If you're not actively using LinkedIn you're missing out. The professional social network just surpassed 300 million users, which is more than Twitter. If you question why you should invest your time, consider how LinkedIn just spent 1.5 billion in their acquisition of Lynda.com, an online education company. That's a move by a company that has big plans for it's future. If that doesn't convince you, consider that one new member is joining LinkedIn every two seconds.
At Futureforth.com, my job is to review personal profiles and train companies how to capitalize using LinkedIn. Here are the top five personal profile LinkedIn mistakes I see frequently made and how to fix them.
1. No head shot. Let’s face it, doing business with someone without a head is pretty unappealing. Your eyes are the windows to your soul, so why not share them and the rest of your beautiful face while you’re at it?
Choose a professional head shot. Never use a goofy photo (unless you’re in the business of being a goof). Avoid cropping others out of photos. It looks odd to have a profile photo with someone’s hair along the edge or a random hand on your shoulder.
2. Sending default connection requests.
I’d Like to Add you to My Professional Network on LinkedIn.
I’d like you to tell me who the heck you are? Where did we meet? What did we talk about? Why do you want to connect on LinkedIn?
Make sending a connection request part of your networking effort. When you meet someone new, follow up with a connection request. Do this by sending a custom message and include where you met and what you talked about. Here’s an example.
It was a pleasure meeting you at the Refrigerator Conference. I had no idea you had such a rich history in the industry. It was a pleasure speaking with you over lunch.
Let’s be sure to keep connected via LinkedIn. If I can provide you with an introduction to someone in my network, please let me know.
A caveat to this rule is an issue with mobile. Unfortunately, LinkedIn mobile apps automatically send the default connection request message. Even if you accidentally send the default, follow it up with a normal email.
3. Not selecting skills. How can you pay the bills if you don’t show off your skills? The skills you choose to be associated with will become LinkedIn endorsements from your connections. On the flip-side, if you find you are being endorsed for older skills, it’s time to update your skills section.
4. Writing a crummy summary. Take the time to write a killer summary that tells visitors to your profile about you. Who are you? What do you do? What are your amazing talents, and how have they helped your employer or clients? Avoid being too boastful, but don’t be shy about including milestones and facts, figures and statistics related to your successes. People want to know they are connecting with a winner.
5. No keywords or terms. In this day and age we always need to consider search engines when creating content online. Our LinkedIn profiles are not excluded in this. Gone are the days of a recruiter finding your resume because it was printed on pretty paper (that once worked). They use search tools to seek out candidates by searching LinkedIn.
You want your profile to be optimized and appealing so people find you and want to connect.
You must be sure to include relevant keywords and terms related to your industry in your profile and LinkedIn headline. As I always advise my clients, don’t write your profile littered with keywords, write it so it is pleasant to read for humans. Just don’t forget about the robots that also read it. Be strategic in how you include those keywords for LinkedIn so the bots can find you, too.
Just as you would want your brick and mortar business to be appealing so customers enter, you want your profile to be optimized and appealing so people find you and want to connect.
Don’t file this post away for later. Get started updating your profile now.
This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.