Monday, August 17, 2009

LinkedIn Profile Help from a Social Media Expert

Want to make the most of your LinkedIn profile? It's not hard to do... if you know how. In this interview, Brenda Bernstein, LinkedIn expert and owner of The Essay Expert LLC, explains exactly how to make your profile pay off.

Question: What are the three most important things to do when creating your LinkedIn profile?
Only three? Oh my, there are so many. But I’ll give it a shot:

1. Be aware of the first 3 things anyone sees in your profile: Your photo, your headline, and your status bar. To that end, get a good head shot; write an informative and catchy headline and update your status bar frequently with useful and relevant information.

These three items are not throw-aways. Give them the attention they deserve.

2. Be clear about who you are, what you have to offer, and what your purpose is in having a LinkedIn profile. Utilize that clarity in every section of your profile, and especially in your Summary section (the next most prominent piece of your profile after your photo, headline and status bar).

If you own a company, be sure to distinguish who you are from who your company is. Otherwise your readers will be confused. And you don’t want that. They might stop reading.

3. Learn everything you can about LinkedIn. Learn what applications are available and how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile. There are lots of great articles out there. Do some research! And if you don’t have time to do the research, hire someone to do it for you and maximize the effectiveness of your profile.

Question: What are the most common mistakes people make when writing their profiles?
I wrote a blog post on this very topic: Your LinkedIn Profile, 10 Most Common Errors and Omissions. Perhaps the common denominator is that people do not put time and energy into creating the best LinkedIn profile possible. Many people do not take their LinkedIn profiles seriously – which is a serious mistake.

It is becoming more and more essential to treat your LinkedIn profile like a job application or marketing tool. Anyone interested in who you are will go to LinkedIn to find you. You don’t want them to find a weakly presented profile. Make your profile a great one and distinguish yourself from the field!

Question: Is it really important to have a photo? What about discrimination?
LinkedIn is a networking website. Would you go to a live networking event with a bag over your head? I doubt it. So why would you hide your appearance on LinkedIn? If your concern is that you will be discriminated against, consider that if you obtained an interview the employer or recruiter would meet you in person anyway and have an opportunity to discriminate against you then. I’d like to think that employers follow the law and do not make their judgments based on illegal factors, but even if one did, would you want to work for that employer?

Although I wrote in my blog that I understand people have privacy concerns, I really don’t see an upside to posting a profile without a photo.

Question: How long and detailed should your profile be?
The answer to this questions depends on your current goal. Are your past work experiences relevant to that goal? If not, leave them out or write very short summaries of those jobs.

As you would do with a resume, list achievements that will impress your intended readers. But there’s no need to recreate your entire resume unless it’s relevant.

The length of the Summary statement is limited to 2,000 characters and I recommend using a good part of that limit. The Summary is where you can put your keywords for Search Engine Optimization. This is not the place to skimp!

Have 10 recommendations if you can. Depending on your goals, you may want more than that. The nice thing about the number 10 is that it allows you to join the Top Recommended Group on LinkedIn where many talented professionals are lurking!

Attention spans are short, so no matter how much you write, write it well.

Question: Do you recommend listing your email address in your profile? If so, where and how would you put it?
My personal strategy is not to list my email address, but instead to encourage people to visit my website and contact me through there. I also set my LinkedIn contact settings so that I can receive LinkedIn emails from anyone, not just from people in my network. That way I can determine whether the person is someone I would like to give my direct email address.

There are rumors brewing that LinkedIn is shutting down profiles that include an email address. I don’t know whether those are true. Many people do include their email address in their profile, and it definitely invites connection. If you are willing to receive spam then I see no other downside to listing your address, other than perhaps the fabled LinkedIn crackdown. If you choose to include your address, you can put it in your Summary section or in your Contact Settings.

Question: How often should you update the "Status Bar" section? Why?
Update your status bar every few days if you can. If you are a job seeker it shows recruiters and employers that you are actively and regularly putting energy into your job search, and models for them that you will be on the ball on the job. If you own a business it shows potential clients that you are available and in communication.

An old, dusty status bar reflects that you are not serious about whatever you are up to, or that you have let your guard down. See my articles Your Linkedin Profile Status Bar: What Do You Want Them to Know and Your Linkedin Profile Status Bar: Tips for Job Seekers.

Question: What do you offer in your LinkedIn profile reviews?
I go through every section and every word of your profile and give you my feedback and line edits for you to implement. I let you know whether you are presenting yourself in the best light possible and provide suggestions for how to do it better. I even go through every recommendation to make sure there are no errors, and I send you suggested edits for you to send to your recommenders. I leave no stone unturned! If you need more in-depth retooling of your profile and want me to work on that with you, I have a separate hourly rate for that service.

For recommendations of my LinkedIn profile review service, see my LinkedIn profile.

To purchase your LinkedIn profile review, go to my website, The Essay Expert. My current fee is $50. I am offering $10 off my regular price for the first 10 people who mention Susan Ireland’s Job Lounge blog. I look forward to hearing from you and to creating your professional LinkedIn image!


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda, for the informative interview. I hope you'll come back to the Job Lounge another time.

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