Getting the most out of online networking can be tough. Today on Fuel Your Writing, Grace Myers helps us to do so, by outlining the process for creating a professional and engaging LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn can be an extremely powerful tool for showcasing your professional skills and accomplishments. You can connect with others, learn from those in your field and let your business shine in front of over 135 million members worldwide.
Unlike other social media platforms, LinkedIn users are all serious professionals looking to build relationships and grow their knowledge of industry trends. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn offers access to a specific demographic – those interested in professional networking.
Despite LinkedIn’s boundless capacities for marketing yourself and business, few of us ever tap into its full potential. Follow these simple steps to write a better LinkedIn profile, which will appeal more to other professionals, potential employers and clients.
Stage 1: Get Prepared
- Research profiles of professionals in your field. Examine well-organized and effective profiles to gather ideas. Take a look at mine for an example of a simple profile.
- Examine your skills from the perspective of a potential employer and/ or client. Include – and emphasize – your skills and accomplishments that employers want to know. Each section you write should answer the question, “why should I hire this person” or “why do I want to know this person” immediately.
- Create an outline. One easy way to being your profile outline is to add your skills to the skills section, then write the positions you’ve held in chronological order. Take a close look at these two lists and determine three attributes or accomplishments that set you apart from others.
- Fill in the details. LinkedIn allows you to add more specifics than a standard CV, so take advantage! Go into more depth about your accomplishments and projects that you’ve completed. Remember to always write from the perspective of a potential employer and client.
Stage 2: Build the Foundation
Now that you have a detailed outline, you can start filling out each of your profile’s sections.
Summary: First impressions matter. Make yours impactful by clearly describing your central skills and what you can offer them. Use an upbeat and highly professional tone to describe yourself in the first person. The goal of the summary’s writing is to clearly describe what you do while boldly illustrating your energy, confidence and enthusiasm for your work.
Experience: Simply listing your job titles along isn’t enough to create an impactful profile. Add lots of details about your current roles, achievements, leadership and projects. Similar to writing your CV, make sure to use active verbs and specific information whenever possible.
Past experience and education: When explaining your previous positions and education, use a similar writing style as the “experience” section. Include only three or four of your most important and pertinent accomplishments for each past position to prevent your profile from becoming too long.
Stage 3: Polish
Now that you’ve written the bulk of your profile, it’s time to polish the content so it stands out.
- Keep writing concise. LinkedIn profiles can easily become cluttered and difficult to read because there is so much information. To keep things looking clean, keep sentences and points about 15 – 20 words long. Get rid of any unnecessary words to keep your content concise and powerful – and remember to write from the potential employer’s viewpoint.
For example, change “My web design packages are of superior quality to change your business” to “Your website will drive growth after improvements with my superior web design packages.”
- Keep layout clean. Visually separating the content is vital for improving your profile’s readability. However, this is very much a matter of personal preference. Experiment with adding spaces between points, moving sections around and using different symbols to separate key points.
- Use LinkedIn tools to keep your profile looking sharp. LinkedIn offers several quick fixes to improve your profile’s look. Customize the names of your websites by choosing “other” in the drop-down menu. Customize your public URL to be easier to read and remember. Finally, instead of using simple bullet points or dashes to denote your points, use one of your browser’s special characters and symbols.
- Edit, edit, edit. Print out the PDF version of your profile to check for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Stage 4: Add Extras
Take advantage of LinkedIn’s many applications to make your profile more dynamic and interesting. Include your blog posts with the WordPress or BlogLink so your connections stay up-to-date with your projects, events and thoughts. Let others know what you’re reading with the Reading List by Amazon. You can also display some of your best presentations or documents with the SlideShare and Creative Portfolio Display apps.
Stage 5: Update
Now that you’ve created a lean-and-mean profile, make sure that others continue to view it over and over by updating frequently. Every two weeks, change something in your profile – your summary, a description of your experience or an application. Another easy way to keep your profile’s content fresh is to routinely update your status with links to articles you’ve written, articles about your projects and business, thoughts and ideas.
These five stages are simple ways to improve your LinkedIn profile’s content. Do you have other strategies for creating a great profile? Have you found a particularly great profile? Please share your thoughts!
Grace Myers writes for corporations and small business, specializing in corporate communications and employee engagement. She blogs at Better Writing in Business. She’s an avid reader, traveler and Twins fan. Grace received a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame and a MA in Contemporary Literature from the University of York in the UK.