Hello, today I’m going to be talking about how to set up your own LinkedIn profile, hence the title, it was supposed to be clever but that’s up for you to decide.
First of all I should probably explain what LinkedIn is and what it allows you to do. I always like to think of it as a “professional Facebook” , which is one way to look at it, as it’s basically a social media website but for professionals, however don’t let that make you think LinkedIn is full of selfies and annoying videos appearing on your timeline, it’s in fact really nothing like Facebook, it’s completely separate and unique. Many of its features aren’t available on Facebook, due to its target audience and purpose. LinkedIn describes itself as “the world’s largest professional network”, and with good reason, it has over 330 million members worldwide, which is a huge amount, and 39 million of those are students and graduates, like you and me, who are their fastest-growing demographic (Press.linkedin.com, 2014). LinkedIn allows members to create a profile page, which shows off who they are, what their skills and qualifications are, hobbies and interests e.t.c, much like a CV, except this CV doesn’t have to be submitted to anyone, people are going to be looking for you, if you have the right things that they’re looking for and the right profile, you’ll have connections coming in no time, which are basically LinkedIn’s version of friends.
How do we create a professional profile?
This question seems like a pretty difficult one, but really it’s not that difficult at all! LinkedIn actually gives you all the tools to do it, like the layout and the sections to fill out, all you have to do is just fill in the blanks!
So we should have a LinkedIn account already, which when you create one, you can in fact upload your CV so you don’t have to fill in so many blanks, which can be very useful. It will not however fill in all of them, so that’s what I’m going to show how to do.
So when you look at your profile it should look a little like the example shown, with your name and a few other things, which may look alien to you now, but don’t worry we’ll get through them soon enough. First things first we need to get the main chunk of information filled in, which is everything in the white rectangle where my face is. First of all is your name, which should be fairly easy.
Next is the headline, Headlines are used to entice connections to visit your page, it states what you are and is one of the things users will see when they search for your name in the search bar, they’ll see your name, profile picture and headline. An example of a headline could be: “Visionary Entrepreneur and Investor”, this says what my job title is, showing who I am, and if you worked for a company you would also add that in as well.
For your location, you should just put the city and country you live in/operate in, users don’t need to know your full address, they can find that out when you are in contact with them and comfortable with giving out that information.
Industry is to make sure you get the right opportunities, the people who are from your area of expertise, and not people from a different industry asking you about something you don’t have the necessary knowledge for.
Finally there’s your previous job and education, but that part will be filled in later by the appropriate sections later on (the education and experience sections).
The next section is the summary section, this is the make or break point for if you want connections, users are either going to stay or go after reading this part of your profile, so it has to be interesting. This section wants to be light to read, so about a paragraph long and written in the first person, basically summarising yourself, what you do, how you help others, how others help you, what your dream career is, things that tell the user who you are.
An example of the experience and education sections
The employment and education sections show off your main experience and qualifications. You should fill in all of these two sections apart from your GCSEs and A-levels, you will have far too many to list and users will only really be interested in your university degree you are currently working towards. With employment you should list all positions you have had as well as your current one, show how long you worked for in that position, as well as your responsibilities for that position, try to mention any skills you also practiced while working as this will help in a later section. Your education section should show your university as well as the degree you are working towards. Including a description and any activities/societies you participate in can also really catch connections eyes, there maybe something that the both of you do. Adding any papers or presentations you work on as well doesn’t hurt, as this can provide valuable evidence of your previous work and provide a strong reason for someone to connect with you, especially if they are an employer.
The next important section we’re going to be looking at will be skills and endorsements. Skills are fairly straightforward, they are basically something you excel at or are trained in, for example Microsoft Word as well as teamwork can be two different strengths. You should probably list about ten or so skills to begin with, as you make more connections, you’ll receive more endorsements for skills. Three skills that would be good to add, providing you have them of course, would be “verbal communication”, “Teamwork” and “Commercial awareness”, these three skills were found to be deemed the most important by employers of Kent University’s graduates (University of Kent, 2014).
