Your profile is influencing your potential employers more than you realize. You might have spent an hour or so filling out your profile five years ago, and updated it very little since then. And that can be a big mistake. A profile that has not been updated can mean a missed opportunity.
So how can you make LinkedIn work for you? Here's my how-to for creating a professional LinkedIn profile.
Have a personal brand
Do more than paste your resume into LinkedIn. Make sure you infuse your own personality or brand into your page, and don't shy away from the features and sections that LinkedIn offers.
Add a professional headshot
Do include a photo. As superficial as it may sound, your photo will catch people's attention as much as your name and professional headline, so be sure to include one. Choose a professionally taken photo that is of just you, not with your family. Make sure it looks like you, so that people recognize you if they see you in real life.
Make yourself a headliner
Be sure to use the 120 characters allotted to create your headline. And don't make it just your job title. Try to have it include your motto, or include a brief description of what you do or what you are known for.
Make your summary worth reading
LinkedIn gives you 2,000 characters of prime real estate to describe who you are and what you do up front. Take advantage of this and fill it with information that will show up in an SEO search.
Think the way your target audience would. When describing yourself, what you do and your job-related accomplishments, use words you think your target audience is looking for.
Consider getting a premium account
If you have a premium account, LinkedIn will suggest keywords for you to use that will help your profile turn up more often in search results.
Go beyond your resume
Share more than just your resume. Include relevant videos, photos, PowerPoint and Prezzi-type presentations, and articles that quote you in your profile. It will make your page more interesting and interactive to potential clients and customers and employers.
Include recommendations from your former employers
Have at least two recommendations for each of your most important former positions. Preferably, obtain recommendations from people influential in your industry, and give them talking points. These references can be either about doing business with you, or about your character.
Rack up some endorsements
How do you get more endorsements? To build up those numbers for your most important skills, you could endorse other people, and they endorse you back. Or you can email some of your associates to ask them to endorse you to help boost your numbers.
Update your page regularly
Don't let your page go stagnant. Keep updating your status with industry news and your accomplishments. It takes only a few seconds, but boosts your visibility and lets your network know what is new with you.