In recent conversations with my soon-to-be-a-college-grad daughter Hannah, we critiqued her (already impressive) LInkedIn profile with an eye toward translating her stellar academic, internship and service-leadership accomplishments into real-world skills.
These ten tips — gleaned from one of my past presentations to young professionals — are still a good reminder of a business-building approach to social media, … no matter your age or experience.
1. Establish a solid profile
It is tempting to plug in a few facts and get back to it when time permits but, like all the tools in your professional arsenal, first impressions count. Take the time to shine: add a picture, show what you have to offer, join a group. You wouldn’t hand out your resume before introducing yourself, so don’t do it here.
2. Write professionally for the job you seek
Write for the screen, in short blocks of copy. Use complete sentences with a professional writing style. This is not the forum for “lol” or “brb.” Think about the reader and be sure to proofread for grammar and typos.
3. Use your best voice
Light up your “Profile” with your voice. Use specific adjectives, colorful verbs, active construction (‘managed project team,’ not ‘responsible for project team management’). Act naturally: don’t write in the third person unless that formality suits you. Picture yourself at a networking gathering. How do you introduce yourself? That’s your authentic voice, so use it.
4. Put your elevator pitch to work
Go back to your interview introduction. That 30-second commercial, the essence of who you are and what you do, is a personal elevator pitch. Use it in the “Summary” section to engage readers. You’ve got 5-10 seconds to capture their attention. The more meaningful your summary is, the more time you’ll get from readers.
5. Point out your skills
For some professions, the “Specialties” field may be your personal search engine optimizer. This searchable section is where that list of industry buzzwords from your resume belongs. This is also the place to display particular abilities and interests, the personal values you bring to your professional performance, or even a note of humor or passion.
6. Explain your experience
Help the reader grasp the key point: translate your features into benefits. If you have worked or interned, briefly say what the company does and what you did. Think of a face-to-face meeting: after you’ve introduced yourself, how do you describe what you might offer? Use those clear, succinct phrases here and break them into visually digestible chunks.
7. Distinguish yourself from the crowd
Use the “Additional Information” section to round out your “Profile” with a few key interests. Add websites that showcase your abilities or passions. List professional associations, awards, charitable involvement, etc.
8. Build your connections.
The company you keep reflects on you. What happens when you view a “Profile” and see that you know someone in common? The value of that commonality works both ways. So identify connections that will add to your credibility, being selective. While it is easy to “accept” every invitation, don’t invite others into your network if you are unsure of their caliber or integrity.
9. Leverage relationships
Informal market research is perhaps the most valuable feature of LinkedIn. If you are seeking a job or preparing for an interview, search for profiles of key decision-makers or influence-leaders. You may share an acquaintance or an interest and may even find someone who can vouch for you as a fine and upstanding individual.
10. The heart of social networking
Putting people together with no immediate opportunity for your own gain is at the heart of social networking. In fact, the pay-it-forward philosophy is inherent in networking of any sort, … face-to-face or Internet-based. If you see two people who would benefit from meeting, “introduce” them via LinkedIn or other traditional means.