Just 12 years ago, it would have been unimaginable to access 380 million professionals from more than 200 countries with the click of a mouse. Today, that far-fetched vision is a reality for registered users of the LinkedIn® professional networking site.
But is simply having a LinkedIn profile enough? (Take our LinkedIn quiz to find out.) Once you have one, it’s up to you to tap its career-boosting potential by taking advantage of opportunities to make your profile stand out among a sea of like-named individuals. Here are five ways to do just that:
Dan Sherman, author of Maximum Success with LinkedIn, has a formula for writing a winning title: “You want the benefit, and then you want credibility,” he insists. For instance, “Sales executive who closed over a million dollars in sales in first three years” paints a picture of a candidate’s abilities and track record more than the bland title, “Sales representative,” says Sherman.
Did you know you can customize the banner across the top of your LinkedIn profile with a graphic? Sherman found a freelancer online to create a made-to-order banner. The result? An attention-grabbing graphic that reinforces his personal brand while taking advantage of a valuable marketing opportunity for a very reasonable price.
“If you’re not using that real estate, it’s a waste,” he says.
You can find for-hire graphic designers on sites such as Upwork or Fiverr who will create a customized banner to support your career goals for minimal cash. “At the very least, upload an image of something that speaks to who you are and is in alignment with what people looking at your profile are interested in,” adds Viveka von Rosen, CEO of Linked Into Business and author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day.
“Absolutely take advantage of multimedia opportunities,” advises Sherman, “especially in your summary, where you can attach all kinds of cool stuff.”
Whether they’re looking to buy a new car or book a hotel room, people today want to hear what others think before they make a commitment. It’s called social proof, and it’s no different in the professional world where hiring managers look to LinkedIn to vet potential job candidates.
That’s why it’s important to collect recommendations and endorsements from others in your network. “You can’t manage who is going to endorse you,” cautions Sherman. But you can manage what they endorse. It’s important to edit your skill set so your contacts are endorsing you for the expertise that matters most in your industry or field.
Although sometimes you may find you’re endorsed by people you’ve never worked with, recruiters and hiring managers look for these commendations as a matter of course. “It’s still a numbers game, and people pay attention to that,” notes Sherman.
No, this isn’t the same thing as posting a link to an existing blog post or white paper. LinkedIn allows you to post long-form content that may not fit on your regular profile page. The benefits are clear: Your content is searchable both within LinkedIn and on the Internet. Publishing enables others to follow you on LinkedIn, and your content gets archived on your profile page. It also helps position you as a thought leader in your focus area.
Von Rosen explains it takes about 15 minutes to replicate your content on LinkedIn, and you’ll likely reap the benefits of this effort in spades. “You have the opportunity for your content to be seen, shared, linked and amplified way beyond your network connections,” she says. “It absolutely makes sense to replicate it.”
Although your plain-Jane LinkedIn profile might be cutting it, it’s worth your while to put in the time and work to enhance it beyond a bare-bones presence.
“You have exposure to 380 million people around the world who may be in a position to send you incredible career opportunities,” concludes Sherman. “To me, it’s a no-brainer.”