How to create a successful LinkedIn profile
Lisa Davidson is a writer and Account Manager at Thought-Horizon. Joanna Gerber is an intern at Thought-Horizon and a student at Wesleyan University.
LinkedIn profiles are to today’s corporate world as suits were to yesterday’s: It’s almost impossible to find a good businessperson without one. As the world becomes more and more digital, the workplace is no exception. Most people’s job searches are conducted online these days, as is much of the hiring process itself. This means that LinkedIn isn’t just a place to make connections and stay up to date with colleagues. It’s a place to showcase your best self.
Still, having a LinkedIn page doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good one. To stand out, you need to show your authentic self and advertise what makes you uniquely qualified.
Don’t be afraid to make it personal
The first step to a strong LinkedIn profile is choosing the right photos. Your profile picture should be a professional shot of you, while your background picture should give a little bit more insight into who you are. Ideas for background pictures include photographs of your favorite city’s skyline, an inspirational quote that motivates you or a shot of nature that you took on a recent hike. Your photos should tell us something about you while maintaining an air of professionalism.
The next place to showcase your authentic self is in your headline. This one- to two-sentence description of who you are and what you do is crucial for a successful LinkedIn page. It’s a quick, efficient way for someone to look at your profile and decide whether or not you fit the criteria they’re looking for, so it’s important to stand out. Using relevant keywords in your headline will help potential employers or clients find you in their searches.
However, don’t just put your job title in your headline and call it a day– that’s a trap that too many people fall into, and ultimately prevents you from standing out from the crowd. If two hundred people pop up when I search “software engineer,” how do you make sure you’re the one that catches my eye? Beyond your job title, make sure you include specific accomplishments or projects you’ve worked on. People want to see what you’re doing, not just how your role is defined.
Supplementing your headline, the “About” section is a longer, more in-depth summary of who you are and what you do. Make sure you use it to its fullest. Don’t just talk about your job and your achievements (though those are important, too), talk about your passions. Why is this the career path you chose? How did you get here? The “About” section is a place to share not just your story but also your voice.
Don’t just tell people about your qualifications:
Your LinkedIn can serve as a great resource to demonstrate your past accomplishments. The “Featured” section of your profile allows you to include details about projects you’ve worked on, from blog posts to product flyers. This segment allows people viewing your profile to see your skills in action and understand how your talents served your work in the past.
Additionally, make sure you have people who can vouch for your abilities. It’s essential to list your skills under the “Skills and endorsements” section, but it’s equally important to find people who will endorse you. The more endorsements you have, the more credible you appear. Even more powerful than endorsements are recommendations, which are personalized written messages from your colleagues. Don’t be afraid to politely ask a colleague to write you a recommendation or provide an endorsement. This will benefit not just you but your company as a whole.
LinkedIn also offers skills assessments, which are short online tests you can take to demonstrate your talent in a certain area. If you score well during the evaluation, you can display a badge on your profile that indicates your high skill level. And if you do poorly, no one has to know – your results are private unless you choose to share them.
Make your presence known
There’s no point in having a perfectly crafted LinkedIn page if no one is going to see it. It’s up to you to ensure that as many people as possible notice and engage with your profile.
There are two easy ways to quickly increase the number of people looking at your profile: connect and engage.
Connect with everyone you know. Connect with colleagues, with relatives, with acquaintances from college who you haven’t spoken to in years. The more people you’re connected to, the better chance you have at the right person catching sight of your profile, the person who will become a loyal customer, coworker or even future employer down the road. LinkedIn is all about building your network. Make sure you’re using it to its full advantage.
However, connecting with people isn’t enough. You also need to engage with them. Comment on people’s posts, whether to share your opinion, ask a question or just offer your support and tag people in posts related to their company’s goals to show that you are aware and interested in their work. Among hundreds of LinkedIn connections, engaging with people on the platform is a great way to stand out and ensure that you are memorable.
LinkedIn is taking over the business world, and you must know how to make your profile stand out to attract new hires or take the next step in your career. As long as you show your authentic self, demonstrate your skills and qualifications and engage with a wide array of people, you’re already on the path to creating the strongest possible profile.