LinkedIn is an online resume of who you are, and who you’ve ever been. It gives you the keys to controlling your online identity. Have you Googled yourself lately? You never know what may come up. LinkedIn profiles rise to the top of search results, letting you control the first impression people get when searching for you online.
Step 1: Go to www.LinkedIn.com and start filling in the blanks for a new profile.
Use your common email address as a secondary and use your business email for your primary (you don’t want business contacts to find you at your college email address at ILOVESPRINGBREAK89 @ hotmail.com), but you need to have an email on file that you will always be able to access.
Step 2: Upload your picture. Many people will not accept connection invitations if they do not see a picture. They may not recognize the name among the hundreds they met at a recent convention without a picture. The picture should be appropriate for business. LinkedIn pictures don’t have to be overly formal, but they do need to be something better than your best at-the-gym picture.
Step 3: Add a tag, or a description to your name if you have a very common name. I have a very common name, so I add “Leadership Expert” after my name. It sounds a bit pretentious (I was uncomfortable doing that until a friend of mine told me that there were thousands of Mary Kellys out there (thanks Mom and Dad) and he couldn’t find me), so I added the tag to my last name and voila! My connections increased because my friends and contacts found me.
Step 4: Use your resume and background to build great content. Fill in the blanks of your education and work experience. Be interesting. Bullets for your summary are a great way to provide concise, eye-catching information.
Side note: I don’t recommend starting a profile (or a website) with a video. Two reasons: 1) it takes time to load, and most people won’t wait; 2) unless you are very interesting (like Henry Kissinger) or very funny (like The O’Shea Report ), no one wants to spend that time watching you introduce yourself.
Step 5: Get some high-quality recommendations. Go to the recommendations tab at the top and ask some of your trusted colleagues for recommendations specific to you as a professional. For example, comments such as “Mary is great!” or “Mary was wonderful!” sound nice, but they do not describe what I do, or the value I provide to a business client.
“Mary provided timely economic expertise and leadership advice that allowed us to increase productivity immediately. Mary’s advice saved us $567,000 for the year” is a much stronger recommendation.
Ask your recommenders to focus on the results you provide.
If you are a roofer, ask customers to describe your GREAT service as a roofer. “Ken’s prompt response and accurate estimate was indicative of the fast, quality work that his company provided. He and his team were on time, polite, and trustworthy. They got the job done on time and under budget.”
If you are a lawyer, request that your clients describe the characteristics that make you a GREAT lawyer. “Cris is smart, responsive, personable, and knows she the law. She drafted a will and trust package that covered all of our family’s many issues, AND she was affordable! She earned our trust and confidence.”
Step 6: Join groups of your peers. In the upper right corner is a search box. To the left of that are options with an arrow. Click on the groups and then search for your business interests, your alumni organizations, and your business peers. Join groups to allow you to connect with the other members of those groups. Increase your interaction in LinkedIn groups and get to know what others are doing in your field.
Step 7: Join the groups that your clients join. This allows you to understand the concerns of your customer base, and then you can provide solutions in the group discussion areas, which increases both your presence and your credibility.
Step 8: Use the applications. My favorites are the book list and the slideshare functions. The book list lets you type in the name of a book, select the book’s cover, and make comments about the book. I also like this function to feature some of my favorite authors and friends. The slideshare function is an easy upload for large presentation. This lets people share presentations and notes that otherwise might be too large to email. There is also a travel application that lets your network know where you are going, leading to simple coordination and more opportunities for meetings.
Step 9: Be the expert. Use the answers function in the upper right box. Click on answers, and type in your topic of expertise. When the questions appear, provide an answer and include your website. You become a known subject matter expert and others get the benefit of your wisdom.
Step 10: Enjoy your online connections! Thanks to social media, we can connect with people all over the world. LinkedIn is a terrific way to find lost friends and to stay in touch with new ones. (Next month: How to increase connections) I hope you have fun with social media!