You are likely embarking on the 2018 spring busy season. As you enter this compressed work period, you may be challenged to maintain your business development momentum. One idea that takes very little physical time is to stay active on LinkedIn by posting a few times a week, checking out what’s new with your network and interacting with groups.
To take advantage of all that LinkedIn has to offer, it’s vital that your profile and account settings provide you the most benefit possible. In this post, I will guide you through the top profile features and settings to address so that it serves you best. As you read the ideas, understand that I am suggesting these from the assumption that you are using LinkedIn to grow your network for developing business and attracting employee candidates, enhancing your personal brand and your firm’s brand. When this is the goal, you want to maintain a high level of transparency and ease of access to allow others you don’t yet know to learn about and contact you. One other thing to note is that in this post, I will refer only to certain fields and settings important to modify from a networking and business development perspective. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore the settings I do not mention.
First, let’s start with updates to your profile.
From the left-hand side of the LinkedIn homepage, choose “Update your profile.” Alternatively, you can click your picture icon at the top of the page and click “View profile.” Once you’re viewing your profile, start by clicking the pencil icon in the right-hand corner of your profile to modify your profile basics and introduction. Consider updating the following:
- Your profile banner: LinkedIn allows you to upload a banner image at the top of your profile. If you choose not to customize yours, you will retain the standard image that LinkedIn supplies all profiles. Your firm may have a branded image that you can use for this space (which is what I use) or you may also choose one of your own photos. A personal touch is okay, but you may not want your family displayed on your public profile. My colleague Jen Wilson is an avid runner and her clients, colleagues and friends know that about her. Her banner photo is a shot of her crossing the finish line from one of her marathons, arms raised high with a clear sense of pride and joy about her accomplishment – a great example of that personal touch!
- Your name, location, current position and industry: Check that these fields are represented accurately. If you have used another last name, consider inputting that name in the “Former Name” field so that others who knew you under that name can still easily find you. I have my maiden name listed in this field so that my name shows on LinkedIn as Brianna (Marth) Johnson. While you’re updating this information, make sure that the “Visible to:” button says “All LinkedIn members” so that you maximize the chances of others finding you.
- Your headline: Consider this a tagline for your personal brand and how you’re positioning yourself to others on LinkedIn. It’s perfectly acceptable if you choose to use a headline that includes your title and firm name, such as “Consultant at ConvergenceCoaching.” You may also choose to craft a headline that captures your personal mission in a few words. You can see from the graphic that my headline is “Helping Teams Grow and Achieve More │ ConvergenceCoaching.” When choosing a more creative headline, be sure to do two things:
- Update your summary. This is your profile bio and what people see near the top of the page when they view your LinkedIn profile. Far too often, I see people using their generic bio from their firm’s website, which means it’s almost always written from the third person perspective – i.e. “Brianna is a consultant with…” vs. “I am a consultant with…” Your LinkedIn profile is your individual platform to promote what you do for your clients and your firm. As a result, your bio should be written from YOUR perspective since others will be contacting you directly when they reach out.
- Media: LinkedIn gives you the option to upload or link to media that may be relevant to your chosen audience. It is purely your choice if you want to include anything here. You might link to a recent article you authored or a presentation you gave. You can swap in new content at any time or choose not to share anything if you wish.
Include your firm name: When you post a LinkedIn status or when your profile appears in searches, only your name and your headline are displayed. This means that others won’t know which firm you’re with unless you manually add it in your headline. It’s beneficial for both you and your firm to have your firm’s name appear as part of your posts and search results.
Another mistake I commonly see is starting your summary with background about your firm, as in “ConvergenceCoaching is a national leadership and management consulting firm…” When people view your profile, they can only see the first two lines of your summary. Then, they must choose to “Show more” in order to see the rest of your summary. They will only choose to view more if the first two lines have caught their attention. For this reason, use those first two lines to quickly relay the message you’re trying to send others about what you do and for whom. When trying to decide what to write, consider answering these questions to get you started:
What differences do I make / what benefits or value do I provide for my clients?
What kinds of services can I provide?
What industries do I focus on serving or do I want more clients from?
Starting your summary by explaining how you help clients and what kind of clients you serve will help others quickly understand what you do. This means they may either see the benefit for themselves or they may know others who could benefit from your services. Feel free to include firm information and some of your personal interests in your summary, just make sure they come after the important information in the first two lines.
It’s also a good idea to pay attention to key words. For example, if you specialize in SALT services, you want to say that in your summary as well as in the Experience section where you list what you do related to your current position. That way, when someone Googles “SALT services [insert location]”, they’re more likely to see your LinkedIn profile show up as a result.
Once you’ve made your desired changes, click Save and close the window. Now, go to the right-hand side of your profile page. From here, check the following:
- Add new profile section: see what you may need to add related to your work experience, education, volunteer experience, skills and accomplishments to be sure you are accurately and positively representing these areas.
- Edit public profile & URL: Once you click on this, a new browser window will open with a public view of your profile where you can see what others you’re not connected to can view on your profile. Go to the right-hand side and first look at your URL. If you have not already modified your LinkedIn generated URL, do so now. Using your full name is a good starting place, though if you have a common last name, it’s likely that someone has already taken that URL. Experiment with different combinations of your name, one or a few numbers or other keywords. For example, my URL is linkedin.com/in/briannajohnsonprofile. While you can modify your URL again later if you choose, it’s best to pick a URL that you will be happy with for a long time.
