By Debi Williams, AFWA Manager of Marketing and Brand Management
By now, we all know LinkedIn is THE site for establishing an online professional network. Many of us have joined the network with 300 million users, but only half of us are using the site effectively. According to LinkedIn, you are 40% more likely to receive opportunities through the site if you have a complete user profile. Only half of all LinkedIn users have a complete profile.
So what does a complete profile include? LinkedIn does a nice job of telling you what your profile is missing and walking you through the steps of adding information. At the minimum though, you should include a summary or introduction, your current and past relevant work experience, and most importantly a picture. Did you know your profile is 11x more likely to be viewed if you include a headshot!
Here are five key tips to help you complete and/or amp up your LinkedIn profile.
1. Craft the Perfect Headline
Your headline is the first, and sometimes the only, description users see to tell them who you are. Here you have 120 characters to build your personal brand. By default, LinkedIn provides your title and company name as your headline. In some cases though, your title is not the most effective descriptor of your talents. Consider using keywords or a brief statement to present your specialties and areas of expertise.
Here are a few good examples:
- Staff Accountant at XYZ
- Small Business Tax Consulting; Estate & Trust Accounting and Tax; Individual Tax
- Financial Systems & Reporting / Accounting Manager / Regional Director at AFWA
- Tax Accountant and Xero Certified at XYZ
- Contracts/Subcontracts and Program Analyst Professional
2. Claim Your URL
Every LinkedIn profile is given a URL. The default url is long and filled with numbers that mean nothing to the regular user. You can quickly customize your url to easily identify and share your LinkedIn profile. Imagine trying to fit www.linkedin.com/pub/afwa-headquarters/66/964/878, onto your business card or resume! Instead, the customized url, www.linkedin.com/in/afwanational, is much more presentable.
3. Use keywords
As with any major search engine, LinkedIn uses keywords to filter, group, and find individuals. Your profile (i.e. headline, summary, work experience) should be filled with keywords that not only describe you, but help users find you. Imagine a recruiter, employer, or potential client looking for a Tax Accountant in your area. If tax accounting is your specialty, you’ll want to be sure you use that keyword throughout your profile. This practice will help ensure your profile comes up in search results.
Review job descriptions in your industry, or profiles of other users to help identify popular keywords.
4. Ask for recommendations
Asking for a recommendation can be awkward, but LinkedIn is making it easier. From your profile editor, click on the recommendations section, to the right you should see “Ask to be recommended.” Here you can select your LinkedIn connection and the job you would like your recommendation for, then include a personal message. LinkedIn will send your request. Recommendations don’t have to come from just co-workers or employers, they may come from clients, or vendors as well. Anyone you’ve had a close working relationship with.
In the end, the awkwardness of asking for a recommendation will hugely pay off in completing your LinkedIn profile.
5. Network with Like Minds
LinkedIn groups are a great option for connecting with other users in your industry or community. Groups typically include an open forum for discussion, job postings, and most importantly the option to message other group members who you may not be directly connected with. Search for groups with your shared professional interest, local groups, and associations. With over 2,000 members, the AFWA LinkedIn Group is the place to connect with AFWA Members from across the country!