Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Creating a Better LinkedIn Profile

While researching for my presentation on "Effective Use of LinkedIn" a few weeks ago, I discovered that my LinkedIn profile could be improved. Like most people, I had simply copied and pasted my resume into LinkedIn with hardly a second thought. Now, while I have a good resume, that didn't necessarily make for a good LinkedIn profile. So I set out to create a better LinkedIn profile. There are three things that make for a good LinkedIn profile:

  • be machine-readable, yet also people-readable
  • promote networking and sharing
  • provide lots of handles for people find you

Machine-readable, Yet Also People-readable

By machine-readable, I am referring to keywords. LinkedIn provides its users with a powerful tool to Find and Be Found -- the LinkedIn People search. Here, users can plug in criteria for keywords, names, titles, companies, locations, industries. The more "relevant" you are in a search the higher you will place in the search results. So that means that your profile should emphasize the terms you think people will use to try and find someone like you. Not just big keywords like "CFO" or "Accounting" but the little ones like "FASB" or "SOX" that represent the more specialized knowledge and experience that you have.

By people-readable, you have to remember that, while the keyword search will get you higher in the search standings, it is a person that will make the final decision on whether your profile gets read and acted upon. So, your profile should be readable, attractive, and designed to motivate the reader to act -- call you up, send you a note, ask for a referral from a friend, etc.

A response to my question about what makes a good LinkedIn profile brought the advice to write your profile in the first-person -- using "I, me, and my" sentences -- rather than the more business-style third-person.

Promote Networking and Sharing

LinkedIn is about connecting with people, using LinkedIn as a tool to help you build and maintain trusted relationships with the people you meet and work with. So, it might be appropriate for you to include a sentence or two on why you are on LinkedIn, what sort of help you are willing to provide people, etc.

Provide Handles for People to Find You

This is the keyword idea, but with a slightly different twist. One of the best sources of connections is people you used to work with, and by listing all your previous jobs and previous companies, you give your former co-workers a better chance at finding and connecting with you. Even better, LinkedIn will keep you apprised as new people from your past employers join LinkedIn.

Another way to make connections is by your interests and your involvement in Groups. Not only does this give people a good sense of you as a "whole person," but it also creates opportunities for you to meet people with similar interests or involvements.

So, what changes did I make to my profile?

Well, here is the original one, created by condensing language in my professional biography. (You do have a professional biography, don't you? It's much better for networking than a resume.) It reads nicely, but I think it fails the test of being "machine-readable," as it is filled with nice-sounding phrases that no one would ever enter into a search engine. It is "people-readable," but it could be warmer, a bit more inviting. Also, there's really no "call to action." Does this profile make you want to get in touch with me? Well, I have been pretty successful in using LinkedIn to drive my business, so it must've worked, but I thought I could do better.

Here is the new profile. Note the use of the first person, and the style (at least in the summary) is more conversational. I've changed my positioning slightly, less strictly "high tech PR" and more on applying my experience with PR to helping companies and individuals create an "integrated approach" to marketing themselves through social media, Web, and PR activities.

I'm working in a lot of keywords, but not obviously so. Note how many times the phrases "public relations," "social media," "marketing," and "LinkedIn" are used. There are also some subtler keywords -- "consultant, coach, writer, and speaker." I've also gotten a lot more specific in my "Specialties" section.

I'm also making use of words like apply, share, focus, connect, and help. I mention specifically how I use LinkedIn and how to ask me for a connection.

My improved LinkedIn profileSo far I've gotten some good feedback from my new profile from people who have seen it. Since LinkedIn shares profile updates with my first-degree connections, a lot of them saw my new profile without my having to push it to them. I'm interested to see how it performs. I by no means think this is finished. I'm sure I will continue to tweak it. I need to beef up my activities and interests sections, for example.

1 comment:

Zeeshan said...

Having an eye catchy headline, a profile with a bit of personal info, using recommendations, having a perfect call to action, adding relevant videos or images etc are some of the ways in which you can make your linkedin profile stand out from the rest.. Read on for more at