LinkedIn is a social network of more than 20 million professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries.
When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional accomplishments, pretty much like an online resume, but with important social networking elements baked into it.
Here are some personal branding and marketing tips to get the most out of your LinkedIn profile:
Add a picture
You can add your picture and display it at the top of your profile. A picture helps create a personal connection and conveys the message that you take networking seriously.
You can use the same picture you use in other social networking sites, so that those who frequent them may identify you more easily (brand recognition).
Create a personalized URL
When you join LinkedIn, your profile will be assigned a random URL such as:
Not very marketable.
You have the option, however, to create a personalized URL such as:
If you want an even better URL, you can always register yourname.com for less than $10/year and forward it to your LinkedIn profile page for the ultimate in URL branding.
Promote your profile with LinkedIn buttons
Like other social networking sites, LinkedIn offers a wide array of icons and buttons that you can use to promote your LinkedIn profile on your site or blog.
You can choose among many different styles, and link them to your profile.
Create a LinkedIn email signature file
A LinkedIn email signature file displays your contact information including a link to your LinkedIn profile, in a variety of layout styles. The only caveat is that LinkedIn signatures are designed using HTML, and therefore will work with Outlook but not with Gmail or Hotmail.
If you don’t like any of the default styles, you can always use an HTML editor and create your own signature file, or create one directly in Outlook (you can use one of the LinkedIn buttons discussed before to make the link to your profile stand out).
If you use Gmail or other email provider that doesn’t accept HTML, you can always create a text-based signature file, and include a link to your LinkedIn profile by writing your URL preceded by http://.
Always include a Summary
LinkedIn lets you write a few paragraphs about yourself as part of your profile. You must take advantage of this since the Summary almost always gets read. This is your chance to include your elevator pitch or any other carefully crafted statement where you put your best foot forward.
Make your summary objective, but not boring. Avoid sounding
I suggest that you read the profile summaries of several members first, to help you decide how you would like your profile to read.
Participate in Questions & Answers
LinkedIn has a Q&A section where you can pose questions and answer other people’s inquiries. By actively using this feature you can share your expertise with other members and enhance your reputation in your field.
When answering questions, pretend you’re commenting on a blog or an online forum. The idea is to help others and add something meaningful to the conversation, not to openly advertise your products and services. If you are too aggressive you will turn people off. If you honestly try to help, people will naturally come to you.
Fill up the Specialties section carefully
Some LinkedIn users search for people by keyword. For example, if somebody does a LinkedIn search for “Online PR” and the term Online PR is listed among your specialties, your profile has a better chance to pop up for that query. Make sure to include all your areas of expertise in the Specialties field.