Back in the olden days, before Facebook and Twitter Donna Serdula was introduced to LinkedIn. The year was 2005 and it was all the rage. She decided to join.
The first thing that popped up was the profile. She didn’t quite know what to do with it. To her, it looked like a resume. So she copied and pasted her resume. Donna sat back and waited for the magic to happen.
She thought it was the biggest waste of time and didn’t log on for the next 6 months.
In 2006, Donna got a new job as a business developer. If you didn’t know that’s code for a salesperson. She had to develop a territory from scratch in Philadelphia.
How do you build a territory from scratch?
Selling software to engineers wasn’t easy at first. She resorted to the old smile and dial. Straight cold calling. The main thing Donna discovered was that her prospects wanted to know who she was.
“I was Googling them. Maybe they’re Googling me.”
When she Googled herself, the only thing that came up was her resume-focused, LinkedIn profile.
She realized, that was how she was presenting herself. People were seeing and judging her based on her profile. She immediately knew she could control it.
Your LinkedIn profile is NOT your resume. It’s your career future. It’s your first impression.
Donna went to work on her profile and within a year, she took her territory from $0 to $3.4 million in sales.
A year and a half later, she realized she had something to share. Thus LinkedIn-Makeover.com and Visionboard Media were born. She started writing profiles for executives, entrepreneurs and sales professionals in 2009. By 2011, she had to start hiring people to keep up with the demand. Today, she has over 40 people working with her. And they help thousands of people.
“Once you create a True Profile, amazing things start to happen. Opportunities start to collide. Life changes. You find Jobs. Leads. And Prospects.”
Wiley Publishing came to her and asked for a LinkedIn book on optimization. Now LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies is available on Amazon.com
Now it’s time to get to work on your profile. The worst thing you can do is sit down and start editing. Before you begin to ask yourself these questions:
- What is My Goal? One of the most important questions. You must know what you are trying to achieve on LinkedIn. Do you want a new job? More clients? To build your network? What’s the point of it all? Think of your end game before you begin.
- Who is My Target Audience? Think of the people you want to meet. What’s important to them? What would make them more comfortable to take your call or email? What do they need to see? Keep in mind they’re going to be thinking, who are you and what are you trying to offer me? Make it worth their time.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine they are searching for you. What keywords would they type in to find you?
- What Does Your Target Audience Need to Know About You? Keywords are extremely important. Understand that people are typing keywords into LinkedIn. They want to find people. People do business with people. They want to know who you are and why you do what you do.
Once you’ve answered those 3 questions, it’s time to make your profile pop. LinkedIn has over 400 million users. If you want to stand out from the crowd, enhance your profile. People will notice. A little bit of effort goes a long way.
- Background picture: Make sure you have a nice background. Be sure is consistent with your brand and the message you want to convey.
- Profile picture: Be yourself. Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not. If you’re an executive and want to do business with other executives you may need the suit and tie. If that’s not part of your brand, leave it.
Always be sure to smile. Look friendly, clean and well-adjusted. Look straight into the camera. Show more of your face and less background. This is typical. However if you have a picture that doesn’t quite meet all of these criteria, but it’s a great photo, it’ll still work. Like Matt Holmes, VP of Freedym. His profile pic is black and white, which Donna loves because it stands out. Why? Everyone else does color. You don’t want to be like everyone else.
Also, make sure your picture is up to date. People should be able to recognize you if they met you in real life. If you have a signature look, make sure it reflects in your photo.
- Job Title: LinkedIn automatically puts your current job title under your name. However, a regular job title isn’t compelling. This space should actually be used as your tagline and is the perfect place to sprinkle in some keywords. This field is very sensitive to keyword search. Provide the reader with a benefit statement. WIIFM. What’s in it for them?
Be Compelling. Be Sexy.
Make the readers say, I gotta click and learn more.
If you don’t want to write it, Donna has a free LinkedIn Headline Generator on her site. You only have 120 characters so make them count!
- URL: There’s a URL underneath your profile pic. It’s weird looking and ugly. Click on the icon to edit it. Simply pop in your name and voila! You now have customized LinkedIn URL that’s easy to share. You can put it in your emails or on business cards. This simple trick is important. Especially if you’re job hunting. Recruiters know this can be customized. They’ll say you understand social media and know you’re the real deal.
- Summary: Perfect place for more keywords. Use them organically. Make it flow. Don’t overdo it. This is the place to describe what you do. Add your own personality and uniqueness. Share your why. But don’t make it one-sided. Tell prospects what’s in it for them.
- Contact Info: Fill it out completely. They want to see your phone number, email, and where you’re located in the world. If you have a business address put that as well. Don’t worry only your 1st-degree connections can see this info. Add Twitter and your Websites.
Here’s another tip. Put your contact info everywhere. In your summary. In your job descriptions. Movers and shakers want to call you. Make it easy for people to contact you.
- Connections: Aim for 500+. Work on connecting with everyone. You need a strong network. Don’t aim low and wide. Create a true network. Start with people you actually know. Classmates, colleagues, clients, business partners, etc. Don’t connect with people willy nilly. Be Strategic.
When you want to connect with people you don’t know hit the Connect button. And ALWAYS write them a personal note. Hey. We don’t know each other yet. We’re in the same industry and know a lot of the same people. I’d like to connect with you. In the spirit of networking, what do you say? You will be hard pressed to find someone to say no.
- Groups: Join them. You don’t need to spend your time in LinkedIn groups all day. However, you want to use them strategically to grow your network faster. Go to Interests à Click the Discover button. LinkedIn will suggest groups for you. Choose groups with LOTS of members. You can also search groups by keywords. Use groups to go where your target audience is.
Most people will say that LinkedIn is a social and professional network. It is. Yet it is so much more.
It’s a search engine.
When you search on Google you find any and everything. Websites, articles, images, etc. But when you’re looking for a person…the right person…you search on LinkedIn.
“It’s much easier to collide with them on LinkedIn.”
Here’s another tip. You can prospect people by looking at their profiles. People will see you checked them out. They will respond in kind and check you out. If your profile is optimized, they will say hey, this is exactly who I’ve been looking for. Don’t be creepy and look at the same person’s profile over and over again for consecutive days. Do not stalk. However, you can and should check people out.
LinkedIn is your face to the world. How do you want to present yourself? You can shape that image and decide what to convey. People what to know who you are and who they’re working with. Give them the right message.
Yes, writing about yourself is hard. However, once your sit down and strategically do it, you will see some Amazing results. And if you’re too busy or have no interest in writing this yourself…you can outsource it.
Go to LinkedIn-Makeover.com. Donna has a team of writers on staff ready and waiting to help you.