Nine LinkedIn Tips for Personal Branding Success

LinkedIn blocksEvery professional needs to have a LinkedIn profile since, as a career networking platform, it is growing more and more important every day for making career connections. Some people think it’s only for job seekers, but that’s not the case. LinkedIn is a very big, very credible website. It is actually the 14th most popular website of all the sites on the internet. It has 467 million accounts, of which about 25% are active.

Because it has a “gated access” approach, people tend to trust it. What do I mean by gated access? People have to be introduced to you, or connect with you intentionally by accepting an invitation in order to have access to all your information. It is an invaluable resource for networking, job seeking, finding job candidates, and for B-to-B selling. Another attribute that is often overlooked is that Google finds it to be credible, so Google sends a lot of people there who are searching for specific peoples’ names. So if you are trying to optimize your own name, it is important to have a LinkedIn profile with information about your background, credentials and, in my opinion, your personal brand. What’s that? It’s what makes you different from everyone else who does the same thing you do.

For example, if you are a plumber or an electrician, you need to tell the story about why you are different from other plumbers or electricians. What is your unique value proposition? That information, which is your personal brand, should be placed right into the summary section of your LinkedIn profile. Then, when people are searching for a plumber or electrician who has your unique skill set and background, your profile will show up highly in an online search.

Since LinkedIn ranks so highly in search engines, your LinkedIn profile will likely appear whenever anyone searches for your name. So if you meet someone at a Chamber meeting, or a new banker is checking out your background, they’ll find your LinkedIn profile when they type in your name.

Here are my nine tips for LinkedIn success:

  1. Your head shot is vital. Don’t use a snapshot that your spouse took at your last birthday party or backyard barbecue. Invest in a professional photographer to take a photo that reflects a professional image. Make sure you use a current photo, too. If you have a 10-year old photo, then you show up at a meeting looking like you have aged ten years, you will not give a good first impression. LinkedIn tells us that users who have photos are seven times more likely to be contacted with professional opportunities.
  2. Make sure your work history is complete. Describe all the positions you have held, making sure you use keywords that people would be using to search for you, or someone with your background and credentials.
  3. Connect with at least 50 people, because this helps broaden your network through second and third degree LinkedIn connections. Those second and third degree contacts are the ones who are most likely to pay off in terms of referrals, recommendations and opportunities.
  4. Create a simplified URL. Go into LinkedIn settings so your profile’s web address is simple. Mine is www.linkedin.com/in/nancymarshall. Think about adding your LinkedIn profile to your email signature and your business card.
  5. Make sure your headline and summary are complete and full of key words. Here’s your opportunity to exude your personal brand by writing about what makes you stand out from others who do the same thing as you do. So, don’t just say you’re a dentist, or an attorney, or a mechanic, use adjectives about what makes you the best dentist, attorney or mechanic. What’s your superpower? Make sure you fully describe the reasons why you are different and unique.
  6. Add content to your profile, whether it’s an original article that you have written or whether you repost content you find on other peoples’ sites. More and more, LinkedIn is going to be used as a blogging platform where people share interesting articles and posts that help define who they are and help them connect with like-minded professionals.

Here’s what NOT to do:

  1. Don’t use words that everyone else uses, such as experienced, innovative, or creative.
  2. Don’t use LinkedIn exclusively for yourself. In other words, think about how you can give recommendations to others in order to help them advance their career. Being greedy and expecting others will always recommend you if you recommend them will not reflect well on your reputation.
  3. Don’t use cryptic language to describe what you do and assume everyone will understand. Be sure to fully explain any industry jargon in your profile.

It’s vitally important to look at LinkedIn several times a week and congratulate people who are celebrating work anniversaries, birthdays or other accolades. It’s also vital to continuously broaden your professional network. The more people in your professional network, the more people you have access to, which will pay off in ways you may never imagine.

Think of the age-old question you’ve been asked, “Hey, do you know someone who does…” If you are the one who does the dot, dot, dot, you want to be the first one who comes to mind. And LinkedIn will help you stay there.

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