LinkedIn is a great way to increase your reach beyond who you know to who your friends know. Remember that game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? Well if you don’t this was a game that purports the idea that everyone is connected by six degrees of separation. You could find a path from any actor to Kevin Bacon in six degrees or less.
Well, the same can be said for you, the average human. You are connected to everyone in some manner and LinkedIn.com lets you discover that connection within three degrees. But, to be found, and to make LinkedIn.com work for you, you have to focus your profile as well as your actions to ensure the best results.
1. Use a Professional Looking Headshot — This is not the time to post a clever or funny photograph of yourself. LinkedIn.com headshots should be as professional as possible and focused on your face. You don’t have to wear a suit, but make the picture so that it has a solid background that is not distracting to your face.
2. Create an Awesome Headline — Your headline appears below your name and beside your photograph. Some people want to put their current job in that space but this is a mistake. Think of what you do, not who you do it for, as the relevant information here.
3. Pay Special Attention to Your Summary — The summary area is a very special place where you can use keywords to highlight what it is that you have experience doing, that you want to do again. If you have no intention of doing it again, don’t put it here. Also don’t write a paragraph, instead use a bulleted list to make your point.
4. Add Video — Why not put up a video introduction that gives your 2 minute elevator speech. Ensure that the video looks professional without a distracting background, and that you look and sound your part. Video adds a compelling element and will make people feel like they know you even more.
5. Create Concrete Connections — When you first start on LinkedIn.com it’s tempting to just add everyone you know. But, instead of doing that, add everyone you know that is a business connection or has business connections. Be choosey with your connections, there is no rush to get lots of connections over concrete connections. Ask yourself what is your purpose of connecting with that person before continuing.
6. Ask For Recommendations — Once you’re done with your profile be sure to ask for recommendations. The more recommendations you can get for each position you’ve had the better. These recommendations profile social proof that you are who you say you are. Nothing is better than recommendations. When you ask, don’t send the generic letter offered, fill it out and personalize it reminding the person what you accomplished. Usually they’ll use your own words in their recommendation when you do that.
7. Emphasize Sections That Matter — You can toggle each section up or down, so just like a resume where you focus attention first on the things that are most important for the reader to know you can accomplish the same thing with the toggle up or down function on LinkedIn.com.
8. Remember Your Keywords — Every part of your profile where you can enter words is an opportunity to use keywords that will help people find your profile in a search. It might help to do a little keyword research first to ensure that you’re leaving no stone unturned in regards to SEO.
9. Create & Participate in Groups — Groups are an excellent way to communicate with others on LinkedIn.com and help establish you as an expert in your niche. Join a few relevant groups a week but don’t join more than you can realistically participate in. Creating your own group will also help establish your expertise. But again, be sure to keep the group active and invite relevant members.
10. Update Your Email Signature — Now that you have a LinkedIn.com profile add the information to your email signature. This will give business associates an opportunity to connect with you via LinkedIn.com when they receive an email from you.
Once you have your profile complete, it’s important to participate on LinkedIn.com by updating your status daily, as well as conversing with others who are updating their status. You can comment, like, and share just like with other types of social media. It’s important that you do this regularly on LinkedIn.com in a professional way.