I often get questions from people regarding LinkedIn. When I feel the question is shared by others, I post it here on my blog for all to read.
I often hear from young professionals who want to create a POWERFUL LinkedIn profile but because they are just starting out in their career, they are uncertain how to make their profile stand out when they have limited experience. I say, DON’T WORRY! Just because you are just starting out doesn’t mean you must have a dull, boring, and mostly empty LinkedIn profile. What you need to do is approach your LinkedIn profile strategically. Here are 5 tips to help you:
1. Get a Professionally Taken Profile Pic
You are who you say you are and a picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure your profile picture depicts a savvy, on the ball professional by having a real photographer take it. You want to come across as friendly, approachable, well-adjusted and confident.
Aim for a profile picture that looks like this:
I know, you are young and just starting out… who can afford a professionally taken profile picture? You can do it. Think of it as an investment in your future. Shop around and you will find there are photographers out there that don’t cost a fortune and they even may be willing to give you a student / young whippersnapper discount. The typical cost of a business headshot is somewhere around $100.00 – $500.00. Let’s split it and say 250— that’s about 35 beers. Choose water and before you know it, you’ll have the money you need to hire a photographer.
2. FIND YOUR KEYWORDS!
A POWERFUL LinkedIn profile is a profile that can easily be found by your target audience. So the first question you need to ask yourself is… WHY ARE YOU ON LINKEDIN? What is it that you want to get out of this network?
Answers might be:
- To find a job
- To enhance my credibility and branding
- To sell my products and services
Now that you know why you are on LinkedIn, who is your target audience?
If you are looking for a job, the answer would be recruiters, hiring managers, or HR professionals. If you are looking to enhance your personal brand, the answer may be employers, colleagues, or clients. If you are looking to sell products and services, the answer may be prospective clients or current customers.
So now you know your target audience… how might they be trying to find YOU? LinkedIn is a database of professionals, for professionals. People are querying this database looking for you… the trouble is, they don’t always know your name. Without your name, they will use keywords to find you. Keywords that describe you. What are your strengths, skillsets, core competencies? What are the solutions you offer? Dynamic, problem solver, caring, and professional ARE NOT KEYWORDS! You need to get very specific. Think in terms of job titles, skillsets, applications you know, methodologies, etc…
Example: Account Manager, Salesperson, New Business Development, Sales & Marketing, Solution Selling, Technology Sales, Salesforce.com, CRM, Prospecting, Closing, Cold Calling, Social Media, etc…
Once you have your keywords, make sure you sprinkle them through your profile. You can’t be found for words that don’t exist on your profile. Use these keywords organically… this means don’t just list them but work them into sentences. We’ll get into using actual sentences in tip #5.
By adding keywords you are ensuring that your profile will be found by your target audience.
3. List out your Experiences, you need at least 3!
The Experiences section is the place that leaves most young professionals full of dread and anxiety.
“But Donna, I am fresh out of school! The only experience I have is working the counter at Baskin and Robbins!! I’m going to look like a complete neophyte!”
Forget about Baskin and Robbins! Let’s think about your OTHER experiences. Experiences don’t necessarily have to mean you collected a paycheck. I want you to think about your INTERNSHIPS and VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCES. If you are currently working, you can break out your current experience to show any promotions you received so it counts as two experiences rather than just one.
In the job description field, enter in a brief boilerplate summary of the business/organization. I’m talking about a quick 2 – 5 sentences that summarizes who the company is and what they do. You can usually find a description on the Company’s Website that you can simply copy and paste. Next thing you want to do is talk about your role and responsibilities. When did you start and what do you do for the company? End the description with 2 – 4 key accomplishments. Think in terms of results. It’s not that you created an email campaign but that you created an email campaign that resulted in a 50% open rate and brought in $5K in added revenue.
4. STOP TALKING ABOUT SCHOOL!
One of the biggest mistakes I see from young professionals is a focus on their education and school. I know you lived and breathed it for 4 years and you are proud of your accomplishments but it’s time to get over it. Once you enter the workforce, it’s time to stop talking about school and education and start talking about business results. When you are in the workforce and talk to anyone older than 25 about your school, they may seem impressed and interested but they are actually thinking, “silly whippersnapper, still wet behind the ears…” You want to be seen as a professional, not as a student with something to learn.
Be True to Your School… but you can stop talking about it
So your takeaway is to certainly mention your schooling in the Education section of your LinkedIn profile but you don’t have to go crazy talking about school in all the other sections… which brings us to my final tip.
5. A Summary that describes…
Okay, now we are at the fun part! Most people simply copy and paste their resume into the Summary section of their LinkedIn profile but that is a HUGE MISTAKE! If a person wants to read your resume, they’ll request your resume. The summary section is where you give people a flavor of who you are… it should be written in first person and as a narrative. The tone should be conversational and engaging. I like to think of the summary as your own professional MANIFESTO!
It should answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why do you do what you do? What do you love about your career? How do you impact your colleagues, the business, your clients?
- What is the future, as you see it, of your industry?
- What have you done that makes you proud? What is your major accomplishment so far?
- What are your goals? What do you want to achieve?
- What should a person do after reading your profile? Call you? Email you?
- What is your contact info?
Your summary should consist of sentences… not bullets or fragments. Click your Enter/Return key and put space between paragraphs. Make your summary easy to read. You have up to 2,000 characters. Aim for around 250 – 300 words. And finally, as you write, think about your target audience. Make sure are writing what your target audience wants to read. Your audience wants to know what’s in it for them.. so make sure you talk less about yourself and more in terms of how what you do affects/impacts your audience.
I just gave you the keys to a POWERFUL LinkedIn profile. The issue is I gave you words and it’s up to you to translate it. I recognize this downfall and so here is one more thing for you– AN EXAMPLE OF A POWERFUL LINKEDIN PROFILE. Look it over and as you work on your profile, try to get your profile as close to this example as possible.
Do you need more assistance? Check out my DIY LinkedIn Profile Makeover Kit. If you would prefer to simply hire someone to write your LinkedIn profile for you… well. I’ve got those services too.
I hope you found value in this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments… simply scroll down!
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