A friend has a LinkedIn profile, but beyond listing his title and employer, he has nothing — nothing! — to say what he does and how well he does it. He doesn’t even have a photo.
Of course, I’m bugging him about it. “At least get a photo up!” I told him. “And then you can work on your profile.”
In truth, he’s far from the only one. Scrolling through the list of people LinkedIn thinks I may know, I found four of the first 16 suggestions had no photos on their profiles. Some people think it doesn’t matter, especially if they aren’t looking for a job at the moment. But that’s the thing. The time to build your profile and your network is when you aren’t looking for a new job.
LinkedIn doesn’t have to be intimidating. If you do nothing else, do this:
- Post your photo. Make it a closeup. Smile. Look professional. (Update: Entrepreneur posted the do’s and don’ts of the perfect LinkedIn profile photo, saying “it’s the photo that makes that crucial first impression.”)
- You have 160 characters to explain what you do. You can put your job title and employer, or you can describe what you do. (You may be a “Consultant” but better to be specific, such as that you offer “Communications training that helps clients stand out.”) Transitioning to something new? Put what you’d like to be doing.
- Fill out your summary. You have up to 2,000 characters to describe how you can help your target client or employer.
There are lots of other things you can do to strengthen your profile, such as asking for recommendations, adding volunteer work, filling in specifics of past jobs or education — but you don’t have to. There are also lots of things you can do to boost your presence on LinkedIn, such as joining groups, posting regular updates and sharing content — but you don’t have to.
Check these blog posts for more detailed suggestions about how to build your profile and used the LinkedIn network:
- How to be seen as an expert with LinkedIn
- 10 LinkedIn mistakes and 3 steps to win more assignments
- How to use social media (including LinkedIn) to find clients and build relationships
- Tips for giving meaningful endorsements on LinkedIn
- How freelancers can use LinkedIn (and how I use it)
- Tips for making the most of LinkedIn from social media strategist Jaime Almond.
One thing I see a lot of people miss is to list their past work experience, especially people who were once employees and now they run their own business. Their thinking is if their past positions have nothing to do with their current business, they think it’s better not to list those.
I disagree. Listing past experience helps in establishing general experience; it helps build connections because people who also worked for the say employers may find and connect with you.
Once the profile is complete, the most important thing to do is to use the Linkedin “post” feature. Ideally people should have their own blog-based web sites, and if so, the easiest thing to do is to re-use your own articles, stories and news updates as posts on Linkedin.
One warning about using Linkedin: Don’t Build on Someone Else’s Land.
They have, in the last 1-2 years, killed features that I found extremely helpful, such as: questions and answers, events, and recommendations under company pages. This is why it’s extremely important to have your own web site, and post all kinds of content there first, then share on Linkedin and other social media.
I agree that listing your past work experience is valuable; so is education. But my point is that you can add those things later. Just get the basics up first!
And yes, your own website is important, although this is less of an issue for those who are employed vs. self-employed. LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, etc. are forever tinkering with what they offer, giving and taking away. It’s always good to have some control over your content.
Thanks for commenting, Boris!