MARKETING TIP 22: LEVERAGING YOUR LINKEDIN
In a recent episode of my Keep It Simple Career Marketing Tips Podcast I talked about the importance of Leveraging Your LinkedIn profile. In that podcast I spoke about the importance of having a LinkedIn profile and keeping that profile as up to date, accurate, and as communicative as possible.
“Some 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn”
I am quickly going to go over the 4 things that you can do today to improve your LinkedIn profile and give you greater visibility and increase your professional profile.
A STRONG PROFILE PICTURE
According to online magazine Psychology Today, a first impression is very important and has lasting consequences as to how others “see you”. “People tend to get attached to their initial impressions of others and find it very difficult to change their opinion, even when presented with lots of evidence to the contrary”, (Psychology Today, First Impressions). In LinkedIn terms, your profile picture is the first thing that most people will look at after registering your name and likeness and a professional portrait can go a long way toward ensuring that others see you in a flattering and professional manner.
I have taken pictures of a number of professionals in differing settings including conferences and, to a person, nearly everyone is a bit camera-shy! Most people do not want to have their picture taken or if they do they are quick to ask to see the photos of themselves to ensure that they “look good”. This is very common, even outside of a professional setting. How many times have you “tried” to take a selfie only to find that your hair is out of place of your smile isn’t just right and you end up posting the fifth or sixth version of that picture online? There is nothing wrong with that! Most of us are self-conscious and fortunately, with todays technology, it is easier than ever to produce high quality and multiple pictures using our smartphones that we can ensure we look exactly how we want to be seen.
A few things to consider when choosing a LinkedIn profile picture:
- Consider Hiring a Professional: A lot of people on LinkedIn use a photo taken on their smartphone or webcam. While this may work well for some it might not be as flattering for others. Consider hiring a freelance portrait photographer to take your picture.
- Consider Your Posture: A lot of people assume that in order to have a professional profile picture that it has to be a standard “head shot” which is a photo taken under consistent lighting, facing the camera forward with a “forced smile”. This is not the case! Your LinkedIn profile is an opportunity to showcase yourself and your personality. I will use my own LinkedIn profile picture as an example (see above). Notice that in my picture that my posture is slightly offset, my head tilted and my arms crossed. I am “grinning” in a way that might tell you that I am “clever” which I am and that I am engaging but not open. (That was what was intended). I am by no means suggesting that you should frame yourself in your picture the way that I have, merely that you can take some micro-chances with your profile that fits your personality!
- Consider Your Dress: What are you wearing in the picture? If you are someone who works in the medical field should you be wearing a suit or scrubs? If you are a someone who works in a trade, maybe wearing work attire would suit you better than showing you in a more formal dress. The same guys the other way…If you work in a corporate environment, probably a profile pic of you from vacation in cut-off shorts is not the best look.
- Consider Lighting: One of the biggest “errors” I see when asked to review a persons LinkedIn profile is that their profile picture is from a “special event” such as a holiday party or wedding. It makes sense that you would want to use a picture of yourself when you are well dressed and feeling festive and in some cases, this might actually work! Most of the time though, it is apparent from an outside perspective that the picture was taken at a special event and might not translate professionally.
- Ask for a Second Opinion: If you are not sure if your profile picture is appropriate or is representative of your personality or demeanor, ask a friend or colleague? Often times, the way we see ourselves is not the way that others see us or we have a distorted view of ourselves and a good friend or close confidant can help us choose a look that suits you.
A STRONG HEADLINE
A strong headline in your LinkedIn profile is important for two reasons. First, your headline is a strong descriptor of your job, occupation, or expertise. Remember that your “headline” does not necessarily have to be your exact job title. Your headline should be indicative of yourself and your professional persona but don’t get hung up on your “headline” being your actual job title; sometimes your job title does not reflect who you really are professionally!
Secondarily, according to JobHunt.org, your profile headline has a great deal of import in regard to your SEO ranking for Linkedin search. “meaning that you can’t go wrong by appropriately including keywords that represent, of course, the job titles and skills appropriate for you that are found in job postings” (JobHunt.org). This means that even if you are not actively looking for work, your name could risee to the top of LinkedIn searches for people in your field and there is no harm in that!
A CUSTOM URL
The other thing that you can (and should) do right away is get a custom URL for your LinkedIn Page. This might sound overly technical, but it really is not. URL is the technical term to describe a website address like Facebook.com or GirlScouts.org. A URL is an internet asset which can be registered and owned by that individual or company.
When you set up a new LinkedIn Page for yourself you are issued a LinkedIn URL. A standard issue LinkedIn URL might look something like this: https://www.linkedin.com/in/firstname-lastname-1101b4164/ which is secure and works fine for your profile! The reason that you might want to have a custom URL for your LinkedIn account is simple – it helps you stand out! Think about your resume for example, would you rather have linkedin.com/in/firstname-lastname-1101b4164/ or linkedin.com/in/firstname-lastname. You can essentially own that URL for yourself which makes you stand out from the crowd and demonstrates mastery over your professional impression. It might sound like a small or trite measure, but it does ensure that you are worth the time!
One more thing! Your URL does not even have to be your full name! Imagine that you are developing your personal brand or your business is YOU then you can make your custom URL something different! For example, my LinkedIn URL is:
This doesn’t mean that if someone were to search for “Michael McAteer” that they wouldn’t find me – they would! In my case, having my URL be the same as all of my other social media handles makes sense for me. Make your LinkedIn URL a custom address and you won’t be sorry! You can always change it any time in your LinkedIn settings.
I hope that you found this blog helpful and if you would like some feedback on your LinkedIn account, contact me on LinkedIn or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram or listen to my podcast, Keep It Simple Career Marketing Tips and Marketing Tip 23: Leveraging Your LinkedIn on Anchor.fm.