If you're like most people, you log into your Facebook and Instagram accounts fifteen times a day, but your LinkedIn account stays idle.
If this scenario describes you, know that you're missing out on some incredible opportunities. LinkedIn gives you access to a pool of potential clients and employers and helps you build meaningful connections.
But, to reap these benefits, you have to start by presenting yourself in the right way. Professor Heather Austin has shared ten tips that will help you get the most out of LinkedIn.
Founder of professoraustin.com and mastermind behind Professor Heather Austin YouTube channel, she's helped thousands of professionals navigate the job search process. Her channel, which was launched just a few years back, has already gained many followers within a short time.
Watch her two-part video series to learn what you need to do to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
10 Ways to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile
1. Update your LinkedIn Profile Picture
When someone visits your LinkedIn profile, your image is the first thing they see. So ensure that you're making a great first impression with it.
Professor Heather reveals that profiles with pictures receive far more engagement than those that don't: 9 times more connection requests and up to 14 times more views!
Now, just as important as having a photo is the type of picture you choose. So take one long hard look at your present photo. Are you pleased with it? More importantly, does it reflect who you are? If it doesn't, now is the best time to update it.
Two of the most important things to consider when choosing a LinkedIn picture are professionalism and current appearance.
That is, your photo should present you in the most professional way. And, it should be up-to-date. So don't post selfies or pictures of you golfing, bowling, or engaging in other casual activities. Similarly, post photos you've taken within the past two years or even more recently if you've made drastic changes to your appearance.
2. Customize your LinkedIn Cover Image
The cover image is one of the most neglected sections of a LinkedIn profile. Most users leave the default background image as is.
But you should never overlook your cover photo. It gives you as much potential exposure as your profile picture does.
Consider using this part to highlight your skills and expertise. Or, incorporate details that tell more about you and/or your services. You can even include an element or two, which relate to your brand.
If you're struggling to find a personal header image, choose one related to your specific industry. For instance, if you are an accountant, content writer, or work any other desk-bound job, you can upload a photo of an office setting. Just ensure that you don't use the default banner image set by LinkedIn.
3. Update your LinkedIn Headline
The headline is the part that appears right below your name and headshot. It's the section where you describe what you do.
Like your cover image, LinkedIn automatically updates the headline for you, based on your most recent work title. While there's nothing wrong with this, I bet you can customize your headline better than the way LinkedIn does.
Keep in mind that the headline appears next to your name in previews, connection requests, and search results. So you want to make it as catchy as possible to entice other LinkedIn users to click on your profile.
Look for relevant keywords, and keyword phrases, and include them naturally in your headline.
4. Optimize your LinkedIn Summary
The summary is the one area where you can describe yourself using your own words.
No names. No titles. No pre-determined skills to pick from.
That's why you should use this section to highlight the most important aspects of yourself. You can choose to focus on your career, outline your most significant achievements, or showcase your personality.
Many people find it extremely difficult to write this section, partly because they don't know what to include and what to omit.
To simplify the process, you can use the 2 by 3 strategy by summarizing your skills in 2 to 3 paragraphs that are 2 to 3 sentences each.
Another tip you can apply in this section is to include keywords and keyword phrases relevant to your industry.
5. Update your LinkedIn Work Experience
Although your headline, picture, and summary are the parts that an individual sees first when they visit your profile, your end goal is to get readers to view your work experience.
The work experience section is where you outline employment changes and promotions that you've received over the years.
Be sure to list the specific positions you held in different firms. However, when you're describing these positions, focus on your accomplishments instead of the duties or roles you played. Remember, you want to show your potential employer that you stand out.
It's also good practice to incorporate relevant keywords and keyword phrases when describing your work experience.
Remember to link back to the company(s) you worked for whenever you mention them. So that if someone were to search for the company, your name would show up as one of the individuals who work/ed there.
6. Update your LinkedIn Skills List
Has it been a long time since you updated the skills section of your LinkedIn profile? If it has, you might want to get to it now, especially if you use your account to look for jobs.
Doing so will allow you to highlight your top skills.
You can add up to 50 skills. Just because you can, does not mean you should. Position yourself as an expert by selecting your top skills instead of choosing many skills that make you look like a jack of all trades.
When you incorporate too many skills, they dilute this focus, which compromises your overall discoverability.
LinkedIn also lets you pick three top skills. Pay extra attention when choosing these. You want to go for skills that best represent your profession or expertise.
7. Ask for Endorsements and Recommendations on LinkedIn
Nothing makes you look more professional or skilled in a given area than praise from an old boss, high-end client, or a colleague. Referrals go a long way, which is why LinkedIn has features explicitly dedicated to this.
To be a little more specific, the platform allows you to ask for an endorsement or a recommendation.
With endorsements, you request someone to vouch for a particular skill, whereas the latter entails asking someone to write a recommendation for you.
Asking for a recommendation is relatively easy. Click on the “Ask for a recommendation” button. Type the name of the individual from whom you want a recommendation, specify how you know them, then customize the message to send them.
When drafting your message, be sure to mention the skill or set of skills they should recommend. You can also request they endorse you for a given skill.
While it sounds simple, getting someone to recommend or endorse you can feel uncomfortable. It feels like you are asking for a favor, but you have not given them anything in return. That's why it is easier if you provide them with a recommendation and endorsement first. By being proactive and taking the first step, you'll encourage them to reciprocate and do the same for you.
Another risk of asking for a recommendation is that you may get negative feedback. Thankfully, LinkedIn lets you review your recommendation before it's posted. It means that if there's anything that you don't like in the feedback, you have a chance to ask them to make edits before you post it to your profile.
If your circumstances change, you can always hide irrelevant endorsements in the future.
8. Edit your LinkedIn Public Profile and URL
For many LinkedIn users, the URL is an afterthought. But this shouldn't be the case. Personalizing your public profile URL makes you a lot easier to find, more so for users who have very common names.
To customize, navigate your way to the top right section of your profile. Click on the “Edit your custom URL” and modify it in any way you'd like. To boost your visibility and credibility, be sure to use a variation of your name.
While you're at it, go over your publicity settings as well. If you aim to attract new clientele or employers, don't hide too many details about yourself. You don't want them thinking that you're hiding something or come across as ingenuine.
9. Make Connections on LinkedIn
Modern-day employers aren't only interested in candidates' technical skills. They're also interested in their professional online persona.
To boost your social presence, LinkedIn lets you build a network of connections. Ideally, it would help if you created as many meaningful connections as you can.
Doing so improves your credibility significantly. For instance, if a potential client or employer sees that you have many connections, they'll assume that you're a pleasant and likable person, which increases your chances of getting hired.
Another benefit of having multiple connections is that it helps you stay informed about the latest developments in your company or related industry. Whenever new opportunities arise, you will be among the first people to know.
Besides, this also conveys the message that you're an active LinkedIn user, which means you treasure or take business relationships seriously.
Now, this doesn't mean that you should go overboard and create a connection with every profile you come across. Instead, look for contacts that are related to your industry.
10. Write Content to Share on LinkedIn
Another way to optimize your profile is to generate content. LinkedIn lets you achieve this goal in one of two ways: creating posts or articles. A post is a short blurb, whereas an article is a little bit longer.
Creating your own content has its perks, one of which is to encourage engagement. Whenever you post or write an article, you're encouraging your contacts to react, whether it's by commenting or sharing with others.
The second benefit is that it boosts your credibility. Share content related to the industry so that potential employers or clients can get a sense of your interests and area of expertise.
Do you have a LinkedIn account but feel like you're not using it effectively?
Be proactive and update your profile now—set reminders to visit LinkedIn often so you can engage with your network and build stronger connections too.
People buy from people. Take control of your brand and keep your LinkedIn Profile update to date.
Learn more about updating your resume and LinkedIn profile by visiting Heather Austin's YouTube channel.