LinkedIn has changed over the last five years to adapt to a wildly metamorphosing online and offline business culture, as well as trends. LinkedIn Profiles have likewise changed.
This guide will show you how to set up a strong, basic Profile.
And if you’ve already created a LinkedIn Profile, it may be time to revamp it – especially since LinkedIn has radically changed the look and functionality of Profiles recently to keep up with its biggest competitors – Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube.
Step 1. Getting Ready
You’ll create a much more seamless and cohesive profile if you line up your content and graphic ahead of time. Put thought and time into creating content that is fine-tuned to your target demographic. Preparing as many elements as possible in advance rather than scrambling to create as you set up your profile will increase your chances of presenting a cohesive image.
Invest in a Professional Headshot
One major change LinkedIn made to Profiles is the size allotted to Profile photos – 500 X 500 pixels. This will display at 200 X 200 pixels in your profile, so if you are using the old style of Profile photo, your old one will now be too small and your Profile viewers may see a lot of ugly white space round it. So change your headshot, if you haven’t done so in the last several months.
Make sure you do use a head-and-hint-of-shoulders shot – it is now a LinkedIn rule that you cannot use any other type than a full headshot. Pictures of blossoms, babies, dogs, cute hedgehogs and spectacular skies may actually get your Profile photo deleted.
And if your photo is deleted three times, LinkedIn warns that you may not be allowed to upload more photos in future.
7 Tips for Professional-Quality Profile Photos:
- Remember that your photo will be relatively small. Make the most of it and eliminate background distractions. Your image should fill at least three-quarters of the space.
- Remember that your feed icon will be even smaller (60 px X 60 px).
- Make sure the background is not too “busy”. Even if there are no other distractions, a highly-textured background will only detract from the force and energy of your Profile photo – and you want it to feel active and dynamic.
- Don’t blend in with the background. Go for contrast: If your hair is light, try a neutral dark background: If your hair is light, the background should be dark.
- A three-quarters view is better than a full-on view (more flattering). Lean towards the camera slightly if you want to minimize a double chin.
- Avoid extremes of light. Strong lighting conditions will throw distracting shadows.
- Avoid photos that are too dark or too over-exposed
That first glance at your Profile Photo will automatically create judgment in people’s minds. Make sure that all judgments are in your favor!
Determine your Keywords
These now play a major part in helping your Profile be found organically on LinkedIn, so make sure you choose up to half a dozen strong keywords.
Write Your Summary
Do this in advance and have it ready to upload. Use your keywords; both in the Title and in the body of the Summary. You have 2,000 characters to play with and you can now include anchor text – so make the most of this.
Write about only those details your ideal client would be most interested in.
Make Sure all Landing Pages are Tested, Optimized and Ready
A small point; but broken links do happen, so test.
Decide on your Job Title Headline and Description
Don’t be too clever – while it might be fun to describe your job title as “Head Biggy” on Pheed.com, keep it professional on LinkedIn.
On the other side of the coin, avoid overused and emotionally meaningless job titles like “CEO” and instead use your keywords (e.g. “Owner, Blog Setup Service”).
And don’t worry if LinkedIn won’t let you insert your custom Job Title and Description during initial Profile set up: You’ll be able to do so later.
Step 2. Accessing Your LinkedIn Profile
Another way to access your Profile: Simply click on the “Profile” tab in your top, horizontal LinkedIn menu.
If you don’t yet use a LinkedIn account, go to LinkedIn and sign up. You’ll be prompted to add contacts and create a Profile. Stop when you get to that part, and refer to this guide.
If you already have a Profile, but need to update it to the new Profile format, go to LinkedIn’s Profile sample. Before you click on “View Your Profile”, however, hover your mouse over each of this sample Profile’s sections, to get a better idea of the changes.
If you have an existing account, click on “View Your Profile” to access and edit your Profile immediately.
Step 3. Go for Profile Strength
The sample Profile (pictured above) shows you a nearly-full circle representing “Profile Strength”. This is what you want to aim for, and it’s easy enough to accomplish: Simply fill in every section as completely as possible.
