Want to hit the ground running -- as far as your career and business are concerned -- in 2019? Of course you do. What about doing a little bit of work on your LinkedIn profile between now and the new year?
I have compiled a list of five simple upgrades you can make right now to your professional profile. I'm talking easy fixes that take just minutes. That's a worthwhile investment so you can present your best LinkedIn self to recruiters, would-be managers, potential clients and partners and more in the year ahead. Take a look and get to work.
1. Find and upload cover art.
With half a billion users on LinkedIn, you have to make an effort to stand out. Start at the top and choose a cover photo. Not only will it look better than LinkedIn's generic, standard issue blue backdrop, but it will show that you pay attention to details. Go to Pixabay.com or Unsplash.com to find royalty free photos, including city skylines, to use for your cover photo. You could also see if your company has a branded image you could use. Read my column on cover photos to learn more.
2. Ditch the selfie.
Next up, put your best face forward and upload a professional headshot. If your photo is older than five years or you took it yourself, it's time to upgrade. If you don't have time or money in your budget for a professional portrait, get a friend or family member to take your picture. For best results, opt for a neutral, uncluttered background and natural sunlight. Earlier this year, I offered six guidelines for a winning LinkedIn profile photo.
3. Double check your headline.
Just below your beautiful profile picture and name is your headline. Do a quick check to make sure it is still your best headline. I prefer straight forward headlines that look like job titles versus more creative ones that address your aspirations or talents -- industry leader looking for new opportunity or out-of-the-box thinker. These "titles" don't say much, nor are they searchable by those who might be hiring or looking for your services. Tell people what you do. Help recruiters and others find you though keyword searches based on your occupation.
4. Update your contact information.
You know what else is helpful to recruiters and connections wanting to discuss opportunities? Up-to-date contact information. I've found that often times people change jobs and they forget to update their email address. You don't want people emailing you at an old work address, so take two minutes to take care of this.
5. Add skills.
Add skills to your profile. Having at least five skills on your profile gets you 17 times more profile views and 31 times more messages from recruiters and others who can help you succeed and get ahead, according to LinkedIn. All it takes is a few clicks. You might even endorse the skills of others, who might in turn do the same for you. In fact, when you endorse others for skills ranging from leadership to blogging and lead generation, LinkedIn will send these contacts a message asking if they'd like to return the favor.
Bonus tip and extra credit: You might consider rewriting your summary story to tell an interesting, memorable story. This is a task that will take longer than just a few minutes, which is why I didn't include it above. For inspiration, check out a column I wrote on career storytelling on LinkedIn. Leave out the jargon and corporate speak and just tell a good story of how you got where you are. Remember, it's about standing out, not fitting in.