LinkedIn is the place to not only find others but also to be found. And that is why you need a profile that not only helps you get found but also will entice people to contact you once they view your profile. I see many people making fundamental mistakes that actually work against them in this aspect. If you’re going to spend time putting together a profile, I assume you want to maximize your chances of being contacted by the right people, right?
With that in mind, I have created an easy-to-understand list of a few things to check for with my reasoning. If it sounds like an exercise in search engine optimization, you are on the right path. Just like any website owner, you want to stick out and be found!
1. Not Displaying Your Personal Photo
I wrote an entire blog post about why you should include your photo in your LinkedIn profile, but it all comes down to having social media credibility or not. There are too many fake profiles on LinkedIn, so you want to show that you are real. If you have taken the time to complete your online presence on the social networking platform, why wouldn’t you display your photo? It just raises too many potential questions. And company logos or photos of pets obviously have no value here
2. Headline is Not Branded Enough
See that space underneath your name? That is your “Professional” or Profile Headline. It will appear in search results next to your name, as well as next to any questions you ask or answer. It is, in essence, your elevator speech in a few words. Are you just putting your title and company name here? Don’t! This is the place where you need to appeal to anyone who finds you in a search result to reach out and look at who you are. Your Profile Headline is the single most important piece of real estate you have, and you need to brand it as such.
3. Status Update is Not Appealing
This is that “What are you working on?” box that I refer to as a “Status Update.” Assuming someone finds you and looks at your profile, chances are they are going to be looking at what you write here simply because that it appears just underneath your Headline. What do you write here? Many people in transition note that they are looking for a job here, and here is my LinkedIn Status Update Advice for the Unemployed. What do you use your LinkedIn Status Update for? It is part of your branding exercise, and it should be something appealing that will both inform the reader of your latest activities as well as hopefully add to, not subtract from, your Brand.
4. Don’t List Enough Companies You Worked At Or Schools Attended
One of the ways you are found is through searches on company names or schools. If you are only listing your current company and/or not even displaying your college, you are missing out on potentially being found. Check this out: I did my Junior year of college abroad in Beijing nearly 20 years ago. I had been out of touch with all of the 15 or so Americans that were there that year. Two of those 15 have found me on LinkedIn! And another high school friend who I lost touch with found me this week. They would not have found me had I not listed my Junior year abroad school and high school name on my profile. Companies are even more important in that there are potentially more colleagues that may be trying to find you or recruiters trying to network with you! You may be missing out!
5. Not Having Three Recommendations
This is the same as not displaying your personal photo. Why? When you sign up for LinkedIn and first fill out your profile, LinkedIn recommends that you write three LinkedIn Recommendations. You need to do this in order to get your Profile to 100% Completion. Job postings on LinkedIn similarly require three recommendations. These recommendations can only work in your favor, so why don’t you have at least three of them?
6. Too Few Connections
This is a topic for debate, but too many people have too few connections on their profile, and thus are not getting found. The idea is simple: when you do a search you will see results from your network. And vice-versa. So the more connections you have the more search results you will appear in pure and simple. Combining this is the fact that Windmill Networking is about finding value in online networking with people that you don’t know. So what are you waiting for? If you don’t know who to invite, here are 15 Ways to Grow Your LinkedIn Network as well as 10 LinkedIn LIONs & Super Connectors You Must Connect With! Better yet, why don’t you join my Windmill Networking LinkedIn Group and consider connecting with some of the group members?
7. Not Listing Three Websites
LinkedIn gives you the ability to list three websites on your profile. Are you taking advantage of it? Do you have a Twitter profile or other social networking profile that you want to advertise? Company website? A blog that you enjoy reading? Anything that you would want associated with yourself should be listed here. You will be adding to the search engine optimization of your own websites just by the fact that you list them here!
8. Not Claiming Your Personal URL
When you sign up to LinkedIn you are provided a public URL which you can then include on your email signature or wherever else you want to lead people to your profile from. You can customize this when you edit your profile. Claiming your name here is one of the first things you should have done on LinkedIn. For instance, I can memorize my LinkedIn Profile URL, which is www.linkedin.com/in/nealschaffer, because I customized the last text to “nealschaffer.” If you have a common name, make sure you claim your URL before others do!
9. No Branded Summary Rich with Keywords
Assuming that someone finds you in a search result, likes your Profile Headline, and isn’t scared away by your Status Update, the next most important part of your profile will be your Summary. This is the chance to fully brand yourself and ensure that any keywords that you want associated with yourself are found here. You also want to write something compelling, just as you would in the Executive Summary of your resume. This is your stage to tell the world who you are and what you can do! Utilize it to your fullest advantage!
10. No Job Descriptions
Even if you’ve listed positions at companies that you previously held, it means nothing if you don’t have any job descriptions. Job descriptions provide you the perfect opportunity to pepper your profile with keywords that will help you get found. Why aren’t you taking advantage of this?
Did I miss any that you’d like to share? Let me know! And if you didn’t make any of the above mistakes, congratulations! You’re in good shape