LinkedIn has become a critical business networking tool; and it can be a powerful resource when it comes to developing your personal brand. In order to maximize your exposure on LinkedIn, you should take full advantage of its features and optimize your LinkedIn branding campaign.
1. Add Your Picture - People are visual – they like to see with whom they are communicating. It is acceptable (and desirable) to have a picture on your LinkedIn profile.
2. Edit Your LinkedIn URL - You can leverage your name as part of developing your brand. Click on Profile, then Edit Profile, and go to the last item in the blue box called Public Profile. Click on edit and a page will come up. On the right hand side, there will be a box where you can enter your name. If you have a more common name, try to enter your first name, middle initial, and last name. This will allow you to extend your name brand. If someone is looking for you, your LinkedIn profile will appear with a higher ranking in Google.
3. Modify Your Headline - Take advantage of the branding power of LinkedIn by modifying your headline. If you are trying to position yourself for career advancement, this is an important element that should not be overlooked. By default, LinkedIn puts your most recent job title in the headline. You can modify this by going to Profile, Edit Profile, and clicking on Edit next to your name.
Using keywords that are likely to be searched by potential recruiters can help you. If your most recent title was Sales Manager and you want to become a Director of Software Sales, you should create a headline that supports your efforts. For example: Software Sales Manager / Director. This is more specific. When a hiring manager is seeking a software sales manager or a software sales director, your name will be more likely to come up in the search.
4. Make Your LinkedIn Profile Flawless - Consider working with a professional writer to create a compelling and keyword rich profile that is 100% error free.
5. Ask For Recommendations - Ask your present or former colleagues, superiors, and/or subordinates, for recommendations. To do so, click on Profile, then Recommendations and send them a brief note. You can customize the standard letter that appears.
When recruiters and hiring managers see all the positive things that others have said about you, it reinforces your brand. It is up to you whether or not you want to accept a recommendation. You can accept and the recommendation will appear on your profile, or can choose to keep a recommendation hidden.
6. Join and Participate in Groups – I can’t say enough about the importance of groups. They help you to extend your reach; if used wisely your participation can enhance your professional branding efforts tremendously. You can post discussion topics and comments, provide links to valuable information the group would appreciate, and reach out directly to other group members for proactive networking.
LinkedIn provides a great way to promote your personal brand. It is also a fabulous place to get more information about what is going on in your industry and can help you establish some important relationships that might lead to future opportunities. It is simple to use and should be an integral part of any comprehensive job search strategy.
Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries.