By: Wendi Weiner
The first time I heard about LinkedIn was back in 2008. I had a profile, but like you, I didn't do much with it. It wasn't until LinkedIn reached popularity in the last five years that I truly began to see the value in it. Of course its value skyrocketed when I learned as a professional resume writer just how much LinkedIn could increase professional opportunities for myself and my clients.
Today, your LinkedIn profile is even more compelling than your resume. Why? LinkedIn is how you build your professional branding. It is a gateway to many more things than just selling yourself for a job. Your LinkedIn profile should never be a copy and paste of your resume. Instead, think of it as a way for you to create an online representation of yourself and develop a reputation among millions of other professionals.
Take a moment and Google your name. You will notice that one of the first links is to your LinkedIn profile. Before other professionals meet you, they know about you and what you represent. The best part: You retain the power to create that professional image and leverage it among the millions of Internet users. LinkedIn isn't necessarily just for job searching. It is also a way to display your knowledge, skill set, and what value you bring to other businesses and business professionals.
In order to make your LinkedIn profile more powerful, here are four important things you should do:
1. Professional Photo
LinkedIn users with a photo are 11 times more likely to have their profiles viewed than those without a photo. LinkedIn provides professional insight to who you are through millions of viewers -- recruiters, business professionals, employers, colleagues and various others. How you appear in that photo is how others will view you. Therefore, it is highly recommended that your photograph convey a professional image of you. This may require investing in a professional headshot, but the payoff can be much greater.
2. Broad Heading and Persuasive Summary
Many LinkedIn users will default to using their current job title as their heading. Think of your heading as the great title to your own professional novel. Your heading should be all-encompassing for your sector and industry. For example, if you are in sales and marketing, a powerful LinkedIn headline can include "Top-Performing Sales and Marketing Executive." You've now hit both industries and you are also drawing attention to a reader by emphasizing your value.
Your summary is the introduction to your professional novel and very similar to an introductory paragraph in an essay. The summary should be concise but expansive enough to target your key focus areas and summarize your skill set. A great summary will provide insight into who you are, what you do, and perhaps it will discuss your business philosophy with great enthusiasm. It will also help you get found on LinkedIn and enable you to show up in more diverse searches.
3. Synthesized Details for Work Experience
Your work experience details matter and they should be keyword rich. No more than three to four sentences should be used for your job descriptions or the reader will lose attention. Consider breaking up your experience into different categories such as business development, project management and process improvement. Then, match specific duties and responsibilities to those categories. Describing your work experience has now become that much easier.
4. Customize your URL
Just as LinkedIn is your branding, so is your URL. Get found faster with a customized LinkedIn URL.
These tips are just a start. While your resume can help you get the interview for a new job, a fully optimized LinkedIn profile can bring you more business, more connections, and can increase your professional reputation. That is a value worth achieving.
Wendi Weiner is an attorney, Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW), and owner of The Writing Guru, a resume service firm with global clientele.