When Tara McFall first launched her digital consulting business in 2015, LinkedIn quickly became her prime source of business leads. In fact, many of her best clients to date, including General Assembly and Investa, were delivered via LinkedIn.
While the LinkedIn algorithm has no doubt become more sophisticated and the platform user base has grown to over 645 million users, having an optimised profile is still the starting point to your success, writes Tara McFall. A searchable profile is important but what else can you do to stand out amongst all the others like you?
Keep reading for more LinkedIn hacks from Tara…
Be Human. Be Yourself. Tell your story
As any student of mine will know, I am passionate about humans connecting with humans. And as humans it’s the stories we tell that make us memorable. Linked In is no different and your profile is the perfect place to show your personality. Yes, Linked In IS a professional platform BUT that doesn’t mean you need to be boring. Inject your personality by telling your career story and explaining your values and passions. Rather than saying “I began working in digital in 2001…” tell your personal story in your own words “Back in the days of Yahoo search (yes that was before Google as we know it was even on the scene…gasp!) I started my digital journey..”
Create a headline that gets you noticed
You don’t necessarily need to keep your job title and company in your headline. Use this space to demonstrate your skills and value proposition so that you appeal to the job or connection you wish to make. Your headline is searchable so be sure to include keywords and your industry so people can find you when searching. Check out what others in your profession or industry are using. How can you set yourself apart? Hint hint, be human 🙂 e.g. Digital Growth Consultant + Mentor. Helping you + your business grow sustainably. Co-founder @Sustainable Growth Co.
Create a custom URL
This will allow you to promote your Linked in Profile on blogs, your website and other social platforms. See how to create your custom URL here
Create your About summary section
Your LinkedIn summary is one of the first places people will come across. The first 300 characters (of 2000 characters max.) or so are the most important so put the juicy stuff here.
“The summary section is your primo opportunity to showcase the good stuff about you, with your target audience in mind. Give ’em a little chance to get to know you. So what do you think the first impression is going to be if you craft your summary like some long, pompous speech? Or worse, craft it in the third person? They’re going to think you’re pretentious. And it’s going to be hard for that reviewer to get a feel for your personality and style. Be you here. Keep the brand message in line with all of your other professional marketing materials, but realize that LinkedIn is a platform designed for interaction.” JobJenny
Explain your work history, passions, what you love about your job, aspirations etc.
Less is more
People will skim your summary, so help by breaking up the text using short paragraphs and bullet points or lists. Don’t use five words if you can say it with three.
Say it loud
Write your profile as if you were speaking it at an event, which will give you more chance of connecting with your audience. Read your profile summary out loud so you can check how your voice sounds. Your profile should be in first person “I” not “Tara is…” so it differs to your resume in that way.
Add a professional photo and background image
It helps to have a profile picture that represents you. Keep it friendly but professional (this isn’t the place for kids or cats!). If you can, invest in a professional head shot. You can also add your own profile background. Keep it consistent with your personal brand i.e. if you have a website keep the image consistent to represent your brand.
Add Keywords and Search Terms in Your “Skills” Section
Keywords help you get found in search results on LinkedIn. Your list of skills shows recruiters and businesses that run searches on LinkedIn what you are an expert in. Yes, you want to show a good breadth of skills BUT make sure the skills you choose are actually relevant to your past experience. LinkedIn reports that “members with five or more skills listed are contacted (messaged) up to 33 [times] more by recruiters and other LinkedIn members and receive up to 17 [times] more profile views.” Once you have skills on your profile you can ask colleagues, partners or clients to endorse you.
If looking for a new job include a Current Job Entry, Even When Unemployed
“If you’ve only listed the past positions you’ve held in the experience section but show nothing current, you’ll probably get missed in most searches. Why? Because most recruiting professionals exclusively use the current title box to search for candidates; otherwise they’d have to sort through thousands of candidates who held a certain role (for example, graphic designer) as far back as 20 or more years ago. The simple workaround, if you’re unemployed, is to create a dummy job listing in the current section that includes the job title(s) you’re targeting—‘Full-Time Student/Financial Analyst in Training’—followed by a phrase like ‘In Transition’ or ‘Seeking New Opportunity’ in the Company Name box.” University of Washington
It’s all about who you know
As I mentioned above humans like connecting with humans. LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with other humans you’ve worked with, met at a networking event or been introduced to…so invite the people who are relevant to connect to you. Aim to have at least 50-100 people with whom you’re connected as a starting point.
After successfully working with someone on a project or at an organisation, it’s the perfect time to ask them for a recommendation. Get specific when asking them to write one by reiterating your skills and achievements. This will showcase your strengths and make it easy for them to get writing. Aim to ask for at least one recommendation every month.
Have something to say…and say it (regularly and consistently)
As per other social platforms, you can update your LinkedIn status anytime you like. Ideally, you should update your status once per week (but let’s face it, that might not be possible). If it is less than that, make sure you stick to a regular and consistent schedule. Update your status professionally and strategically (comment on and share an article you found interesting or share the article you just wrote). Try to plan out your content in advance so you aren’t stuck. I keep an ideas board in Trello for my updates or when I find an interesting article. Your LinkedIn network will see your updates so it’s a good way to get noticed outside of searches.
Interested in Linked In training? Tara will be running a workshop in Adelaide to help you leverage the power of LinkedIn.
About the author:
Tara McFall is a Digital Mentor & Growth Consultant dedicated to helping brands and organisations grow sustainably. She guides people from working harder, to working smarter, empowering them to implement the right digital solutions for long-term, sustainable growth.
Her 15 years of digital and ecommerce experience in the corporate world and 4 years as a digital marketing teacher, allows her to translate complex jargon and technology, and create smart solutions for sustainable brand growth.