LinkedIn has become the de facto--and therefore the most powerful--social network for business. In case you weren't yet aware, LinkedIn is rolling out a revamp of the user profile. While the change has elicited a mixed reaction, eventually everyone will be migrated to it. So if you haven't spent much time learning about and optimizing your LinkedIn profile, now is a good time to get cracking.
Time, or lack thereof, shouldn't be an excuse: Each of these tips should take you five minutes or less, and you'll end up with a more engaging profile that gets more hits and better results.
1. Upload your photo. These days, if you don't have your photo on LinkedIn, you look like you're hiding something. People want to see the people whom they plan to interview or do business with. Unlike in personal social networks like Facebook or Twitter, the expectation on LinkedIn is a photo in which you look polished and professional. Be ready for your close-up: If you can, use a headshot rather than a full-body pose or group photo.
Uploading your photo is easy. Just click the Profile link on the menu and then Edit Profile. In the dedicated space for your photo, you will see a camera icon.
Once you click the camera icon, you'll be taken to a screen where you can upload or edit your photo. It's pretty self-explanatory.
2. Customize your Professional Headline. Your Professional Headline appears next to your photo, under your name. This headline can be completely customized. Professional headlines help explain to people who you are, not just what you do, so you may want it to be different and more descriptive than your ordinary job title. The words in your headline are also indexed in search engines, so put them to work.
You customize your professional headline in the same edit profile screen into which you upload your photo. Click on the word Edit (older profiles) or the pencil icon (newer profiles) and enter a headline that best describes you. You have a 120 character maximum.
3. Enrich your Summary with relevant keywords. LinkedIn's Summary enables you to describe yourself, your work history, your background and any other attributes you think will help you sell yourself when making and seeking connections. That alone should give you good reason to be deliberate when crafting your Summary. But in addition to the power of those words with the people who read them, you can also impact your visibility in search engines with the keywords you choose to weave into your Summary. You have 2,000 characters, so go for it!
(Yeah, it's kind of nice to be listed 3rd out of 52 million results!)
4. Add Skills. Skills used to be important, but with LinkedIn's recent "endorsements"--the ability to give your stamp of support for someone's skills--having the right skills in your profile is now an imperative. You can select skills that already exist in LinkedIn's database: Just start typing a skill and LinkedIn will make relevant suggestions. Or, type in a new one. You can list up to 50 skills.
You can also change the order of your skills by dragging them, though once you start receiving endorsements, your skills will appear in order based on their number of endorsements. Your Top 10 skills will also display who has endorsed you if you enable this feature.
5. Create your LinkedIn "vanity URL." Since LinkedIn is your calling card these days--and it is literally replacing the business card in certain circumstances--you'll want to have your very own customized, clean and relevant LinkedIn URL, sometimes called a "vanity URL." LinkedIn assigns you a cumbersome, hard-to-remember default URL that looks something like http://www.linkedin.com/pub/YOURFIRSTNAME-YOURLASTNAME/1/a59/374, but you can edit it to be short, sweet and branded with your name, e.g. http://www.linkedin.com/in/hollisthomases.
Creating a vanity URL is also easy. Simply click on the Settings link below your log-in name, and once within your settings, look on the bottom half of the page for the "Edit your public profile" link.
Once in your Public Profile screen, look for and click on the "Customize your public profile URL" link on the right-hand side. It will bring up a box that lets you enter whatever you want to appear as your own URL.
While you're in your Public Profile, it's also worth noting that LinkedIn reminds you that you can "take control of how you appear in public search results" by editing how much of your profile content the public and search engines can see. If you expect people to be Googling your name, a customized vanity URL can help you be found too.
Okay, this isn't directly related to your profile, but here's one last word of advice that will also take you five minutes or less. Each day try to share an update: something relevant and valuable to your network. Each profile edit and update you share gets broadcast to your entire network. There's no better way to stay top-of-mind than to be ever-present with your audience.