Forget all those resumes you labored over and even spent money for consultants to help you craft. LinkedIn is the go-to online resume that prospective business partners and employers go to first when thinking about doing business with you. Not sure how to leverage this platform? Here are some tips about what to include and what not to include on your LinkedIn profile:
When anyone today googles your name, one of the first citations to pop up will be your LinkedIn account…
1. Profile page.
Do: Think about your profile page as your resume. When anyone today googles your name, one of the first citations to pop up will be your LinkedIn account. Spend time on your profile page, especially the top categories. Make sure they reflect what you want potential business partners and employers to know about your business expertise. Choose a photo that is engaging — it should be a photo of someone you would want to work with. For the “Previous” section, have positions that reflect important elements in your past work history. Your “Background” should give people enough information about your work history and skill set to take the next step and contact you.
Don't: No fuzzy photos, nothing off-putting unless you are looking for work as a professional clown. Don't offer too much information on your “background” or the reader may decide you aren't the right person after all. Unless you're trying to hire yourself out as a wilderness guide, don't use your “background” to list your many outdoor activities. Save that for “interests.”
Do: LinkedIn will prompt you to do many things, among them, “endorse” others. When the “endorse” screen appears, take the time to review the suggestions and endorse those whose skills you are familiar with. You can go ahead and endorse your colleagues and business partners without waiting for the prompt. They'll appreciate it, and may return the favor.
Don't: Insincere endorsements don't help anyone. Just because a machine suggests you should endorse someone, that doesn't mean you should do it. Make your endorsements meaningful. LinkedIn is a great way to build your business connections, but keeping it real will pay dividends in the long run.
Do: You need a basic number of connections on your profile in order to have credibility on LinkedIn. That's the way it is, like it or not. For some people, a high number of connections is important (sales and marketing, consulting, communications). You need a certain number so that viewers know you take LinkedIn, and connecting in general, seriously. More important that how many connections, though, is who your connections are. Connect with the people you work with, you have worked with in the past, and the people you want to do business with.
Don't: Avoid the temptation to connect with everyone in your email contacts folder who has a LinkedIn account. Simply building up your number of connections for the sake of a “big” number isn't helpful. No one wants to go to your connections and see a bunch of relatives who are retired or still in college, or people who have jobs that have no relevance to what you do. When LinkedIn prompts you to add to your connections, don't just add everyone. Make 'em count.
Do: Get the premium account so that you can message people with whom you are connected through InMail. People's email boxes are inundated with traffic from everywhere. But with LinkedIn messages, the junk is gone. People actually tend to read most of their LinkedIn messages, because they are coming from someone with whom they have decided to have contact. The threads are still a bit hard to follow sometimes, but it's a great way to communicate without the clutter.
Don't: Just because you can message your connections doesn't mean you should treat LinkedIn InMail like a regular email account. People on LinkedIn are looking for a different experience. They don't want to be pestered for responses. They don't want to be sold to through InMail. Be respectful and stick to business as much as possible.
Do: “Views” is a terrific feature of the premium account. You do want to know who is looking at your profile. You've just sent out a proposal to a prospective customer, and sure enough, the customer views your profile on LinkedIn. Good information to have. Will they take the next step? If not, maybe you should “view” your own profile and make sure it's communicating what you want prospective clients to take away.
Don't: Just as you can see who is viewing your profile, others with premium accounts will know if you have viewed their profiles. Don't stalk! LinkedIn is not Facebook. Be respectful and stay focused on building your business through the power of your LinkedIn connections.