9 ways to polish your LinkedIn profile

Follow this guidance to elevate your presence on the world’s preeminent professional network.

How to boost your LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn has profoundly changed the way we network, explore business opportunities and present our credentials to the world.

It’s a crucial platform to master—for businesses and individuals alike—and that starts with creating a compelling profile that’s easy to find. Here are nine ways to maximize your LinkedIn presence:

1. Optimize your profile for discovery.

What good does it do to have a LinkedIn profile if no one can find you? Your first task is to make sure your account is not set to “anonymous.”

Log in to your account, and head to the settings and privacy section. Select “Edit your public profile” to ensure that the visibility is set to “public.”

You can customize your URL on the same page. Include your first and last name to optimize your profile for search on both LinkedIn and Google.

2. Use a professional photo.

LinkedIn says a professional photo will make visitors “seven times more likely to visit your profile” than picture-free profiles.

Upload a close-cropped photo of your face with a neutral background. LinkedIn recommends using a high-resolution image cropped to 400 by 400 pixels.

Use a photo that will leave visitors with a favorable impression. Avoid using a personal photo. Children, friends and animals are not recommended—unless that’s part of your personal brand.

3. Upload a background photo.

Aside from your profile photo, your background image is probably the first thing visitors will see—and they will judge accordingly. A meaningful image relating to your professional experience can enhance who you are and what you do.

LinkedIn recommends cropping background images to 1,584 by 396 pixels.

4. Write a snappy headline.

Don’t waste this prime real estate by regurgitating what’s already in your profile.

A well-crafted, attention-grabbing headline makes the difference between someone checking out your profile or clicking away.

Write your profile headline to appeal to your target audience. Consider including what you do and what differentiates you from other people on LinkedIn. To boost search rankings on Google, include keywords that your audience is likely to use when searching. Keep it under 120 characters.

5. Craft a brief personal summary.

Use this space to differentiate yourself and to showcase the skills that will appeal to your target audience. Include the organizations you’ve worked for and the results you’ve delivered.

This is the elevator pitch on your LinkedIn profile. The copy should be professional, but your passion and personality should shine through. Keep this section under 2,000 characters.

6. Include work experience.

Use this section to record your previous roles and achievements. Focus on the outcomes that you have delivered or facilitated.

Home in on accomplishments that relate to potential connections you’re hoping to attract. Leave out experience that is unflattering, old or irrelevant.

7. Use rich media.

Go beyond text.

Insert links to relevant content, include SlideShare presentations, and embed videos to grab attention. Point to projects or external pieces of work, and include professional clips that demonstrate your abilities.

8. Seek out (and include) recommendations.

Third-party endorsements from other LinkedIn users help corroborate your career narrative.

Whenever you complete an excellent piece of collaborative work or exceed a client’s expectations, ask for a recommendation. LinkedIn provides a tool that pre-populates a request.

9. Share links, updates and fresh content.

Don’t just set it and forget it. By sharing relevant updates or writing articles that pertain to your target audience, you can bolster your professional reputation.

Writing original content on LinkedIn is a tremendous way to extend your influence and build your network. Penning posts is also a good way to start conversations, ask for ideas or share guidance.

Stephen Waddington is chief engagement officer at Ketchum PR. A version of this post first ran on Mr. Waddington’s blog.

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