One of my favorite things to do for clients is to overhaul their LinkedIn profiles and teach them how to better use this online professional networking tool. There's something about empowering individuals one-on-one so they feel great about their career path and more confident going after new jobs and new business.
I like it when people understand that nobody will ever care as much about their career as they do -- and that LinkedIn is a great way to show that they care and how they do a bit of their own public relations. When I'm doing profile makeovers, here are the top questions clients ask me about LinkedIn.
1. What can I do to raise my LinkedIn profile?
Be an active LinkedIn user. Set calendar reminders to log into your LinkedIn account several times a week. When you login, there are several things you can do so that your name pops up in people's feeds and their minds.
Grow your network by sending LinkedIn requests to professionals you've recently met. Let me repeat. People you've met. Not strangers; that's collecting "connections," not networking.
Interact with your network by sending messages or posting comments to congratulate connections on new jobs or promotions. Read and "like" articles that others post. Post your own articles with comments on what you learned or what others might find helpful or interesting. For goodness sake, check your messages and respond to them, knowing that if you stay on top of it, it's not a big deal.
Imagine that with each little LinkedIn action you are sending out positive career karma into the universe. I'm serious. Action begets action. I'm a firm believer in that.
2. How can I get recommendations?
You can't get what you don't ask for. Ask connections -- past managers, clients, colleagues and more -- to write recommendations for you.
In the Recommendations section, click "Ask for a recommendation" to send a note to a contact you'd like to write good stuff about you. Give that contact some direction -- areas or skills you'd like them to focus on. It would be nice if you offered to write one in return and asked that person what they'd like you to highlight for them. Again, karma.
Note that recommendations are displayed only on personal profile pages, not business page or showcase pages.
3. How can I better explain what I do or what I want to do next?
Fill in the 'About' section with a narrative that explains how you got from one point to the next in your career. Too often, I see that that space is blank or it's filled with a string of overused, and hence forgettable, phrases like "driven leader," "strategic thinker," "problem solver."
Use this space -- about 300 words -- to tell your story. Take a step back and imagine you are writing an introduction that someone else will deliver about you at a conference, trade show or awards ceremony. This mean writing this part of your profile in the third person, which I recommend and have written about in past columns. It sounds less boastful. It's more conducive to storytelling. And it reinforces your name, which is your brand.
4. Will a better profile or being more active on LinkedIn bring me new business or a new job?
Again, I believe you have to invest in yourself, in building yourself up for those job interviews and prospective client meetings. You have to invest in putting yourself out there so that others think of you when opportunities arise. What will doing nothing get you?