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Ten Simple Steps to a Powerful LinkedIn Profile  E-mail

LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking site online with over 100 million users in the U.S. and over 313 million users worldwide as of January 2014. Using LinkedIn as a networking tool can help expand your network of contacts, clients, leads and referral partners. And just like networking in person, when networking on LinkedIn, first impressions count.

Making a good first impression on LinkedIn begins with having a completely filled in professional profile. Your profile is not an uploaded copy of your resume. I like to think of it as a sales and marketing document you can use to promote yourself and your business.

To build a LinkedIn profile that gets results, follow these ten steps:

1. Complete your profile. According to LinkedIn having a completed profile provides you with a 40% greater chance for networking success. The only thing worse than not having a profile is having an incomplete one. And, when it comes to search results, LinkedIn is more likely to rank completed profiles over partially finished ones.

2. Upload a Professional Profile Picture. If you don't have a photo, you need to get one. Profiles without photos are rarely viewed as they are thought to be inactive. Your photo should be square, from 200 x 200 to 500 x 500 pixels, 4MB maximum. This should be a professional looking photo, no distracting backgrounds, no sunglasses or hats that hide your face. I recommend a close-up and a smile.

3. Optimize for Keywords. Think of the People Search function on LinkedIn as Google Search for Professionals. If you want to show up at the top of search results you need to use your keywords throughout your profile. What words might your ideal client use if they were searching on Google for someone who does what you do?

4. Customize your Professional Headline. The headline that appears below your name is included on every reference about you on the site and in search results. You have 120 characters to attract your target market's attention and encourage them to click through to your profile. Think of your headline as a networking introduction, not a job title, and be sure to use your keywords. So instead of saying “Accountant” or “Tax Accountant” you might say “Denver Small Business Tax Accountant,” or “Small Business Accounting, Tax Planning, Bookkeeping,” or “Accountant providing affordable tax and bookkeeping solutions to small businesses.”

Here are some examples:
Donna Feldman Business Coach | Social Media Trainer | Networking Expert | Get Clients Now!™ | Social Media Marketing Coach | Speaker

C.J. Hayden Author, Business Coach & Thinking Partner to Entrepreneurs

5. Keyword Load Your Current & Past Work History.  The work history section has 3 fields: Title, Company Name, and Description. In the title field you might be tempted to use “CEO,” “Vice President,” “Owner,” or some other generic term, but how many people will search for you using those keywords? Instead of using Regional Vice-President at XYZ Corporation you could say Regional Vice-President and In-House Legal Counsel. A common mistake is to use the company name as part of the Title field. Company Name has its own title field so there's no need to repeat it twice. Be sure to include your keywords in the Title and Description areas.

6. Summary. After the Headline, the Summary is the single most important part of your profile. You have about 2/3 of a printed page to share who you are and what you do.  Don't make this a boring bio. It's okay to show a little personality here —it’s the one free-form field on LinkedIn where you can speak to the reader in a human voice. Don't forget to use your keywords throughout your summary and end with a call to action.

7. Customize your Website listings.  LinkedIn allows you to add up to three website links in your profile. Do not use their generic labels such as “My Company” or “My Blog.” Always click “Other” and change the words to describe what you offer such as “Business Coaching” or “Marketing Classes” or the title of your free e-book.

8. Customize your Public LinkedIn URL. Make sure you change this as it makes your profile look more professional and it's easier to share. Using your name helps your LinkedIn profile show up in search results on major search engines when someone searches for you. Mine is .

9. Add to Your Skills & Expertise. You can pick up to 50 skills from the LinkedIn database. This is keyword-centric so think about every professional skill you want to promote and list it here. The Endorsements feature allows users to endorse their connections for skills listed in the Skills & Expertise section so make sure the skills you picked are in alignment with your branding objective.

10. Everything else... To complete your profile, fill in your Education, Interests, Honors & Awards, Organizations, Publications, Projects, Courses, Certifications, Volunteering & Causes, Contacting and any other relevant sections.

And that's it, you should now have a completely filled in, professional, searchable, LinkedIn profile. What's next? Now you can add connections, ask for Recommendations, post status updates, join Groups, and use LinkedIn to network and grow your business.


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Copyright © 2012, The Networking Gurus, Donna Feldman and Cindy Rold.

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