I had the great pleasure of providing an extensive training session at a large healthcare company in Nashville recently. The topic was how LinkedIn is a powerful professional networking tool. We often think of LinkedIn simply as a service to use when we are seeking employment, but it is much more than that. The following are ten ways you can optimize your personal profile and make the most of LinkedIn. Use these LinkedIn tips to make your profile rise to the top of search results and better grow your business network. Remember to always build your network before you need it. Seek ways to help the people you know by providing them with introductions and by letting them know of opportunities that may benefit them.
10 LinkedIn Tips
1. Optimize your profile with keywords and popular terms in your industry. What would you search for if you were looking for someone like you? Use the words that come to your head. Use Google's Keyword Planner to better define your keywords. It can help you find the most popular words.
2. Paul Kaye started a discussion on LinkedIn's Help Forum to define the maximum number of characters (not words) permitted in each section. By using the maximum count with your keywords, you will improve your profile in search rankings.
3. Under Privacy & Settings. Turn off your activity broadcasts. You have probably been alerted when your connections have changed their profiles, made recommendations, or followed companies. You can turn off these notifications, so your connections won't see every tweak and addition you make to your profile. It also helps if you don't want your boss knowing you're looking for a job.
4. Use a professional profile photo. If you can swing it, hire a photographer to create an impressive headshot. You can also use your smartphone with a photo editing app like Google's Snapseed (iOS / Android) to create a decent headshot.
5. Use LinkedIn to search for relevant industry groups to join. Begin with the industry you are in. For example, I belong to the American Marketing Association (AMA). Find groups in your geographic location. I belong to NAMA and the Nashville chapter of the AMA. When someone finds your profile on LinkedIn, they will learn more about you by the groups you associate yourself with.
6. Create and lead your own LinkedIn Group. My group is the New Business Networking Club. There are several benefits of running your own group. You become the leader, you can introduce fellow members to one another, and you can send emails to every member of your group - whether they are a connection or not.
7. Reserve recommendations for the best people you have done business with. If a person you have no professional experience working with requests a recommendation, consider endorsing them instead.
8. Send personalized connection requests and avoid the default. In your request message, remind the person who you are and where you met. What did you talk about when you met? Perhaps you can follow up with further details. At this time, LinkedIn will automatically send the default connection request if you request it via mobile (applications).
9. Create a public profile URL. Don't be a random group of letters and numbers. Click Edit Profile and Edit the URL below your profile photo. You want it to include your full name if possible. Mine is www.linkedin.com/in/davedelaney for example.
10. Take a moment to see how your profile appears when others find you. You can also customize what appears here by selecting the sections under Profile Content. Click Edit Public Profile to take a look and make tweaks. Be sure you look fantastic to potential business partners, employers, employees, and clients.
Your LinkedIn profile is crucial for your professional networking efforts, even for students. Take the time to walk through these steps and optimize your profile. Don't mistaken LinkedIn as only a tool for job seekers. It is also a powerful business development and networking engine.
Did I miss a tip? Leave a comment with your own.
Photo from Flickr by sheilascarborough
This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.