Being a tech-savvy millennial, I thought I knew everything there was to know about LinkedIn.
But even I have not been using the professional website to its full potential.
According to Maria Semple, Tuesday’s speaker at Sobel & Co’s Executive Women’s Breakfast Program “Are You Linked In or Linked Out?,” I could — and should — be doing so much more.
Semple, a.k.a. the “LinkedIn Guru,” helps nonprofit organizations and corporations find and connect with potential clients or employees with her Bridgewater-based company The Prospect Finder.
Here, I thought I’d weigh in on some of the tips she provided for LinkedIn members looking to create or revamp their public profiles for networking, recruiting or job searching purposes:
1. Before editing your profile, be sure to turn off your “activity broadcasts” settings; then, be sure to turn it back on the next time you update your profile with broadcast-worthy news!
2. A professional headshot will not only make you easier to find, but will also better represent you and your business. For affordable photos, consider reaching out to photography majors at nearby universities!
3. Be sure to customize your 120-character headline using searchable keywords.
4. Write your summary in the first person, making sure to highlight all that you have to offer using searchable keywords — this can include writing about multiple businesses and career accomplishments.
5. Create a custom public profile URL to use in your email signature, business cards, website and more.
6. Not only is it recommended that you list at least your phone number, email and Twitter handle in your contact info, but contrary to popular belief, it’s also suggested to list personal details about yourself — finding out you share common interests and hobbies with another member can lead to great networking opportunities!
7. Upload media! For each work experience listed, you can provide different photos, videos, PDFs and more. Also, don’t be afraid to provide three websites — your companies, a personal website if you have one and a resource you often use.
8. There is an entire “publications” section that you can upload or link to articles you’ve written — who knew?
9. There is also an entire “volunteer” section that you can list various roles and causes you’ve been involved with, or would like to get involved with. By filling this section in, you are showing where you are active in the community and providing exposure for nonprofit organizations or causes you care about.
10. Eliminate any endorsements from your profile that do not properly showcase your skill set — and solicit short recommendations instead from co-workers, mentors, educators, and more for each individual work project.
And after creating the most complete and successful LinkedIn profile ever, be sure to use it properly by following these tips!
1. Update your “home screen” status with events you’re attending, engagements you’re speaking at or items you are actively searching for.
2. Remember that LinkedIn is a public portfolio and being picky is not conducive to the website’s purpose — while you wouldn’t want to “friend” someone you don’t know on Facebook, it actually behooves you to broaden your network here.
3. That said, if you don’t want someone to know you’ve viewed their profile? You can go “stealth” by changing this privacy setting.
4. Invite others to connect after networking events — then, look through their connections to see if there is someone else you might like to be introduced to.
5. List and describe projects you’ve worked on together with other LinkedIn members.
6. Belong to groups that match your skill sets and target markets to create better business opportunities.
7. Follow companies, news, influencers and schools that will help you to share discussions and news articles — this will help position you as an expert in your area.
8. If you are a writer or blogger, apply to become an influencer on LinkedIn — the website will publically post your articles.
9. Use the “advanced people search” tab to find and connect with anyone on LinkedIn who is in your target market. Narrow your search results by geography, industry, alma mater, etc. When contacting them, be sure to customize your message — how you found them and why you’re interested in connecting.
10. Visit nonprofits.linkedin.com — the website will allow one member at each nonprofit organization to utilize premium search options.
So, if all of this is free — what exactly does LinkedIn’s paid service offer?
“Don’t feel you need to pay for the service until you’ve exhausted every detail of the free LinkedIn website,” Semple said.
I’d go one step further and say, don’t pay for it at all.
Want to announce yourself as a job seeker? There’s a home page “status bar” for that.
Want to rise to the top of the resume pile when applying for jobs through LinkedIn? Contact the company directly and request an information interview.
Want to send “InMail” to members to connect? Google their company’s email address.
But most importantly, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, complete and engaging — because you never know who may be looking you up next!