How to Build a Professional LinkedIn Profile
Think of your LinkedIn profile as an interactive business card. It’s a summary of your professional experience, interests, and capabilities that is designed to attract the attention of important people who are searching for you or your services online.
LinkedIn is a place where you’d keep things pretty buttoned-up and formal. No need to mention your vacation in Las Vegas on LinkedIn. But that white paper you wrote? This is just perfect for LinkedIn.
1 Craft an informative profile headline
Your profile headline gives people a short, memorable way to understand who you are in a professional context. Think of the headline as the slogan for your professional brand. The headline is a bite-sized explanation of what you do and what your value is. Note that your headline shows up ALL OVER LinkedIn, especially in lists.
2. Display an appropriate photo
Remember that LinkedIn is not Facebook or MySpace. If you choose to post a photograph — and we recommend that you do — select a professional, high-quality headshot of you alone. Party photos, cartoon avatars, and cute pics of your puppy don’t fit in the professional environment of LinkedIn.
From a marketing and branding perspective it’s a good idea to be consistent with your photo — if you have a photo on other social networking sites it’s a good idea to use the same photo everywhere and also ensure that your name is used the same way on all social media sites. This is important for SEO and for building your online brand.
3. Show off your education
Be sure to include information about all institutions you’ve attended. Include your major and minor if you have one, as well as highlights of your activities.
Your LinkedIn profile is an appropriate place to show off any honors or awards you’ve won.
4. Develop a professional summary statement
Your summary statement should resemble the first few paragraphs of your best-written cover letter — concise and confident about your goals and qualifications. Remember to include relevant internships, volunteer work, and extracurricular. Present your summary statement in short blocks of text for easy reading. Bullet points are great, too.
5. Fill your “ Specialities” section with keywords
“ Specialities” is the place to include key words and phrases that a recruiter or hiring manager might type into a search engine to find a person like you. The best place to find relevant keywords is in the job listings that appeal to you and the LinkedIn profiles of people who currently hold the kinds of positions you want.
6. Update your status weekly
A great way to stay on other people’s radar screens and enhance your professional image is to update your status at least once a week. Tell people about events you’re attending, major projects you’ve completed, professional books you’re reading, or any other news that you would tell someone at a networking reception or on a quick catch-up phone call.
7. Show your connectedness with LinkedIn Group badges
Joining Groups and displaying the group badges on your profile are the perfect ways to fill out the professionalism of your profile and show your desire to connect to people with whom you have something in common. You can join up to 50 LinkedIn groups which will give you access to thousands of professional contacts.
8. Collect diverse recommendations
Nothing builds credibility like third-party endorsements. The most impressive LinkedIn profiles have at least one recommendation associated with each position a person has held. Think about soliciting recommendations from professors, internship coordinators and colleagues, employers, and professional mentors.
9. Claim your unique LinkedIn URL
To increase the professional results that appear when people type your name into a search engine, set your LinkedIn profile to “public” and claim a unique URL for your profile (for example: www.linkedin.com/in/yourname). This also makes it easier to include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature, which is a great way to demonstrate your professionalism.
10. Share your work
A final way to enhance your LinkedIn profile is to add examples of your writing, design work, or other accomplishments by displaying URLs or adding LinkedIn Applications. By including URLs, you can direct people to your website, blog, or Twitter feed. Through Applications, you can share a PowerPoint or store a downloadable version of your resume.