Every time I meet with a client about their LinkedIn page there are five things I consider essential to a professional looking page, whether they are looking for a new position or using the page as a marketing tool for their current company. These five must haves are a professional picture, a summary of experience, the last ten years of their professional experience, a full list of skills and some extras.
1.A picture is worth a thousand words. On LinkedIn, you want to make sure those words start with professional! That does not mean you have to spend a fortune to get a professional head shot. It does however mean you want to keep away from the group photo from the last office party. Remember that people like to deal with someone they feel they know. Study after study show that profiles with pictures get more attention than those without.
2.The summary of experience is your chance to shine! I like to think of it as an impact statement. What makes you the person others should look to as a leader in your field? “I have 20 years in insurance sales,” is rather bland. Consider instead “With over 20 years as an insurance professional I am here to ensure your needs and those of your family are covered.” You also want to avoid doing a bullet point list of skills.
3.The new rule of thumb for your resume, use only the last ten years unless it is relevant to your current position. In an age where people frequently change companies but not fields it is not necessary to list every position you have had for the last 30 years. Show your progression in experience and responsibility and be sure to list more than your company name and position. Show off a special skill you used in that position.
4.This category is sometimes not take full advantage of especially by small business owners. If you own a business with less than 5 people, you are everything from the CEO to the chief bottle washer and your skills should reflect that. I once had to explain to a client that the classes they gave meant that one of their skills was event planning. Think outside of the box to get a full list of all of your skills.
5.There are some little “extras” that give any profile on LinkedIn a polished look. Make sure to include a background. There are numerous sites that have these pre-made. Show off your industry or personality by including a background that excites you and gives some insight into your page. Another great extra is your personalized LinkedIn address along with as many ways to contact you as you can.
The best way to reach others on LinkedIn is to make sure your first impression is the best you can make it. Think of your LinkedIn page as your digital business card and make sure you shine!