When did you last update your LinkedIn profile? If it was the last time you were jobhunting, or worse still when you first signed up, the chances are you look out-of-date and off the pace.
That will be harming you in the eyes of future customers, warned Anita Windisman, customer success manager at LinkedIn, when she recently spoke on a webinar for the Association of Professional Sales. Luckily, with a minimum amount of work everyone can make themselves seem more professional.
Here's her ten-point guide to getting back on track:
1. Your photo
Is your profile pic a holiday snap? Do you even have a profile pic? LinkedIn’s site analytics show that people spend more time looking at profile pictures than anything else on LinkedIn. Put on a suit and haste you to a photographer for the right professional look.
Why you should act: Profiles with photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed than those without.
2. Your headline
Don’t know what that is? You should – it’s the most read thing on your profile. The headline is the short text that appears below your name, 120 characters long. If you think you’ve got it covered by sticking your job title in there, you’re wrong – it’s too uninformative, and you’re missing a chance to sell yourself. Imagine introducing yourself to someone you want to impress. You have 30 seconds to describe who you are, what you do and what value you provide.
Why you should act: Heat maps show that the headline is the first place where people’s eyes fall on a profile, followed by the picture.
3. Your URL
Do you have difficulty remembering passwords that are a random mix of letters and numbers? Of course you do, which is why you need to change it for something more memorable. Same thing applies to the URL for your LinkedIn profile. Instead of a combination of letters and numbers and slashes, you need to customise it and claim your name. People will find you more easily, and it’s search engine catnip.
Why you should act: If you do this it greatly increases your visibility on Google searches.
4. Your contact information. Would you go to meet a potential customer and then say: sorry, I’m not telling you my mobile number or email address? Thought not. Handing out your contact details is really important for people in sales roles. Putting them on LinkedIn is nothing more than the digital equivalent of carrying a business card. Don’t worry – this is a business network, not Tindr. Your details will only be accessible to your direct connections.
Why you should act: Let your customers and contacts get in touch with you fast.
5. Rich media
If you think that your LinkedIn profile is your digital CV, you have missed the point. Think of it more as sales and prospecting tool. Show the customer what you and your company can do for them. Your marketing department will love you if you upload the latest corporate videos, PowerPoint presentations and graphics, and there’s probably data that your existing customers will find handy. But be careful not to go overboard: you want to tempt your customers, not deluge them.
Tip: click the ‘Add Media’ button and follow the prompts.
6. Your summary
Can you tell from reading your LinkedIn profile summary whether you are a human dynamo who smashes their number every year, passionate about customer service with a stable of happy clients who come back to you again and again, an accomplished communicator, deeply interested in the wider market ramifications of the latest tech changes? No? Why not? A boring list of your exam results is not going to sell you. This is no time for British reserve. Blow that trumpet.
Why you should act: your summary is the third most viewed part of your profile.
7. Your job history
Have you remembered to update it since you moved jobs or got a promotion? No? So your contacts still think you work in that place that you left in 2013? I see.
Tip: you should be updating this quarterly.
8. Your education
This is not about exam results, it’s about creating great networking opportunities. One of the niftiest functions of LinkedIn enables you to find alumni connections. You can check out if there’s anyone who went to the same school or college as you at a company you’re targeting as a sales prospect, get in touch via InMail to invite them for coffee and a chat about old times, and – Bingo! Ignore this and you’re missing a trick.
Tip: go to the pulldown menu on “My Network” and choose “add alumni”.
9. Your contacts
How many contact requests are you sending out? What, one in the last six months? Would you go to a party and not network? As soon as you meet someone or just see someone interesting online, ask to connect on LinkedIn.
Tip: always but always write a personal note explaining why you got in touch. Don’t go with the standard pro-forma note, it looks like you don’t care.
References are seriously dead. Almost nobody picks them up any more. But people do notice if you have recommendations and testimonials on LinkedIn, so why haven’t you asked your satisfied customers to supply them?
If you’ve made it this far, open your LinkedIn page and get editing. If you need any practical help, click on the LinkedIn tip sheets above, or watch Anita Landisman’s excellent webinar below [53 mins]. Go on, what are you waiting for?