Stop Blending In with your LinkedIn Profile!

I do a lot of workshops on using Social Media for business owners and my number one tip / place to start for anyone that’s a business owner or professional is to have a quality LinkedIn Profile (find me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/shawnkinkade).

There are other great Social Media sites and depending on the type of business you have, they may be great strategies as well.  However, LinkedIn is the place to start, the foundation for business focus for several reasons – here are the top 3:

  1. It’s designed to support business networking online…period.
  2. There are over 45 million users, heavily skewed towards professional decision makers and business owners.  These are people you want to connect with.
  3. The tools and capabilities give you a huge boost when it comes to finding people, prospects, strategic partners, vendors, prospective employees.

Unfortunately even though the platform continues to grow quickly there are lots and lots of profiles out there that are totally camouflaged and don’t stand out at all.

Here are some quick ideas to help pimp your profile!

Complete your profile!

The first tip to pimping your profile is to actually complete it.  LinkedIn gives you a great percentage complete indicator and if you’re less than 100% complete, do a quick check to find out what you’re missing and fix it – it’s generally not too hard.

For a lot of people it’s putting a picture in place, filling in multiple previous positions and getting a few recommendations.  All of those are critical to having an effective profile. 

You might not be comfortable with having your picture out there – but a picture will do 2 things for you.  It will confirm that you’re a real person and help me (and others) put a name to a face and be more likely to recognize you.  I’m not going to connect with you, send you a referral, do business  or anything else if I don’t think you’re a real person or I don’t recognize you – it’s that simple.

Also – on the subject of pictures…spring for a reasonably professional head shot or at least make sure that it’s only you in your picture and you’re looking business like.  Other social media sites might be great places to share that picture of you passed out on the couch in college – LinkedIn isn’t that kind of site.

Show some personality!

So I’ve already talked about how LinkedIn is a professional site – that doesn’t mean you have to model yourself as some corporate drone.  You’re interesting, you’ve got some reason for being – share just a little bit of yourself in the profile. (Don’t go overboard or to crazy town – there has to be a happy medium)!

Let us know why you’re doing what you’re doing (put that in the summary section).  What are you looking for that would be really exciting and important for you?  Share that kind of stuff!

Tell us about your hobbies, where you went to school.  That’s what makes you more of a real person…and as we already discussed, people do business with other (real) people that they Know, Like and Trust.

Customize your Profile!

Finally, make sure that you create a headline (the part right below your name) that talks about what you do.  If you’re a creative type, go crazy!  For the rest of us, summarizing what you might say at a networking event is a good place to start.

Most people don’t realize it, but you have the ability to customize the websites description (you get three of them – see mine below).  Instead of choosing My Website or My Company in the dropdown menu when you’re editing the field, choose Other and you get the opportunity to write in whatever you want it to say.  Not only is it more informative and customized – it’s also really good for Search Engine Optimization on your site (assuming you use a description that matches your site…).

***Note – another good idea for the customized website links is to use that point people to a particular product page, landing page or maybe even a report that’s on your site that they can download.

Shawn's LinkedIn Profile

Finally – claim your name for your public profile.  My profile is /in/shawnkinkade (see above).  That’s great for Search Engine Optimization on my name and it’s much easier to share with people.  If you’ve got a common name, you may have to get creative and go with a hybrid variation, a nickname or even a mashup with your company name.

I’ve really just scratched the surface here – what other tips have you seen for customizing your profile?  Share your thoughts below, I’d love to hear them.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

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