Create the ultimate LinkedIn profile in 6 steps

Want to get more mileage out of your LinkedIn profile? This guide explains where to add keywords, how to create a vanity URL, and more.

LinkedIn is the social network for business professionals and networking. With 161 millions members to date, it’s one of the most popular social networks. Are you using it to its fullest potential?

While we hear a lot about Facebook and Twitter for lead generation, LinkedIn can be just as good—if not better—if you spend a little time optimizing your profile.

Here is the ultimate cheat sheet to create your LinkedIn profile:

1. Use a professional picture.

Use a professional picture you wouldn’t mind your mother-in-law or grandmother seeing. This is not the time for shirtless photos (men) or duck pouts (ladies).

Despite what people say, first impressions count. You don’t necessarily need to have a photo of yourself in a suit and tie, but make sure you consider your audience, branding, and what kind of message you’d like to portray. Your profile picture must be square, no larger than 4MB, and be in a JPG, GIF or PNG file format.

2. Create a keyword rich, customer-focused headline.

This is the shortened version of your profile that appears to the right of your profile picture.

Search engines crawl your LinkedIn profile. Sprinkle in some keywords that relate to your job position and/or the services your clients might search for. For example, if you’re an attorney, don’t write “lawyer.” Write something a bit more interesting that’s focused on your practice area and specialization.

3. Update your status.

Like Facebook and Twitter, you can update your status on LinkedIn. These updates will appear on the home pages of all your connections. Post information related to your business, industry, and any information your network will find useful. But don’t over-promote yourself. I use the 80/20 rule: 80 percent educate and 20 percent promote.

Comment on other status updates, too. I always notice when one of my connections comments on my status updates because it doesn’t happen too often.

4. Claim your vanity URL.

Make your profile easier to find and more professional with a vanity URL. Mine reads http://ca.linkedin.com/in/samanthatcollier. If I didn’t change the last part to my name, it would be a bunch of letters and numbers.

Make sure you go to your profile and set up your vanity URL as soon as possible. It’s easy to do and makes you look like a LinkedIn ninja.

5. Personalize your website URLs.

LinkedIn gives you three website slots. Instead of using the predetermined standard text, “My Website,” change the text to make the links more descriptive. If you have a blog, change the URL to the title of your blog. If you have a website, change the name to your domain.

To customize your links, click “Edit” on your website links and select “Other” in the drop-down menu.

6. Add your Twitter account information.

LinkedIn allows users to share their Twitter account information on their profile. Visitors to your profile can follow you on Twitter without leaving LinkedIn. This is a definite must for the Twitter rock stars out there. I’ve followed many people on Twitter directly from their LinkedIn profiles.

You can also share your LinkedIn status on Twitter, and vice versa. I don’t recommend you sync all your status updates, but a couple here and there should be fine.

What other LinkedIn tips and tricks do you use to create a rock-star profile? Share them in the comments.

Samantha Collier is the chief content manager at Shift Digital. She contributes to the Shift Digital blog, where a version of this article originally appeared. (Image via)

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