How to Enhance Your LinkedIn ProfileBy Allie Shaw
With LinkedIn being the largest and most publicly accessible resource for professionals in every industry to connect with one another, it is no wonder there is article after article on ways to build out and improve your LinkedIn profile. Whether you are a CEO or a college graduate, this one is for you. Beyond touching on the basics, this article focuses more on actionable steps to best utilize LinkedIn. Since it’s 2021, the year of numbered lists and short reads, I’ve outlined 4 ways you can enhance your LinkedIn – from the lens of an executive recruiter.
1. The Basics
Contact Information – If you want to connect with your network or give people an opportunity to connect with you – put your contact information on your profile. Include your email address at a minimum and your phone number if you are open to it. This is especially crucial if you are looking for your next opportunity – you would be amazed at the number of people a recruiter will come across who are looking for new opportunities and provide no contact information. Take the guesswork out of it by putting your contact information in the space LinkedIn allots or even at the end of your profile summary. You can do this in two ways – By making your contact information available publicly on LinkedIn, or by keeping your information accessible just to those you are connected to. Do not let your business card be the only key to your inbox.
Profile Picture – It may seem frivolous, but it adds a level of polish to your profile that is to your profile that is important to your current and future network. Coming across a profile without a photo, or with a grainy photo where you cannot identify who you are looking at sends the message that your profile is either incomplete or outdated. Think about what your photo says about you as a professional in your industry. Whether you are looking for a job or building your presence on LinkedIn, keep your audience in mind. A photo of you with a giant salmon can make sense if you’re in the fish business… But makes less sense if you are trying to be the next CFO at a large corporation. Use a professional, high resolution photo so people can quickly identify and engage with you without having to first figure out if you are the person that they are looking for.
About Section – Do not skip this. This section is used to highlight not only your current and past career achievements but shed light on who are you are as a person beyond your LinkedIn profile. You have the opportunity here to talk about your career progression and passions in a more social tone that will engage the reader to know more about you and your interests. It can be as short or as long as you’d like, as long as it’s engaging and speaks to who you are. Do not limit yourself to your experience section.
Experience – Be sure you’re not just including your current position. As you are constantly changing and evolving with your career and industry, your LinkedIn should follow that same evolution. Include jobs that help the viewer envision your career progression story.
There are millions of titles out there, but most are only meaningful with context. Are you a Director at Google with X employees globally or are you a Director in a start-up of 10 employees? Context is everything. Do not assume the reader will know what your title or company entails, or they will come to their own conclusions. You can describe your company and responsibilities in a way that is easily digestible for the reader while still including the quantifiable parts of your role. Be sure to tangibly outline the value you have contributed at the organizations you were a part of, rather than just listing out your day-to-day responsibilities. Hiring executives and Recruiters are far more interested in the value, contributions, and achievements than they are in a general list of job functions.
Education History – Education can include the obvious like the degrees you have earned, but it can also include key certifications you have earned or ongoing education you have focused on. The key here is that details really matter. For example, if you list University of Utah but no degree info, I might assume that you attended but never finished. If you attended school, list your education achievements and when. If you attended but did not finish school, list what and why. Take the time to include this information instead of letting others come to their own conclusion on why you left that section blank.
2. Follow Industry leaders – Join Groups
This tip is not only an advantage to you and your professional growth, but could pay dividends for your company’s growth as well. Following industry leaders within your space – whether a direct competitor or a service your company uses or might use in the future, can help you not only stay on top of what is trending in the market, but where opportunity, innovation, and creativity lay within your given space and with the companies you directly work with or against. Being informed helps you and your employer make better decisions in the long haul. This applies to following industry individuals as well – Follow that person you heard that one time at that one conference and felt inspired by. What are they doing now? What are they investing in, or putting out into the market? What can you do to collaborate or learn from them? Use industry leaders as a way to inspire and innovate your current practices. Joining relevant groups is another great way to do this. Don’t forget that both of these tips can be used as resources as well.
3. Stay Engaged
Stay engaged with your network by liking, sharing and commenting on your peers wins and losses. Your insights could help someone someday, and be returned the next. LinkedIn has started to evolve from just a place to post your professional experience, to a community of professionals to share what they’re working on and working towards. By staying engaged with others’, you expose yourself to that persons network as well as have a potentially engaging conversations from someone you otherwise wouldn’t have. I’ve come across many leaders, potential candidates, and new LinkedIn connections just by engaged with my network. Leverage LinkedIn as you would any other professional community. Invite people to connect and follow groups you are interested in. Staying connected with current and former colleagues has never been easier and your ability to develop a robust network has never been better.
4. Be a Thought Leader
Don’t be afraid to share! Be a thought leader in your domain. No one else has your exact background, experience, or lessons learned. You never know what connections it might lead to or who it might help. Being a thought leader doesn’t require any specialized education or background and gives you the opportunity to share insights about your industry or focus in an informal and thought provoking way. Whether that’s how to enhance your LinkedIn profile or your best tips for how to manage projects remotely, your thoughts are worth sharing and there are people who want to learn from you.
Though these tips have been simplified and condensed, don’t feel daunted by them. Use these tips as a guideline to help you engage more with LinkedIn and its community. Apply whatever practices best work for you as an individual and how you can use these tips to transform your relationship with LinkedIn and the community within it.