The recent LinkedIn profile updates may seem subtle at first glance, but to stay current on this professional social networking site, there are some things you should know and do. First, be prepared to get a professional head shot, given that your smiling face is much more prominent as a result of the updated look that LinkedIn rolled out in late summer.
Wayne Breitbarth, LinkedIn consultant and author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, reminds us that this isn't Facebook--LinkedIn is all about professionalism and credibility. It's important to stay current on your profile and give your contacts what they're looking for. Breitbarth stepped in to help with that task by providing this review of the LinkedIn profile changes and simple tips to help you stand out. Breitbarth's pointers might take only minutes to execute but will deliver a powerful impression. Here's how:
1. Put more emphasis on your profile photo.
LinkedIn is putting the focus on your face with a larger profile image. This means you had better have a photo, and it had better be good, now more than ever. Stick with a simple head shot, dressed as you would when meeting a client. People want to do business with people they like, and your photo is the first impression; make it professional and likable!
2. Take advantage of what's no longer featured.
Gone are the number of recommendations and the full synopsis of your work and educational experience. And your websites are no longer prominently displayed on your profile page. This means that LinkedIn users need to take greater advantage of the other profile features to make this information more visible.
3. Work on your headline--it's more important than ever!
Because the amount of information in your top box has been reduced, the remaining information is more important than ever, including your headline. The 120-character headline is one of the best spots on your profile to explain your brand. You'll want to include your most important keywords as well. Your current job title will be shown in the top box only if you have just one. However, if you have multiple current jobs, only the company names will be displayed, not your titles. In this case, consider the keywords by which you want to be found. If the job title is relevant, include it in the headline.
4. Also note: The summary section is much more prominent.
Because of the reduced size of the top box, your summary is now above the fold; thus more important, especially the first few sentences. Those sentences had better pack a punch relating to your current business objectives and your credibility.
5. Treat "contact information" like a business card.
This information used to be in various spots on the old version of your profile page. Now it is summarized nicely in the top box and opens after a person clicks the Contact Info tab right next to the picture of the index card. Be sure to include all the ways you feel comfortable with people contacting you. Available options are websites, Twitter, email, phone, IM, and your address.
6. Consider that website addresses are harder to find.
The websites included on your profile (you can list up to three) were previously front and center, but now they are a bit hidden in the Contact Info section. Thus, you may want to mention your website(s) in your summary and in the description(s) of your job experience. This will not be a clickable link, but at least a person can find it without having to open the Contact Info tab.
So, smile for the camera, update your new profile page, and leverage your LinkedIn experience and relationships to build your business. Let me know how you do!