A vast number of people – 300 million to be exact – have set up LinkedIn profiles to showcase their expertise and connect with like-minded professionals and perspective customers. But how many of those 300 million have really spent the time creating a comprehensive profile?
It’s not uncommon to receive a request to connect from someone who hasn’t bothered to add a photo, a summary or even list their past employment. Why bother?
Regardless of your industry or your current rung on the job ladder, LinkedIn has become a go-to spot for business professionals, job seekers and companies looking to hire. In this day and age, people search for other people online. It’s that first step even before sending an email or making a sales call. That means having a complete and professional LinkedIn profile is key.
Here are some must-have items to create a useful LinkedIn profile:
- Photo: A social media no-no is to create a profile of any kind and leave out your photo. Don’t use a photo of your kids, your dog or your favorite flower. Use a professional headshot. This doesn’t mean ask your spouse or a co-worker to snap a photo with their iPhone. Invest in a headshot taken by a professional photographer. Many offer inexpensive headshot sessions in their studio. You’ll find it’s money well spent.
- Contact Info: Include a professional email address, phone number and personal or business website. Make it incredibly easy for someone to find you. You certainly don’t want to miss out on a job lead or a potential new client.
- Summary: This is where you make a first impression. This space in your profile is ideal for highlighting your unique skills and specific areas of expertise. Don’t make the summary too long but think about what sets you apart and then write about 200 words outlining your skills. Add your contact information here too – again you’re making it easy for people to reach out.
- Experience: Here’s where you go into detail about past jobs and your achievements. This is the perfect spot to explain projects and highlight your skills in leadership, software programs, marketing and more.
- Updates: Use your space on LinkedIn to post updates about your current work, share relevant articles or research and bring attention to any professional endeavors (promotions, speaking engagements, awards, etc.).
Once you have your profile complete, don’t forget to make updates to your professional accomplishments as needed. Your contacts will receive notice that you’ve changed jobs or scored a promotion and that keeps you top of mind.