Endorsements are provided by connections, they solidify that you are skilled in that particular skill. This is one of the reasons why having connections is super important, they help out in a number of ways. In fact LinkedIn are running a competition right now where the prize is Liam Neeson as his popular character Bryan Mills from the movie series Taken will endorse your “particular set of skills” (who doesn’t want to be talked about by Liam Neeson!). The competition if you’re interested can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/taken-3
Example of the additional info section
Finally at the bottom of your page I would recommend putting the additional info section here, it’s not really needed to be at the top of your profile as it’s the least important section, it’s just telling any users a little bit more about you, such as your personal details, interests and advice for contacting you. Even though it’s the least important, it is still relevant, especially the interests and advice for contacting. Your interests can really show what you’re passionate about and tell users more about yourself. Explaining how to contact you, makes it so much easier for connections as well as for you, as you’re telling them what’s the best way to contact you, which will most likely be easier for you as they get in contact with you on your preferred method of communicating.
There are also other sections that you can add, that you should only be added if you deem them to be appropriate, for example, if you have never done any volunteering before in your life, you shouldn’t add in that section, as it would just remain blank and possibly ruin your entire profile, as users who see a blank piece of information would immediately think that you were unprofessional and would probably bounce from your profile soon after. This is something you do not want, so only add in sections appropriate to yourself.
Once you have completed your profile, you’ll want to getting to get as many connections as possible, this is where optimising your LinkedIn profile is really important to do, this blog post written by Inbound Marketing Blog provides some great information to how you can maximise your SEO for better search results within LinkedIn’s internal search engine which users use to find possible connections. Following the steps in their blog post will help you with this, also checking out this blog post about measuring success, I wrote which can help you see how popular your LinkedIn profile is.
Taking the perfect profile picture
One of the biggest things to remember about LinkedIn is that your main objective is to get noticed by others so you can gain connections, which will spread your influence and grow your LinkedIn profile, allowing more users to find you. Therefore a good profile picture is one of the most important aspects of your profile, perhaps even the most important, as it will be the first thing that potential employers and other users will see when looking through LinkedIn. In order to make sure your profile isn’t ignored, you should make sure you are first and foremost smiling, that pearl white gleam of yours projects a positive response as you are showing happiness by doing so. It’s even been scientifically proven that smiling makes you appear more trustworthy and sincere (Krämer et al., 2013), which are two traits that are great for first impressions, which is what the profile picture is all about!
It should also be an up-to-date image of yourself, it’s no good putting up a picture of yourself from a Christmas party a few years ago, it needs to be from at the very most, six months ago, it shouldn’t be any later, your appearance could have changed since then, a potential employer is going to be pretty shocked if you come in for an interview, not looking anything like what you do in your LinkedIn profile picture.
The background of your profile image should also be blank, I would highly recommend a plain painted wall, you want the attention and focus to be on you, not your one direction poster or your towels that are hanging in your bathroom. The wall should also be something of a neutral colour, like a white or cream, as those colours are probably not going to clash with what you’re wearing, these colours look quite boring and bland and therefore keep the attention on you. Wearing something smart-looking also doesn’t hurt, a shirt, suit or dress can make all the difference, it shows employers that you dress professionally, again that key word “Professional”, it’s the biggest thing that employers are looking for. It will also be what you are most likely to wear to a future professional job.
Adding rich media-content to your profile
Example of a Slideshare presentation
Adding a piece of media content to your profile can help make it that little bit more professional, as well as engaging to users who visit your profile. An example of a piece of rich-media content would be Slideshare, a company actually owned by LinkedIn. Slideshare largest community for sharing presentations online, being among one the top 120 websites visited in the world (Slideshare.net, 2014). Slideshare allows users to create presentations, using their engaging interface which is easy to use, and pretty self-explanatory. You could use a slideshare presentation for your LinkedIn profile in a number of different ways, like showing off your skills or telling users about who you are. All these are good examples of what you can do with it in order to add and make it relevant to your LinkedIn profile. If presentations are not your thing, then you could add an infographic, which you could have as an example of your work, which would look great to possible connections as well as employers.
Do you have any tips of your own or experience with LinkedIn?, Then please share with me in the comments section!
Krämer, N., Kopp, S., Becker-Asano, C. and Sommer, N. (2013). Smile and the world will smile with you—The effects of a virtual agent‘s smile on users’ evaluation and behavior. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 71(3), pp.335-349. [Accessed 13 Dec. 2014]
Press.linkedin.com, (2014). LinkedIn – About. [online] Available at: http://press.linkedin.com/about [Accessed 13 Dec. 2014].
Slideshare.net, (2014). About Us. [online] Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/about [Accessed 15 Dec. 2014].
University of Kent, (2014). Top ten employability skills. [online] Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sk/top-ten-skills.htm [Accessed 15 Dec. 2014].