Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve probably noticed a LOT of new changes coming out of LinkedIn. I do free monthly webinars on LinkedIn (you can sign up here to get notified of future ones), and I now have to spend the first 5 to 10 minutes just updating all of the attendees on all of the recent changes that LinkedIn has undergone since the previous webinar – just a few weeks ago! Considering that LinkedIn profiles are the most viewed pages on LinkedIn, and your profile page really is every professional’s starting place to claim and create their own professional brand, the new user interface for LinkedIn profiles should be viewed as the most significant update to LinkedIn in 2012. While I’ve blogged about LinkedIn profile tips in the past, it’s time to take a look at the new user interface and determine how to maximize the new profile for 2013 and beyond. While not everything has changed, here are the key areas in which you should focus your efforts to get your profile up to speed:
1.) Don’t Forget the Basics: Photo, Name & Professional Headline The fact of the matter is that the People Search functionality of LinkedIn should be viewed as Google Search for Professionals. With that in mind, similar to the importance of the headline of a web page that appears in Google (in addition to Google Authorship, but I digress…), what others see prominently featured in LinkedIn search results are your photo (which should look professional), your name (which should be displayed in full without any gimmicky nicknames), and a truly unique and “branded” professional headline to increase the inbound marketing power of your LinkedIn profile. For most of you, that means you should probably be looking at taking a new photo as well as taking a look at your professional headline and ensuring it still represents your current objectives. It should also be noted that in the new user interface, the above three features do appear slightly more prominent as well (bigger size photo, name in bold, less noise to make your professional headline stand out more), so doing this is all the more important.
2.) Make Your Profile More Discoverable Unless you try to edit your profile you won’t see it, but LinkedIn has created more granular ways for you to decide which specific profile content you want to make more visible. Assuming that you are on LinkedIn to be found, it makes sense that you would want your entire profile visible to the public search engines. However, even though my profile has always been set to be as publicly on display as possible, I noticed that the new LinkedIn settings meant that certain sections were NOT being exposed to search engines. Below is the screenshot of what my settings looked like when I first saw them. You’ll want to make sure that you check off every box like I ended up doing.
3.) Get Active! In the world of online marketing, what appears “above the fold” on your website is critical in that this is the content a viewer will see without having to scroll down. What features prominently in the new profile is your “Activity,” or status updates as well as other actions that you perform on LinkedIn, which wipes out all but the title of your professional summary. This makes your most recent LinkedIn status update all the more crucial as it will be featured rather prominently above the fold and visible to all who view your profile. LinkedIn’s decision to prevent you from automating publishing every tweet as a status update was a welcome move to make your network updates more professional, but you still need to ask yourself before posting any status update if they are truly 1) professional and 2) aligned with your branding. You also want to make sure you post at a certain frequency, say a minimum of once a week, so that your latest update doesn’t seem stale and out of date. You can easily use LinkedIn Today to curate relevant content to share with your network, so now’s the time to make that feature part of your LinkedIn routine.
4.) Create Your Professional Gallery When LinkedIn announced that they were discontinuing their LinkedIn Events application, it wasn’t clear at the time what LinkedIn was really doing. Sometime ago LinkedIn had already stopped supporting the Google Presentations application, which was the preferred method I recommended to embed a video into your LinkedIn profile. Now we realize what has happened: LinkedIn has stopped supporting the applications platform in its entirety. Instead, LinkedIn has taken the wise move of simply allowing you to add any visual type of content (i.e. video, photo, presentation, document, etc.) into your LinkedIn profile by simply inserting a link. This is truly an eloquent way of supercharging your professional branding by adding some powerful visual context to it. Below is a sample of what I have done, mixing together SlideShare presentations, YouTube videos (not only my own but others that I have appeared in), and even an Instagram photo!
Two things to note about this new Professional Gallery: 1) You can edit the titles (which appear in the above thumbnails) as well as the description (which will appear when someone views your specific content) and 2) You can add your professional gallery both at the end of your Professional Summary (which I would recommend) as well as below any of your work experience or education positions (which you may want to additionally do if you have a lot of visual content that you want to sprinkle amongst various parts of your profile OR for those types of content which may not be as relevant to your current professional branding or objectives).
