LinkedIn is the most popular social media network for professionals. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and other sites that are used for personal purposes, it's strictly for business. For this reason, signing up for a LinkedIn account and filling out profile information is a little bit different from other social networks.
What to Include
First of all, your profile should be complete. Fill out even the details that you don't believe are important. People will be searching for your profile using all kinds of information. For example, old schoolmates will find you by your education information. Another reason is that a half-completed profile looks lazy. It looks like you don't care enough to take the thirty minutes to finish it.
Be sure to include:
- Work experience – Present and past positions in all fields.
- Education – The schools you've attended and degrees obtained.
- Areas of specialization – These will set you apart from similar profiles.
- Your websites – List all of them that you want people to know about.
- Interests and hobbies – These may not be important but they can offer another connection point between you and others on LinkedIn.
- Awards – Don't be afraid to brag.
- Location – This one is important because lots of people search by geographic location.
Writing your LinkedIn profile may feel like doing your resume, but it's not. You're creating content as well as laying down the facts. Like content for any blog or website, make it readable and interesting. Write it in a professional, AND personable manner in order to make it something that you'd enjoy reading yourself rather than just a laundry list of achievements.
Your Profile Picture
Just like all social media profiles, your LinkedIn profile needs a good picture. It should be a photograph of you. The site doesn't allow logos or funny pictures (and remember, this isn't Facebook, so don't get wacky with it). One of the main purposes of your photo is to show that you're a real person.
Your picture should be friendly but not too casual. Make sure that the sizing is right. It shouldn't be a full body picture where your face is about one pixel. On the other hand, your face shouldn't fill the entire frame.
LinkedIn profiles appear in search engine results so you should keyword optimize. Wherever possible, use targeted keywords that people might use when looking for someone like you. Be careful not to stuff it with the same keywords over and over or else it will look like you're trying to game the site. Use your keywords naturally and tastefully.
Your Unique URL
When you first sign up for LinkedIn, it will assign you a generic URL. You can change it with just a few clicks and keystrokes. Go to 'Edit My Profile' and 'Public Profile.' Click where it says 'edit' and you can enter your own vanity URL.
If possible, use your name. If not, choose something that uses your name and is easy to remember. That's the main point of the vanity URL – it gives people something easy to remember. LinkedIn lets you change it at any time, but pick something good and stick with it. Whenever you change your URL, you'll lose people who have you bookmarked as well as breaking any links you’ve created elsewhere to your personal profile.
The Real You
There are lots of profiles that are just plain boring. You want yours to stand out and the best way to do this is to infuse your own personality. Keep it professional, but don't be afraid to share some personal information as well. That's what makes your profile unique and it will invite others to connect with you.