By Nikki MacCallum
LinkedIn is a powerful tool that every individual in corporate America should absolutely be utilizing in their professional career. LinkedIn serves as a virtual business card and maintaining a strong up-to-date profile keeps you visible. Visibility is important because it attracts both connections and opportunities without you having to be proactive. It’s essentially a way to let the opportunities come to you; all you have to do is virtually show up. Showing up can lead to gaining job prospects as well as career advancement opportunities both internally and externally.
On the flip side, if you are actively engaging in a job search or trying to make a connection, your LinkedIn profile legitimizes you and gives you credibility. Given that LinkedIn increases your visibility, it is crucial that your profile is the most accurate and strongest representation of your professional self. Below are six secrets to building a strong LinkedIn profile and maintaining an effective presence.
First and foremost, your profile photo should be an accurate representation of your professional self. This one should go without saying, but often times I see photos of an individual holding that giant Tuna they just caught on vacation or alternatively, a Hollywood glamour shot. I also see photos that depict an entire family as opposed to just the individual. Your LinkedIn photo should only be of you, and you should look like how you would show up to a job interview. You should dress professionally, and the photo should have been taken within the last year. This is not a beauty contest, it is an accurate representation of you. Think of your LinkedIn profile as your virtual business card.
LinkedIn recently added the headline feature, a tagline that sits at the top of your profile. Your headline should be clear, concise, and reflect what you want people to buy from you. Are you an eDiscovery Project Manager? Are you a strong manager? Are you a writer or a speaker? Use this tagline to tell people who you are because if they have to figure it out on their own, wires can get crossed or they may just give up. I give the same advice with resumes. I should know what you do within the first ten seconds of looking at your resume or LinkedIn profile. The easier it is for someone to understand what it is that you do, the more likely an opportunity is to present itself.
In the breakdown of your experience, make sure to include succinct bullet points that reflect what you do in your day to day. The breakdown should not include or be a synopsis of your company or include your company’s mission statement. The point of your LinkedIn profile is to create opportunities for yourself. If someone is interested in learning more about the company you work for, they can visit that company’s page. In the breakdown of your roles and responsibilities it is also important to include key words relevant to your skillset. For example, if you are an eDiscovery Project Manager working with Relativity, make sure “Relativity” is listed. This is important in the event a recruiter is in need of someone with Relativity skills they will likely search “Relativity” and you want your profile to pop up.
Having some trusted allies recommend you publicly on your LinkedIn profile is a great way to build credibility. Recommendations within the past year are ideal. These recommendations can run the gambit from peers, clients, supervisors, subordinates, etc. These are not actual job references, but more used to demonstrate that others will publicly put their name on the line for you.
You can strengthen your visibility and LinkedIn presence by consistently commenting on other people’s posts. It’s a great way to engage with folks who you might not have had the opportunity to interact with on a regular basis, and the more folks see your name, the more you will be top of mind.
If you can follow these six easy steps you are on the road to success. Be clear, be visible, and let the opportunities come to you!
Nikki MacCallum brings over thirteen years of experience in the executive search space with a focus on litigation technology and eDiscovery. She’s spoken on panels and at conferences nation-wide (ABC News, Women in eDiscovery, LegalTech, CALSM, ARIAS) and was recently the key note speaker for a global Career Panel Workshop at American Express. Nikki is also a resident speaker at New York City’s Coalition for the Homeless where she privately mentors underprivileged women looking to re-enter the workforce.
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