Most people don't enjoy working on their LinkedIn profiles. They'd much rather be relaxing or pursuing other interests instead of staring at a computer screen trying to optimize their online presence. It's hard enough working 40+ hours each week. Taking away from our free time to develop our professional identity online sounds boring - which makes it easy to put off.
Brand or BE Branded: Why A Crummy LinkedIn Profile Hurts Your Career Identity
For years, I've been telling professionals, "Brand or BE branded," when it comes to your online presence. It started when I was speaking to a group of executives. They questioned the importance of having a well-developed profile. Wasn't their name and job title enough? My answer was as follows:
When you fail to create a full LinkedIn profile, you are telling the professional world one or more of the following: A) You aren't tech-savvy enough to know how to use social media. B) You don't have any truly notable accomplishments. Or, C) You have something to hide. To sum it up, not branding your career success online is a rookie mistake.
As you can imagine, the executives in the room suddenly started paying attention. No successful C-suite member wants to be called a "rookie." Especially, when it comes to errors in professional judgement.
Would You Walk Into a Networking Party Naked, In Old Sweat Pants, Or Without Shoes?
You would never go to an in-person networking party naked, dressed in your dirty old sweat pants, or without any shoes. Why? You want to make a good first impression. Yet, failing to fully optimize your LinkedIn profile has the same effect online as coming to the party dressed wrong. You risk looking like a rookie. Or even worse, like someone to avoid. The solution is to take the time to get up-to-speed on the right way to complete your profile. To help you, here are five classic mistakes that scream "I'm a rookie!" on LinkedIn.
Mistake #1 - No photo (or, a bad one). Selecting the right photo is important. Studies show people are 7X more likely to click on your profile if there's a picture. While not having a photo isn't good, having a bad photo is worse. You need to make sure your picture is sending the right message. A smiling headshot that is well-lit, with a neutral, non-distracting background is the ideal.
Mistake #2 - Lame headline. The headline is the most important piece of real estate on your profile. It's directly tied to the search feature in LinkedIn. People find you based on keyword searches. If you have the terms they are searching on in your headline, you'll rise to the top of their list of results. Optimizing your headline with the keyword you want to be known for is a must-do.
Mistake #3 - Long-winded Summary written in the third person. Nothing screams, "I'm self-important," like an excessively long summary written in the third person. The word 'summary' by definition means short. Keep it that way! Use this section of LinkedIn to roll-up your accomplishments into two to three quantifiable accomplishments. Don't put the reader to sleep with an epic novel. Instead, tease the reader with a short, impactful summary so they want to keep reading.
Mistake #4 - Skipped filling out the Work History. It's not where you worked, it's what you accomplished that matters. We know that numbers are the most memorable thing on a LinkedIn profile. Taking the time to list the top three to five quantifiable accomplishments you achieved at each job ensures readers know what you are doing.
Mistake #5 - Zero recommendations tied to jobs. Not having anybody take the time to write out and attach a recommendation to your more recent positions can make people wonder about you. Why don't colleagues want to compliment you publicly? Without recommendations, others will wonder about your teamwork and ability to play nice with others. You should strive to have at least one recommendation (preferably, two) for any jobs in the last 10 years of your professional life.
Those Are Just the Rookie Mistakes - There's More You Should Know
While the above are the biggest mistakes, there's still a lot of other things to consider when building the best possible presence on LinkedIn. Things like keyword optimization, what skills to showcase, and what additional experience to include are all advanced attributes of LinkedIn profile optimization that can not only help you look good online, but can actually make you stand out and get contacted more by people interested in your abilities. Which leads to the number one reason why you should invest time and energy in your LinkedIn profile...
Every Business-of-One Needs A Killer Website (That Means YOU!)
If you haven't figured it out already, gone are the days of working for a company for your entire life. We aren't employees anymore. We are businesses-of-one that must always be thinking about how to market ourselves. You just never know when you'll need to find a new customer (employer). Having a great website for your business-of-one is a must-do. Your LinkedIn profile is that website. Failing to build your profile out properly can hurt your ability to stay employed. For those of you looking for direct feedback on your LinkedIn profile and help getting it optimized, you can check out this new program called, "LinkedIn Level + UP."
Don't ignore your LinkedIn profile. It's not rocket science, but it does take a little time and education to get your profile working for you. You don't want to be the person that is seen as being behind the times, do you? Come to the online professional party of LinkedIn looking your best!