Every time you log into your Profile, you will see a blue box at the top, suggesting Profile sections to fill in. (This will happen whether your Profile is new or updated, as long LinkedIn feels sections are incomplete.)
These blue boxes are nothing more than friendly reminders, and if have sections not yet completed, you will continue to see them until your profile is close to 100% strength. So go ahead and skip any blue box for now if you wish – or fill each one in, if you prefer.
As you fill in (or skip) sections, you’ll see them greyed-out to the right-hand side of the browser page. The current active section will be contrasted in white and blue.
Step 4. Filling in the Blanks
Your Profile content should be as dynamic and as aligned to your target connection as possible.
Upload Your Profile Photo
Click the grey “Choose file” button and select your file. (If you are updating your Profile rather than creating, click the little camera icon that will appear as you hover over your existing photo). Click the yellow “Upload” button and you will be given a chance to drag or resize your new photo, if you need to.
Once you are happy with your re-positioning, click “Add to profile”.
- The next section, “Skills and Expertise”, replaces the old “Specialties” section.
Start typing your most relevant skills. Notice that as you begin to type, a drop-down menu will appear with helpful suggestions. Type in or select a skill or specialty; then click on “Add”.
Once you have entered all the skill and specialties you want, hit “Save”. Repeat with the next skill.
- At this point, even if you skipped a couple of sections, LinkedIn decides you have finished initial set up. It invites you to share your Profile via Facebook and Twitter. DO NOT share your Profile until you have viewed it and decided you are satisfied.
If you do choose to share it, change the generic wording.
Step 4. Growing Your Network
Once you have reached the point of being asked to share your profile, click on the “X” within the “Share your profile” blue box to close it.
You will be immediately taken to the next section of building your Profile.
Complete this in much the same manner as the previous section, by filling in information on the left-hand side of your browser page and seeing it “ticked off” (or greyed out) in the right-hand list.
Once you have completed these four sections, click on “Take me to my full homepage” to view your results.
BE SELECTIVE, when adding people and companies to follow. It’s not like Facebook: On LinkedIn, relevance and quality beats quantity, hands down. Your reputation can rise and fall on your connections. But for now, just add the minimum contacts that LinkedIn directs you to add.
Step 5. View Your New Home Page
Your “Home Page” is not your Profile. It is the equivalent of your Facebook Timeline feed. View it, but don’t bother adding more contacts or creating a post right now. You want to do that when your Profile is as fully optimized as you can make it. (We haven’t finished yet!)
Instead of posting, click on “Profile” to automatically open your Profile again.
You will see all the sections laid out when your Profile opens – along with your Profile strength:
Now you can complete any sections you skipped, to bring Profile strength up to its maximum.
Once you click on “Improve your profile”, you’ll be taken right back to any “blue box” sections you missed, and you can easily complete them.
This time through, you’ll see new “blue box” sections appear…
…Including the option to add your Summary. (Simply paste in your pre-prepared summary.)
Step 6. Beefing Up Your Profile
Keep rinsing and repeating this process (clicking on “blue boxes” and looking to see your profile strength; plus view new sections you can add).
Make sure you close out these sections, when finally done with them, by clicking the links to the right of “Save” and “Skip” (or “Next”).
Only then will you see the next round of sections to add.
(If you are updating a Profile rather than filling in one for the first time, extra sections will automatically appear in the right-hand column.)
If you reach this blue box…
…But your profile strength still isn’t at max and clicking “Done” doesn’t offer any more suggestions…
…Do not panic. Simply click:
- “Home” in your top horizontal menu
- Your post picture icon
- The grey “Edit Profile” button, once the new page opens
Click the grey button and you will now see your Profile exactly as do those who are simply updating an existing Profile – with all optional extra sections listed in the right-hand column.
You can now:
- Change your profile photo by clicking on the camera icon
- Click on any pencil icon to edit sections, Titles or Headlines
- Add extra sections
- Move sections around by dragging and dropping
Follow these steps, and your Profile will now display close to full strength!