LinkedIn is used by many people in many situations to find out more about a person during recruiting, before going to a meeting with someone new, before considering asking someone to join a team, and for many other reasons. You want your profile to present you in the best possible light and show your wide range of skills, experience and interests. This is not a time to be timid.
If you’d like to enhance your LinkedIn profile and make the most of it, but don’t know where to start, no problem. Use the following suggestions to improve it. If you don’t already have a profile, then click here for instructions on creating one.
Enhancing Your LinkedIn Profile
Go to linkedin.com and login.
Go to the Profile section and click Edit Profile.
Although all of the information in your profile is technically optional, you should consider the following parts of your profile to be mandatory:
- A head-shot photo of yourself. Not a family photo, not your pet, not your house, not a logo. This isn’t a social network, it’s a professional network; this is about you and your capabilities. Select a photo of only you, head only or head & shoulders/torso. People will need to be able to recognize you since everyone’s name is used many times across the globe. Your photo is very important, and profiles that lack a head-shot photo don’t usually get found. Do not skip the photo. Find a suitable photo and then click either “Add a photo” (if no photo exists) or hover over the existing photo and click “Change photo” to upload your head-shot photo.
- Follow a number of channels (topics and influencers). Go to this link to select channels that are related to your career, current position or interests. They will be displayed on your profile and will provide a wider view of you as a person. Select at least six or more channels. Some sample channels: Leadership & Management, Big Ideas & Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Professional Women, Technology, Social Media, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, etc. Click the “+” to select a channel, click it again to deselect.
- Go back to your profile by selecting “Edit Profile” in the Profile section.
- Next, ensure you have an entry (called a “position”) for each employment/job you’ve had, or at least the last few. You only need to add minimal info for each position (company name, position or title, start & end year, that’s all). Leave the description and other info for another time. If the position is already in your profile, then click one of the edit icons to populate or update a field. To add another job, click “Add position”. Repeat adding positions until you have entered all of them or at least the most recent few. Note: When entering the company name, the system will auto-generate a list of known companies that start with the same letters. Try to select the correct name from this list as it will link your profile to that company’s info on LinkedIn and will add the company’s logo to your profile.
- Scroll down your profile until you get to the Groups section. Make note of the groups that you already follow. If none, then the Groups section will probably not even appear. At the top of the page is a search box. Click the options on the left side of the search box and select Groups. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn where people discuss topics of interest. They are career, industry, skill or technology related groups (not family or social groups). For example, groups about leadership, organizations, project management, tons of technology groups, lots of industries, industry groups & associations, careers, professional development, problem solving, etc. Use the search box to find groups that relate to your career, job, industry or interests. For each suitable group, click its Join option. This will help round out your profile if you select 10-20 groups of professional and other interests. (Each join request takes a few days to appear on your profile.)
- This next must-have step is one of the most interesting since it facilitates interaction by others who view your profile. It is where you specify a list of your skills. There are thousands of skills to select from. Each person actually knows many, many skills even if they don’t come to mind immediately. I find it helpful to look at other people’s profiles to get ideas of skills to include on my own profile (e.g. “Oh ya, I know that too”). The list of Skills is something that other people who know you will be able to click to indicate that you do have that skill and the system will count how many people confirm each of the skills on your list. That may seem unusual, but it is actually fairly harmless and eventually beneficial. The system will highlight your “Top 10 Skills” in addition to displaying your other skills. Over time, this list changes as more people see your list and endorse your skills.
- To add or update your skills, click on the Skills section in your profile. You might need to click “View More” to see all of the available sections. If it asks “I want to be endorsed” ensure you select “Yes” and ensure the three checkbox options are all enabled. Then enter your skills, one at a time. I’d suggest opening another browser tab, going to linkedin.com and using the top search box to search LinkedIn for other people you know. Scroll to their list of skills and write down any that you also have. This will give you an idea of the variability that is available in the skills section. Then return to your profile and enter a bunch of your skills, one at a time. I’d suggest at least 20 skills (you can enter up to 50). You can drag them up or down to change their order. Click Save when done.
The above information is what I would consider to be the minimum content for a good LinkedIn profile. There are other useful sections that you might want to optionally populate if they apply to your situation: Education, Volunteering Experience, Causes you care about, and Interests.
Once you get to this point, you should now have a well-rounded profile that showcases your skills, experience, capabilities and other interests. (It will be even better once the Groups show up in a few days.)
Two more important steps: Connect and Endorse
Connections to others on LinkedIn adds depth and credibility to your profile and it’s easy to do.
There are two ways to add connections:
- Add each person manually; and/or
- Let LinkedIn access your email address book and it will send a connection request to each email address from your list that has a profile on LinkedIn.
Regardless of which method you use, it will still be up to each person to confirm the connection. LinkedIn connections are always bi-directional meaning that one person requests the connection and the other person confirms or ignores it. However, only send connection requests to people that know you otherwise the system might flag you as a spammer if many people click “I don’t know this person” to a number of your connection requests.
You should request connections to the following people:
- People you know at your current job
- People you used to work with at previous jobs; and
- Your friends and family who are in the workforce (yes, it doesn’t hurt and it does help your connections list & skill endorsing to grow — and you do know them)
To add a person manually, search for their name using the top search box and click the Connect option beside their name.
To add people in bulk from your email account, click the “My Network” navigation option and select “Add Contacts”.
The system will send you an email whenever one of your connection requests confirms the connection. This will be a bit of a pain initially, but it has an actual benefit.
After you receive a few connection confirmations, go back to LinkedIn and look at each of these person’s LinkedIn profiles. Why?
For these reasons:
- Scroll down to their list of skills. If you see skills that you also have and which aren’t already listed on your profile, then write down these additional skills and add them to your profile.
- For any of the skills listed in their profile that you know this person has or can do, click the grey “+” sign beside each such skill to confirm it (LinkedIn calls this “endorsing” a skill). Any blue “+” signs reflect skills you have already endorsed for them. The system will inform them in a day or two that you endorsed some of their skills along with a link to your profile. When most people are informed of this, they usually go to that person’s profile (aka, your profile) and reciprocate by endorsing your skills that they have knowledge of.
- If their profile displays their contacts, see if you know any of their contacts and if so, click the Connect option.
You should now have a great profile on LinkedIn for all of the benefits mentioned earlier.
You may edit or further augment your profile at any time by logging into LinkedIn and clicking the “Edit Profile” option under the Profile section or by clicking any of the edit icons when viewing your profile.