So you’ve set up a LinkedIn account and have accumulated professional connections. But that is only the first step in using the powerful capabilities of this social channel.
On March 22, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner blogged that his social network now has 44 million users in the U.S. alone. If you are a professional, in business or an entrepreneur, the bottom line of why you have a LinkedIn account is that you want to advance your career or generate more business.
How do you do that? The first step is to create a solid gold profile, so that in any search for your specialty, you appear on page one. There are six simple ways to this communications strategy. Follow this guide and you’ll be on your way.
1. Create a compelling headline. You’ll find the box to do it under “basic information.” Start with your title, if you have one, and the name of your company. Then, determine your keyword or words. Don’t be too general. Take the time to carefully select your keywords. You can use “engineer,” for example, but it probably won’t get you on page one of a search. But if you’re a “nuclear engineer” and put that in your headline, you’ll certainly separate yourself from the pack. Think of what others might search for that encompasses one of your specialties. Then sprinkle your keywords liberally throughout your profile.
What’s your niche? In my case, one set of key words that I use is “communications strategy.” Separate your name and title from your key words with a vertical bar, found on most keyboards above the enter key. Insert another bar, then tell people in a simple phrase what you do. Much of my marketing is directed toward the financial sector, so I entered “Financial Social Media Guide.”
2. Now let’s work on your current position. Click on “edit display name” on the edit position page. After the name of your company, insert another vertical bar, and type in what you do. Here you need to think about grabbing your readers’ attention quickly. If you’re an emergency room nurse, it might be “I Help Save Lives Every Day.” If your company recycles electronics, you might write “We Recycle Computers & Electronics.”
The description box, further on down, is another important place for you to integrate your key words as you describe the achievements and responsibilities of your current position.
3. The next step is to insert your key word or phase into your past job experiences. I’m not suggesting you misstate the truth, but if you can honestly use your key words somewhere in the description of your prior job responsibilities, it will absolutely help to boost your ranking.
4. Scroll on down to Summary and Specialities. Too often, this section is ignored by LinkedIn neophytes. But it is critically important. With the incredible amount of content being created by so many every moment, you’re in a battle for your reader’s attention. The visitor to your site may not want to take the time to read through your voluminous and otherwise fascinating resume. That’s where your Summary and Specialties come in.
How do you summarize all that is wonderful about what you do? This is good place for an edited version of that elevator speech you’ve crafted so carefully. It really shouldn’t be more than a couple of paragraphs. Speak to your passion, tell your reader exactly what you do, and how you can solve their problems. And guess what else goes in here? That’s right, your key words.
End the Summary Section with your contact information. Sure, there’s another place on the page to put it, but another call to action here can’t hurt.
5. Go now to Specialties, where I suggest a list. Your visitor has been on your profile for awhile now. Make it easy for him or her to grasp exactly how you might help. And… do I have to say it? Don’t forget to use your keywords.
6. Last, but not least, let’s go back to the top of the page and talk about your photo. Don’t have one? That’s a mistake. People want an impression of who you are. Don’t use that picture that your daughter took of you grabbing a milk carton at the supermarket. Or that fun picture of you wearing that silly shirt at the beach. Spend the money to have a photographer take a professional photograph.
Using a professional photograph isn’t going to help you move to page one of a LinkedIn search, but without one people are less likely to stop and take a look.
If you don’t move up to page one or two, it could be that you don’t have a large enough network. Add more professional contacts, and then try again. You might also search for your keywords plus the city in which you live. Once you have a large enough network and have mastered the six steps, you will have made the first important move toward fully exploiting the powerful communications strategy of LinkedIn.
What additional tricks-of-the-trade have I left out?