LinkedIn is a social networking website where professionals can join together, have discussions, and network. Since LinkedIn is a professional site, each person must professionally present themselves. The number one way a person can present themselves professionally is through their profile. A well-written profile that focuses on work history and what you can offer professionally is critical. LinkedIn is not Facebook. Your LinkedIn profile is not a place to list your favorite movies, what you did this weekend, or what food you are about to eat.
Creating Your Profile
1) The first thing that anyone will see when they look at your profile is your picture. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and you want to make sure you are using the right words. Have your photo professionally taken and upload it to your profile. Now that your account has a face, it’s time to start building your profile.
“LinkedIn is a business card on steroids.”
-Tom Costello, President & Managing Director – iGroupAdvisors
2) The first section of the profile is the Summary section. This is where you give visitors information about who you are. Here, you want to include what it is that drives you, particularly, what prospects visiting your profile would like to know. Keep this section engaging and stay away from the dry, boring text. Feel free to be witty so long as you include the basic information that relates to your core business. The Summary is especially crucial because LinkedIn uses keywords from this section to determine where you show up in a search. Your Summary should contain elements directly related to what you do as a professional. Therefore, if you are a hotel marketing manager, add keywords that are directly related to that occupation. Also, be sure to use words such as “successful” or “experienced” to be included in those searches.
3) The majority of the LinkedIn profile is centered around your experience, skills, and expertise. To build your profile, you will need to gather your work history. An excellent place to start is your resume. Most of the information, including job descriptions, can be easily transferred over to the Experience section on LinkedIn. Just remember to list jobs that are relevant to the skills and expertise you are trying to convey and stay away from listing employment older than ten years. If you need help coming up with job descriptions, click on “see examples” under the description box when you are adding your work history. In the Skills & Expertise section, type in areas or fields you are knowledgeable about. For example, if you are an expert on marketing for hotels, you could type in “hospitality industry,” “marketing,” “hotels,” etc.
4) Now, it’s time for the finishing touches. List any degrees or certificates received under the Education section. If you speak a foreign language, list it under the Languages section along with your proficiency in that language. Any works you have published that are relevant to your field should be listed under the Publications section. This includes any blogs you may have posted. Under Interests, feel free to enter professional as well as personal interests. If you have ever received an award for a job well done, be sure to list it under Honors & Awards.
Once you have completed your profile, you are ready to begin networking! Keep your profile fresh by posting regularly and engage with users who will add value to your network.