline. It helps you stand out from the crowd.
And don’t be afraid to change your headline and your photo as often as you need to as and when your circumstances change – there’s no limit on how often you can tweak them.
3. Sort your summary out
OK, big tip here – your LinkedIn profile is not just an online CV. The clue is in the name, it is a profile – yes, it might help with a job hunt, but take control of it and make it sing (we are mostly comms professionals after all, writing well shouldn’t be an issue!). Think of the summary as the landing page for a website about you – give it plenty of your personality, make it interesting and, if you’re feeling brave, include a call to action and actively invite people to connect with you!
And don’t forget to weave in a few industry-relevant keywords too – have a look at my profile (https://www.linkedin.com/in/davemusson85) to see how I’ve attempted it. *Warning* it includes attempts at humour.
4. Show off your work
Did you know you can add actual examples of your work to your LinkedIn profile? Well, you can! Videos, images, links or SlideShare decks can all be added to your profile and attached to a particular role, as well as being added to your summary too. They are a simple but brilliant way to really show off your best pieces of work and are another way to help your profile stand out.
A word of caution around the formatting though; unless you add either two of five items to a particular section, the formatting will be off-centre and will not match with the width of your profile. That might not bother you at all, but it bothers me deeply!
5. Review your skills
It’s worth keeping on top of what skills people are endorsing you for and that are showing up on your profile as they help people find you in searches and offer a quick at-a-glance list on your profile of what you can actually bring to the table – make sure they’re ones you want to be associated with. A social media consultant friend of mine once had some mischievous pals of his endorse him lawn care, which wasn’t ever going help grow my friend’s business. If you’ve acquired some irrelevant or unwanted skills, just delete them.
If you ever blog and you’re not posting on LinkedIn’s Pulse platform you’re missing out. The CMS is really easy to use and you get plenty of views; I’ve been sharing the same content on my wordpress blog and on Pulse all year and have received far more views and comments on LinkedIn. Also, because you can only assign three tags to Pulse posts, you have to be specific and the result is your posts get seen by the right kind of people. On top of that, your Pulse posts attach themselves to your profile, allowing you to build a body of work showing you have something to say and that you can articulate it. Give it a go!
Dave Musson is the lead on social media at the University of Warwick and is becoming more of a fan of LinkedIn on a daily basis. Got more questions about LinkedIn? Feel free to connect with Dave on LinkedIn here.
Picture credit: SMU Central University / Flickr.