5.) Interests?!? When you view the profile of someone else, you are looking at data points which can help virtually connect you with that person and thus be utilized as a conversation starter. LinkedIn is now handing you this information on a silver platter by showcasing your commonalities on a widget on the righthand side of every profile you visit. That being said, I was really surprised when I went to the profile of my good friend (and leading career strategist) Tim Tyrell-Smith and noticed that in addition to the Groups and Skills & Expertise I often see (more on that below), it actually showed the common Interests that we had! Interests has always been a part of your LinkedIn profile and was often looked over as being not so important. You might want to reconsider the value of this area and fill it up with keywords that will hopefully create commonalities with those that you want to attract to your profile – and reach out to you as a result.
6.) Manage Your Skills & Endorsements Before I create my own blog post about the new LinkedIn Endorsements, I want some historical perspective. I’ll be blogging about my views on it soon, but regardless of whether you like it or hate it, it has become an integral part of our LinkedIn profile. The new user interface allows us to easily manage both our skills as well as those endorsements. Let’s tackle these one at a time:
First of all, your top ten skills, in descending order by number of endorsements you have received, will appear prominently in this section of your profile. If those skills are not aligned with your branding objectives, you can simply delete out the skill in question – or, by using the new “Manage Endorsements” feature (shown below), you can actually delete out just enough endorsements so that they don’t appear in your top 10 skills.
For most people, you might not need to delete out endorsements other than for the above reason of managing your top ten skills. However, if you have been a LinkedIn open networker or a promiscuous connector, you might be getting bombarded with endorsements from people that for whatever reason you might not want their faces displaying on your invaluable real estate. You can now selectively delete out those endorsements should you feel inclined to do so.
7.) Being Aware of Your Groups & Following (News & Companies) Visual Branding You’ve always had the chance to hide specific Groups that you are a member of from displaying on your profile, but now LinkedIn has added those news categories that you follow on LinkedIn Today as well as any Companies that you follow to your profile. While this is a section that will more than likely be delegated to the bottom of your profile, it is still an area that becomes part of your LinkedIn brand. Ensure that you are comfortable with the images that are appearing and make changes if you feel they might take away from your branding.
8.) Increasing your Connectivity and Commonalities My final LinkedIn profile tip is a general one about increasing both your connectivity as well as commonalities on LinkedIn. Why? Because you want to create as many data points as possible to allow relevant people you are trying to easily reach out and start a conversation with you. All of this information is being displayed in the righthand side of anyone who visits your profile, so maximize this functionality by increasing your connectivity and commonalities as follows:
Connections: Every additional connection you make gives you the ability to find, and be found, by many more people. Although this doesn’t appear on all profiles yet, the below image gives you a feel for how prominently your connectivity status with a 2nd degree connection will be shown:
If you haven’t added any new LinkedIn connections for awhile, see my video below for how many LinkedIn connections I recommend you should have!
Groups: Being a member of the maximum 50 groups will increase your connectivity AND commonality with any given profile by not only showing the common groups that you are both a member of, but also by allowing that 2nd degree or beyond connection the ability to easily message you by going to that common group.
Skills: Imagine if you’re trying to attract CMOs to your profile, yet your Skills and theirs don’t overlap. Wouldn’t that be strange? Showcasing commonality in skills with those who you are trying to attract to your profile should be another priority in helping you increase your thread of commonalities. Of course, if you’re trying to attract an audience that has nothing in common with you it is one thing, but just by looking at the skills that a representative sampling of the audience you want to attract have and aligning a few of your skills where appropriate could make a positive impression by showing off your commonality in this area. As LinkedIn continues to roll out the new user interface to its user base (I only got mine this week), I am sure that we will see more changes as they continue to implement their vision for their platform. However, the above profile tips are the things that you can do immediately to truly maximize the potential for the new personal profile page user interface. Any other profile tips that you would add? Please chime in!