Your LinkedIn Profile: Yes, You Must

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Why You Must Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile Online Branding

“I’m not searching for a job.”

“I don’t need one more thing to think about.”

“Let other people have fun with that.”

“I don’t need LinkedIn for my work.”

If you’ve ever thought a thought like these as a reason for not nurturing your LinkedIn profile, you may be hurting your company’s credibility or undermining your own career.

Since writing about LinkedIn in 2013 here (225mm users), again in 2015 here (330mm users), LinkedIn’s membership has grown even higher to 414mm worldwide, with 107mm users in the US. Two new users join every second of every day. Like it or not, this is a freight train of a trend.

Even if you don’t feel the need to visit the site or to leverage it for your daily work, remember that other people may be using it for their daily work. It’s perhaps the easiest way to search for you, or your company. A well-crafted and up-to-date profile – or a lack thereof – will say a lot about you as a business professional, whether you want that or not.

We know a lot of recruiters. In Richmond, Virginia, the corporate recruiting pros who staff for large organizations and agencies all seem to agree: LinkedIn is THE 800 lb. gorilla in the talent acquisition space. More than any other digital platform used for connecting business people for any reason, LinkedIn has tightened its grip on the networking marketplace. Think of it as a modern-day rolodex (Millennials, look that up!) with 414 million names sitting on one desktop. This is the single-most important digital town square where professionals of all stripes hang out. Period.

Yes, LinkedIn got its start as a meeting ground for recruiters and their prospects. Both active and passive job seekers can benefit. Jobs are posted and algos match keywords and locations to your profile, and then the ad is placed directly onto your page (how easy is that?). Recruiters doing proactive search for new talent use LinkedIn’s powerful fee-based platform. They roam the digital universe daily looking for their next great hire.

But, you don’t have to be seeking a new job to benefit… recruiters may well be looking at you. Headhunters build their businesses assuming that on any given day, about 2/3 of us are open to a conversation about a new gig. No matter how committed you may feel to your current employer, can you honestly say you would have no interest in hearing about a new, different and/or better paying position?

Setting recruitment aside, LinkedIn is a go-to destination for customers to research you or your company if they’re shopping for business services. People love to buy but hate to be sold to. At some point your profile is going to be checked out… what will it say about you as a professional? What will your profile in turn suggest about your company?

Committed managers and employees may wonder, “Why should I invest time in an online profile if I’m not seeking new employment or selling business services?” Beyond recruiters and purchasing pros, distracted colleagues often network during the average workday. Profiles are pulled up, reviewed and inspected. How yours is crafted will send messages about you. How credible you appear on LinkedIn will impact decisions made by others:

  • Does your profile appear to be written in a thoughtful and complete manner, or does it look slipshod?
  • Is it conveyed in an interesting way to show care about your field or career?
  • Do you appear to be the type of leader other professionals want to work for or be associated with?
  • Do your credentials suggest enough to be a viable provider of business expertise?

Because LinkedIn has become the go-to for peering further into the business world, judgment abounds. More than just picking the right photo, how you manage your complete profile can also share info about you unintentionally. Even worse, if you’re not able to be found on LinkedIn, what does that suggest?

Here are missteps that Bench recruiters see, almost daily:

Late responses to Inmails: sourcing campaigns are brief and focused; long after the requisition is filled and put away, we’ll hear from prospects who were targeted earlier. They’ll respond with “Yes, I’m interested!” and then message, “Sorry, I don’t visit LinkedIn very often.”

This suggests that the user has his “Push Notifications” setting turned off, so that no external emails are being pushed when a LinkedIn Inmail is sent. This can easily be fixed by going to Privacy Settings / Manage / Communications / Emails and Notifications. This will ensure that all non-recruiting Inmails also find their way to the member.

Underwhelming profiles: duplicated job entries, no descriptions of roles and vague bullet points all combine to say very little about the user. Is that really what the world should see? If a profile causes confusion or leaves the reader with questions, whatever opportunity may have been knocking could be missed.

Sales people who don’t post real numbers, rankings or awards are missing out on selling their results. This is where it’s ok to shout to the universe, it’s a part of who they are! If not, they’ll be severely over-shadowed by those that do.

Selecting the wrong picture – expressing individuality is expected in other social media, but on LinkedIn, not as much. Think business first. While casual pics that give insight to one’s personality are fine (that freshly caught King Salmon IS impressive!) others are less appropriate or helpful. Party pictures, graduation or wedding shots, selfies taken behind the wheel and the random spaghetti straps all need to be re-thought in terms of professional credibility. And yes, a picture is a must.

Not updating communication “opportunities” choices – every once in a while, visit Communications / Member Communications / Select the type of messages you’d prefer to receive. Make sure that the boxes checked reflect your current feelings about the types of opportunities for which you want to be contacted. Many recruiters do the right thing and avoid reaching out to those who indicate they’re not open to career conversations. Make sure your settings are not reflecting your thinking from two roles ago.

Having less than 500 connections – if success in your job is dependent upon networking (recruiters and sales people, this means you!) having less than 500 connections is somewhat suspect. It’s just too easy to build a network if you put your mind to it. When it comes to business connections, it’s not as important to be as discerning about who you connect with. Opportunity can drop into your lap from any direction. While it’s certainly not all about quantity, showing 500 on your profile says something about your level of engagement with the world around you. Remember, there are 107 million LinkedIn members in the US alone… surely you’ve met 500 somewhere along the way! If you’re worried about being spammed, just report the user to LinkedIn with the click of a button and that’s the last of it.

Credibility as a business professional is carefully built over a career. LinkedIn can instantly enhance or detract from that credibility, whether you like it or not. Using automated features for communications and giving focused attention to your profile will help ensure that the business community – be it local or international – is seeing you in the best possible light. That light is the glow of an experienced professional with much to offer.

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