The other day I received this nice email from LinkedIn. Apparently, they wanted to let me know that I was one of the top 1% most viewed LinkedIn profiles of their over 200 million member site. Of course it brought a smile to my face. While, in isolation, this is no accomplishment, it is certainly a positioner into the world of business. More importantly, it compelled me to share my suggestions regarding how to best position yourself on the leading business networking site. If you don’t think much of LinkedIn or consider it an unnecessary tool because you are gainfully employed and happy in your current job, I’d suggest remembering the date you read this when you find yourself unhappy in your current position or, even worse, unemployed.
I’d also like to share some statistics that my firm has gathered from companies we’ve worked with as well as several thousand people we’ve interviewed over the past few years:
- One in four employees is hired via an employee referral.
- 80% of companies currently use LinkedIn as a source for recruiting.
- If you are under 50 years old or earn less than $100,000, you have a 27% chance of finding a job through your personal and professional network.
- If you are over 50 years old or earn more than $100,000, you have a 46% chance of finding a job through your personal and professional network.
- By simply creating a LinkedIn profile, you have an 8% chance of securing a job (4% via corporate recruiters and an additional 4% via executive recruiters searching for prospective employees).
These statistics alone should be a good indication it’s worthwhile to create a complete profile and build your network. And, these statistics merely represent the job-related areas. They exclude many other benefits of connecting with people such as visibility to relationships or potential introductions for selling or buying purposes.
Here are some of the key areas to address in your profile:
Picture. Hello! It’s the first thing someone sees (read “looks for”) when they open your profile. Oftentimes, a user has discovered your profile based on a search they’ve performed. These search results return a list of people that match designated criteria. On the left column is your picture—before they see your name! Your picture is also one of THE best memory devices for them. It’s easily remembered, even more so than your credentials. A gray faceless cartoon character surrounded by a white background in the little box can lead the user to infer you’re either lazy or hiding something. A good, professional picture is welcoming. I’d like to repeat the word professional. It’s a professional site. Leave the picture of you with your dog or kids for Facebook, unless, of course, you own a pet store or pre-school.
Activity. This is your current status or anything you’d like to share. Consider this a major vehicle to get noticed. I’d rather not see that you’re currently grocery shopping, but if you have an article you’ve written or read, you might want to share it with your connections. I also notice that employees share positions their employers are seeking. These types of updates often get circulated and draw people’s attention to you. Use it appropriately.
Background. This is a wonderful section at the top that allows you to summarize yourself. It’s most effective to include an overview and key accomplishments. You’re also allowed to attach files, presentations, videos, and a few other goodies. I have included links to one of my recent TV appearances, my organization’s corporate overview, and a complimentary copy of my first book. I realize many of you might not have these, but you can certainly attach your resume or a non-proprietary presentation you’ve prepared. Another item I suggest everyone develop is a handbill or what I call a FAB presentation—Features, Accomplishments, and Benefits anyone would realize as a result of hiring you.
Experience. I’ve heard some folks suggest not to be too detailed when you outline the information of your work history. I have absolutely no idea—nada, zip, zero—as to why anyone would think this is a good idea. While I certainly don’t want someone to send me a five page resume when I’m interviewing him for a job, I would strongly suggest you make your LinkedIn Experience section as detailed as possible. (And, make your work history, companies, and positions look identical to your resume because employers will often review your profile in addition to your resume. They are looking for connections as well to do informal reference checks.) If a user comes across it, they can simply skim over what they don’t want to read in detail. The search engine, however, has no time constraints. More importantly, it can only find you if the information is there. Be detailed. Include key words in several variations so someone who’s searching can find you. How many different ways can you say “Sales?” Business Development, Account Development, Account Management, Account Executive, Hunter, etc.
Skills. You’ve got ‘em. Cite them. These are also used for search purposes and your connections can endorse that you have them. It’s a nice touch.
Education. Put it in. It shows you’re educated, but there are other benefits which I cite below.
Additional Information. There is a variety of other incidental information LinkedIn allows you to provide, but one I find useful here is “Advice for Contacting.” It allows you to share with the public your thoughts on how to get in touch with you and the reasons you feel are appropriate to connect. It’s good to keep this updated.
Recommendations. Get ‘em. People like to see that others think the world of you. The more the better. Reciprocate where appropriate.
Groups. You get 50 of them. Join them. Use them. Even if you don’t have a ton of time to read through all the updates and inquiries, it will allow you to be connected to others within the group. If you share a group with someone, you can mail them directly without having to pay for additional In Mails (LinkedIn’s version of an email) or using up your allotted amount. You will also have visibility regarding job opportunities that members share with the group.
Connections. The more you have the better. Keep in mind, however, the quality and your knowledge of the people you’re connected to is important. You want to have a high-quality and diverse set of connections. You also want to be able to provide insight regarding the individuals should someone seek your reference. LinkedIn has several tools you can use to expedite the building of these connections by accessing your email accounts such Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and so forth. They also allow you to look for people you went to school with (which is why it’s important to cite your specific schooling) as well as people you worked with.
There are a host of benefits, tools, and vehicles to access individuals as well as share information via LinkedIn. It’s a wonderful tool with many obvious and hidden benefits. It all starts with a strong profile and good connection base. Happy connecting!