- Contact and Personal Info: modify these fields so that you are providing links to your firm’s website and any other appropriate places. For example, I link to our company blog as well. You might also choose to add your phone number, address, Twitter handle, and birthday. Be aware that any of these fields you choose to add will be public to others and could subject you to increased spam.
Next, edit your profile visibility. Be sure that you have selected “On” for your overall profile’s public visibility. This will automatically have your profile basics display for others and ensures that even people who find your profile on Google will be able to learn a little about you without having to log into LinkedIn. Then, choose to make your profile photo visible to the public, too, so that others can attach a face to a name. After these two settings, there is a list of profile content that you can choose to make public as well. I would encourage you to select as many sections as you feel comfortable with – after all, you already likely share that same information through your bio on your firm’s website.
Once you’ve finished, return to the previous page where you were making changes to your profile.
Once you’ve made these changes to your profile, it’s time to modify your account settings to be sure they’re benefitting you. At the top of the page, click on the icon that shows your profile picture, then choose Settings & Privacy. It will take you to your general account settings page first.
On this page, be sure to check the following two settings:
- Email addresses: Ensure you have your work email address listed as your primary email. When I first joined LinkedIn, I used my personal email address, however, I don’t want others to contact me using that email. By adding my work email address and making it my primary address, others can now email me directly without the worry of it going to my personal mailbox. Note - solely adding your work email and making it primary isn’t enough – you must change another setting to allow others to see your email address (more on that below).
- Mentions by others: You want to allow others to mention you in future posts and comments – make sure this setting is switched to “Yes.” *Note: if you do not see this setting on the Account settings page, check the Privacy page, as some people have different user interfaces.
After you’ve updated these basic settings and any others that you choose to modify, scroll back to the top of the page and click on “Privacy.” Modify the following settings:
- Edit your public profile: these settings were already discussed previously in this post – be sure to make these changes, but we won’t revisit them here.
- Who can see your email address: You might consider choosing that “Everyone on LinkedIn” can see your email address. That way it’s easy for others to contact you directly without making them resort to a LinkedIn message or having to search for your email on your firm’s website. *Note: this may increase the amount of spam email you receive. You can modify this setting if you notice a change.
- Who can see your connections: Allow “Your connections” to view your list of connections. If you have it set to “Only you,” you’re going against the purpose of using LinkedIn for networking – you want to be able to look at others’ connections for business development purposes, so you should let them see yours, too, in case you might be able to connect someone you know with someone else who would like an introduction.
- Viewers of this profile also viewed: I have this setting switched to “No” for the question of “Should we display ‘Viewers of this profile also viewed’ box on your profile page?” While this setting may show others from your firm (a benefit), it may also show people from other firms and direct the person away from your profile (not ideal).
- Sharing profile edits: My setting is switched to “No” because I often make changes to my profile to keep things current and I don’t want my network to be notified each time I modify something.
- Profile viewing options: I encourage you to allow your full profile to show when viewing others’ profiles. When you have this switched to either of the private modes, you are no longer able to see who’s viewed you if you’re using the free version of LinkedIn. If there are times when you want to view others’ profiles anonymously, you may modify this setting at that time and then return it to public when you’re finished. However, LinkedIn will disable the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feed and will remove your viewer history.
- Notifying connections when you’re in the news: Select “Yes” so that others can see when LinkedIn finds you in the news or as the author of a recent article.
- Who can see your last name: Again, if your full name is public on your firm’s website, I would encourage you to allow your full name to show on LinkedIn as well.
- Representing your organization: Click “Yes” so that you appear on your firm’s LinkedIn page as an employee.
From here, move to the communications page. You can modify the types of notifications you receive on LinkedIn and I encourage you to look through the options to ensure you’re receiving the communications you desire. Here are the other settings that you will want to check as well:
- Who can send you invitations: I have selected “Everyone on LinkedIn (recommended)” for this setting. This way, people I meet at conferences or events who may not have my email address can still invite me to connect.
- Messages from members and partners: I have the setting “Allow others to send you InMail?” set to “Yes” on my account. This allows people to message me within LinkedIn. The caveat if you choose this setting is that you must be sure you’re monitoring that mailbox. You should receive email notifications to your work email whenever you have a LinkedIn message, but it’s also helpful to be logging into LinkedIn several times a week through your computer or phone to check what’s going on with your network.
- Group invitations: My account is set to “Yes” for this setting, indicating that I would like to receive group invitations. As a result, a connection can invite me to a group they think I might find value from.
- Group notifications: Because I am involved in a variety of groups, I chose to select “No” for this setting and for my network to not be notified whenever I join a new group. If there’s a group you joined that you think others could benefit from, you can always post a LinkedIn status about it, or you could send a message or email to the appropriate individuals who might be interested.
Congratulations, once you’ve gone through these steps, you’ve ensured that your profile is optimized for networking and interacting with others! Keep in mind that LinkedIn actively makes updates and changes to profile features, functionality and settings. It’s important to pay attention to your LinkedIn communications which will notify you of changes as they happen. If you aren’t receiving email communications from LinkedIn, you likely have not enabled the setting to do so, and should visit your account communication settings.
Now, I have a challenge for you: schedule thirty minutes to make the changes suggested in this post. Then, make a commitment to visit LinkedIn at least twice a week for 15 minutes. Then, check out this post for more ideas on using LinkedIn during those 15-minute sessions. Whenever possible, share an article or interact with connections while you’re on the platform. By maintaining an active presence on LinkedIn, even in your busiest times, you’re ensuring that your name and firm stays top of mind for your connections and tells others that you’re interested in interacting with them.
Who’s in for the challenge? What other LinkedIn tips do you have? Share with us in the comments box below!